By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder walks you through the 2008 Lexus IS-F. It competes with the BMW M3 and Cadillac STS-V.
(high intensity techno music) Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with Cars.com. Here are the 2008 Lexus IS F. F is there a new designation like BMW's M and Cadillac's V series. It's their souped up version of the IS 250 and 350. I'll give you some ideas.
What makes it different from the basic car? As you can probably tell it's a little bit more bulbous in the hood region. It kind of looks like a beluga whale. That's to fit a much larger engine. It's a couple inches wider. You've got a larger grill here and actually huge brake cooling ducts in the front. Now the brakes in the front are six piston calipers with cross drilled rotors. They do a good job of stopping the car, but they are a little bit grabby, we've found. Along with the wider fenders are wider and deeper sill extensions. Now the wheels are larger on this car. They're 19 inches compared to the regular IS, but unfortunately the tires are only about one inch, maybe less than one inch wider than they are on the regular IS and this is a rear wheel drive car with over 400 horsepower. In my opinion, you need a lot more rubber back here. Other features unique to this car, a larger spoiler on the trunk lid, and also these quad tailpipes. This is strange. We've noticed this on the LS Sedan too. They aren't really connected to the exhaust pipes. They're actually part of the bumper and the pipes blow through there, but it's kind of weird. Now why does it have an enormous bulbous hood, like a beluga whale for the best possible reason? It's a giant five liter V8 that takes place of a 3.5 liter V6 in the IS 350. This thing puts out 416 horsepower, which puts it right in the league with the BMW and the three. Now there's also F badges, obviously all around the car. They have a nice blue accent around them that actually carries over into the inside of the car. There are F badges on the outside of the seat cushions. You got blue stitching everywhere, and they've actually incorporated the blue into the perforations of the sports seats. There's also a unique instrument panel on this one. Special cluster with the F on it and blue gauges. Again, the blue carries over. We really like this design here, the center, it's kind of a woven aluminum. It's kind of like a cross between aluminum trim and the carbon fiber weave. It's really very effective. People have been impressed with it. People have been equally unimpressed with the center console in the back seat. Now the regular IS has a three seat backseat. This one actually is just two buckets. It's not a problem in that regard, but that hard plastic center is an issue for people. I don't know why they didn't use something richer. Now I'll refer you to my full review for all the performance aspects of the car. But I have to mention, of course, this is the first car with an eight speed automatic in a production model. And it is controlled either with a stick or with these paddle shifters. Now the short version is yes, it's impressive. It shifts very quickly and it works well in automatic mode too, but honestly I want a manual transmission. I want to drive the car myself. <v Announcer>For additional information on this car or any other, go to Cars.com and our blog, Kicking Tires.