9tro issue #7
Text by Cheryl
Photos by Adrian
Valentine’s Day has never meant anything much to me and sometimes I wish there was less of such commercial occasions as they are usually over-rated and make people perform certain actions for the sake of it.
Well, this year I had my best Valentine’s Day ever!
No, I did not get 99 red roses; no, I was not brought to some romantic rooftop restaurant; no, I was not given a diamond ring. But I did have the best Valentine’s Day date ever – the Lexus IS-F.
When I was offered a test drive of the 5-litre V8 Japanese speedster, I intentionally chose 14th February because I wanted to make the test drive a special one and what better way than to spend Valentine’s Day with it.
Arriving in the morning at authorised distributor Borneo Motors, I spotted the shiny black IS-F sitting prettily in the sun awaiting my presence. Through the glass doors held open by the friendly security guard, I was greeted warmly by the receptionist and was even handed a stalk of rose as their way of expressing their love and care for their customers.
A brief introduction of the car by the cheery PR manager and I was off for the next 24 hours with the beautiful IS-F. The F in its name is actually a representation of the significant role of Fuji Speedway in the development of the high-performance IS sedan.
In terms of the compact luxury sedan class, the IS-F falls into the category of the M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Of these three, the IS-F is not as explosive as the BMW M3 and makes the most comfortable option as it is still a Lexus after all. Its cabin is of a very refined environment with solid quietness.
Spin the throttle and you get the performance of a compact luxury sedan but the gear shifts lose out to the C63 AMG’s. The IS-F’s eight-speed direct shift transmission is a world’s first, but somehow it still feels very much like a traditional automatic gearbox. While the C63 AMG is good for effortless highway driving, the IS-F is the car you would most likely live with on a daily basis.
Pushing 417bhp of power at 6,600rpm, the torque of the IS-F feels very typically Japanese and somehow 505Nm of torque seems too optimistic. It is still the Europeans who have more brutal torque delivery.
4.8 seconds is all it needs to get from rest to 100km/h but I thought it did not feel too quick in the first few gears. Having eight gears to fiddle with makes it a little clumsy, especially when driving on highways. Using the Formula 1 inspired paddle shifts in M mode will help shift the gears quicker, supposedly with upshifts at one-tenth of a second.
SmartAccess keyless entry with push-button start, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, bi-xenon HID auto-leveling headlights, six-piston Brembo brakes and the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (a system that integrates all the electronic driving aids like ABS, EDB, BA, TRAC, VSC and throttle input) all come standard on the IS-F.
The test drive unit you see here is the pre-facelift version of the IS-F. Sometime in the first quarter of the year, the facelifted IS-F will arrive and boast new features like daytime LED running lights, Mark Levinson audio system with 14 (from 13) speakers and seven (from six) body colours to choose from.
If you are wondering how to differentiate the IS-F from the rest of the ordinary IS range, the easiest way would be the F badges that are prominently displayed in and on the car. The exhaust tailpipe is the other aesthetic visual that you can look at – the IS250 for example, just has regular cylindrical ones, while the IS-F has fierce double oval-shaped stacked ones.
Look inside the cabin and you will find the F badge on the console, at the bottom of the steering wheel and also on the sides of the seat cushions. Within the engine bay, the F badge is on the cover and outside, the F badge is at the back of the car and also on the sides above the signal indicators.
Test drives of the IS-F are only available to customers upon confirmation of orders, hence making it a case of ‘You know you want it’. With such exclusivity of the IS-F, my Valentine’s Day could not have gotten any better than this.
Engine: 4,969cc V8 32-valve DOHC
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic sports direct shift
Max Power: 417bhp at 6,600rpm
Max Torque: 505Nm at 5,200rpm
0-100km/h: 4.8 secs
Top Speed: 270km/h
Distributor: Borneo Motors