By Joey Redmond
The Lexus IS line has been at the pinnacle of the midsized luxury sedan class for more than a decade. Now Lexus has presented a tuner package for the IS350 known as the F-Sport. I was allowed to test it for a week. The Lexus IS350 F-Sport is a luxury four-door with some of the best exterior styling in the industry. It is packed with performance, sportiness and high-end luxury equipment.
The tungsten pearl Lexus came with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and 306 HP. The F-Sport package’s most notable features are the large blue six-piston brake calipers and upgraded rotors. This brake package not only looks great, but delivers stopping power that far exceeds the factory setup in the non-F-Sport version.
The other exterior modification is the aggressive alloy wheel/tire combination in gunmetal. The 19-inch wheels give the car an aggressive stance and really make it stand out among other Lexus cars. The F-Sport has a great fitment and sits on Michelin Pilot Sport Ps2 tires.
On the performance side, the F-Sport intake really makes the 3.5L 2GR-FSE sound great across the RPM range. My favorite part of the F-Sport package is the dual exhaust. It provides an amazing sound when you lay into the throttle but is never overbearing enough that you cannot think or have a conversation. The Lexus engineers put together a perfect mix of performance and sound engineering in a factory exhaust package. If you’re cruising on the highway, or not in the throttle, the car is practically silent with a slight hint of the performance exhaust in the background. It’s just about everything you could ask for from a performance-oriented luxury sedan.
While I assume you aren’t purchasing the Lexus to travel at high speeds on the highway or dominate your local drag strip, it’s nice looking over the Lexus performance numbers. It runs a 0-60 mph time in 5.6 seconds and manages a quarter-mile time of 13.9 seconds.
Driving around town in the Lexus IS350, you will notice more dynamic control with the upgraded suspension. The car comes equipped with a spring/shock package that gives the car a lower stance in addition to the upgrade in handling. After driving the car for a couple hours, I came to love the F-Sport package because the car drove and looked better at a lower stance but didn’t lose any of the Lexus ride quality you have come to expect from the brand.
The Lexus factory navigation unit is sound and well-placed on the center console. The car has a great iPod hookup that can be easily controlled through the factory steering/navigation controls. While many cars have horrible iPod connectivity and function, the Lexus IS350 system is one of my favorites on the market today. The USB port is sitting inside the center console between the front seats for easy access.
The gauge cluster is my favorite part of the interior, with clean, large dials that light up in white with a nice blue ambient ring in the center make it easy to always see what speed you’re traveling. The center of the gauge cluster also has additional information such as the current outside temperature and the current gear your transmission is in.
After having the car a few days I further fell in love with the gorgeous exterior styling. The HID (high-intensity discharge) headlight system works wonders at night lighting up the road ahead. This model was equipped with fog lights in the lower grill for improved visibility.
The F-Sport is a great balance between performance and luxury while never sacrificing one for the other. It’s softer on the budget than a Lexus IS-F, but has some unique flair over the base model IS350. When you arrive at the dealership to purchase or test-drive a Lexus IS, make sure you load it up with the entertainment and performance options. This is a solid commuter that isn’t afraid to have some fun on the weekends.
Photos by Ricky Cervantes
(Joey Redmond is a freelance writer in Los Angeles who specializes in automotive reviews.)