Teased in a form of a patent submission last year, but not revealed alongside its heavily updated sibling, Lexus officially launched the indirect replacement for the IS F, the IS 500 F Sport Performance, overnight in the United States.
The first model to wear the F Sport Performance designation, the IS 500, in spite of previous reports suggesting the twin-turbocharged V6 from the LS 500, retains the normally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 from the RC F. Described as a ‘rare breed’ by the automaker, but a model not aimed at the BMW M3, the bent-eight produces 352kW/536Nm, delivered to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Tipping the scales at 1 805 kg, a mere 65 kg more than the V6 IS 350 F Sport, the IS 500 will get from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.5 seconds. No top speed was revealed.
Appearing hardly unchanged from its sibling, the 500’s exterior differences consists of model specific 19-inch ten-spoke Enkei alloy wheels, dark chrome window surrounds, a new, lower mounted rear diffuser, a wider front bumper and wings, an F Sport unique bootlid spoiler, black badging, quad exhaust outlets and the same dome on the bonnet as the RC F.
Underneath, Lexus has also made revisions to the chassis and dynamics in the form of upgraded brakes, whose discs measure 356 mm at the front and 323 mm at the rear, new rear dampers made by Yamaha, improved brake cooling to accommodate the bigger stoppers and the standard fitting of the so-called Dynamic Handling Pack that includes a Torsen limited slip rear differential and the Adaptive Variable Suspension. In addition, a series of modes are offered; two for the transmission, dampers and steering; Sport and Sport+, two for the chassis (Normal and Sport) and three for the powertrain; Eco, Normal and Power.
Like its exterior, the IS 500’s interior differences are just as small and differs from the IS 350 F Sport in the shape of an F Sport Performance heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, F Sport Performance branded treadplates and a unique animation within the instrument cluster.
Still to be priced, but going on sale in North America later this year, the IS 500 F Sport Performance has been billed as a US market exclusive model, meaning it won’t be offered anywhere else but the States in spite of Lexus having already confirmed the standard IS for South African availability this year.