Detroit Auto Show: IS-F puts the pedal to the floor for Lexus

click the image above view our high-resolution gallery of the Lexus IS-F

The boys over at Lexus were dialing F for Fast as they took the wraps off their new performance division with the presentation of two high-performance show cars. The LF-A supercar was a revised and updated version of the one they showed here two years ago – more on that later – but center stage belonged to the highly anticipated IS-F super-sedan.

Just a few hours before the press conference, a few factory images were leaked (which followed an internet ad that went online a tad early), and we're happy to report that the car is as impressive and aggressive in the flesh as it is in the photos – despite the poor lighting on stage that would make even the cast of Sesame Street look shady. The gaping air intakes up front, the side skirts cutting out from the side vents behind the front wheels and the rear bumper with trick quad tailpipes would look at home on the DTM circuit. Inside are special sports buckets in either black or contrasti-licious white and black leather, plus silver fiber-weave trim, drilled aluminum pedals and shift indicator lights on the dash that let you know this is a place of business as much as other Lexus models are luxury enclaves.

Follow the jump for more of our thoughts on the LF-A, the official press release, and our own high-resolution gallery here.

For our comprehensive listing of everything from Detroit, click here.

The striking styling only gives you a clue as to the beast that lies beneath the hood: a 5-liter V8 pumping out over 400 horsepower and upwards of 350 lb-ft of torque. The engine also features a two-stage intake system, engine oil and transmission fluid coolers and an oil pump designed for high-speed cornering. All that juice is channeled through an eight-speed (yes, we said eight-speed) automatic transmission with paddle shifters to the rear wheels. With that kind of power, Brembo was brought on to serve up the stop with perforated discs measuring 14.2 inchs up front and 13.6 in the back, encased in specially-designed 19-inch BBS alloy wheels on some very, very low-profile tires. Those are hooked up to a dropped and tuned suspension controlled by Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system with three modes (normal, sport or off).

For the past twenty years Lexus has been chasing after BMW, Audi and Mercedes – and have by many accounts long since passed them. But with the launch of their first F model, Lexus finally has a high-performance sports sedan to compete with the M, S and AMG offerings from their German counterparts. We can't wait to see how it stacks up when it hits showrooms next year.


Lexus Unveils Two High-Performance Vehicles at the 2007 North American International Auto Show
Related Media

January 8, 2007 - Detroit - Lexus unveiled the IS-F high-performance luxury sedan and the LF-A sports-car concept at a press conference today at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The all-new 2008 IS-F high-performance luxury sedan will deliver more than 400 horsepower from a 5.0-liter V8 engine when it goes into production. The LF-A supercar concept is equipped with a V10 engine that produces more than 500 horsepower. Together, the two exciting new cars make a dramatic statement of Lexus performance.

The IS-F and LF-A are very different vehicles, yet they share the same DNA, design philosophy, and heritage. Prominent in both vehicles, the "F" designation was first conceived nearly 20 years ago with a project internally coded "Circle-F," with the "F" standing for "flagship." This was the original code for what became the Lexus Division. The Circle-F designation further evolved into the code name Flagship One, or F1, and the first F1 concept developed into Lexus' first vehicle, the LS. Since then, the "F" code has come to signify a special vehicle program within Lexus that falls outside the normal engineering and development process.

"Lexus has long been perceived as the maker of mainstream luxury vehicles, but the unveiling of the IS-F and LF-A not only changes this perception, it also introduces a new Lexus marque," said Bob Carter, Lexus Division group vice president and general manager. "The 'F' shared by both vehicles is the signature for a new high-performance marque conceived by an engineering team that dared to turn their dream of 'a Lexus like no other' into a reality."

IS-F Performance Sedan
Much of the development of the new IS-F took place at Fuji Speedway and the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan. The IS-F is based on the proven rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS, which is equipped with a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension. As well as the IS performs, Lexus engineers demanded much more of the all-new IS-F. The result is a performance tuned 5.0-liter V8 engine, topped with specially engineered heads fed by a two-stage intake system, that produces 400-plus horsepower and more than 350 ft.-lbs. of torque. The all-new IS-F is equipped with engine-oil and transmission-fluid coolers for high-speed performance and a cylinder head-scavenging oil pump for high g-force driving.

The IS-F engine is mated to the world's first eight-speed direct sport-shift transmission. A new torque-converter lock-up control was developed that allows for a direct, crisp gear change through the constant lock-up of the torque converter in second through eighth gears. In Drive mode, the IS-F transmission performs with great smoothness, and the torque converter allows for great launch ability for fast standing-start acceleration that will register a zero-to-60 time in less than 4.9 seconds.

This unique transmission also features an advanced Manual mode. A pair of paddles located within a fingertip's reach behind the steering wheel enables the driver to make ultra-fast up-shift gear changes within a tenth of a second. Downshifts are accompanied by automated and incredibly precise throttle blips to match engine RPM to vehicle speed.

The impressive acceleration achieved by the IS-F requires it be equipped with heavy-duty Brembo brakes designed to the specifications of the Lexus engineering team. Huge, 14.2-inch cross-drilled front discs are gripped by rigid, powerful six-piston aluminum calipers, while 13.6-inch rear cross-drilled discs feature two-piston calipers. High-friction brake pads are equipped on all four wheels. The brakes are finished with the Lexus name displayed on the calipers, a first for a Lexus production vehicle.

The IS-F features custom-designed 19-inch forged alloy wheels as standard. The wheels were built to Lexus specifications by BBS and are surrounded by high-performance sport tires.

The attention to performance also extends to a modified suspension that lowers the entire car by more than a half-inch when compared to the base IS, and one full inch when compared to IS models equipped with 18-inch wheels. This specially modified suspension allows for an exciting and energetic drive, whether on a race track or the streets.

The IS-F features an all-new three-mode version of Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. In addition to the Normal mode, the new VDIM features a Sport mode that allows the driver to push the car even further before its braking-, throttle- and steering-control systems kick in. The third VDIM system mode is Off, which allows the driver to push the IS-F to its ultimate level of handling performance.

The attention to performance is complemented by modified styling cues that differentiate the IS-F from the standard IS. Lexus engineers provided the IS-F with a dual-exhaust system and quad-tail pipes, wider front fenders, and a larger grille and rear spoiler. Both the hood and lower intake were enlarged to accommodate and cool the V8 engine.

Like the exterior, the interior of the IS-F receives unique styling with aluminized composite trim and special surface treatments. The instrument panel includes an oil-temperature gauge and shift indicator-lights, while the "F" logo is showcased on the steering wheel and rear-center console.

In addition to the usual Lexus standards of comfort and convenience, the interior of the IS-F features specially shaped and trimmed seats, which hold the driver comfortably and securely in place. The special sport seats are available in black or a unique high-contrast white and black trim.

"The intent of creating the IS-F was not to be a competitor to other performance-sport sedans," said Carter. "Rather, the goal was to create a true performance sedan in a uniquely Lexus way-one that is totally authentic with a unique interpretation of raw driving thrill at all speeds and provides a whole new definition of 'usable power.'"

The IS-F will arrive at Lexus dealerships in early 2008.

Lexus IS-F Preliminary Specifications

Engine: 5.0 Liter V8
Estimated Horsepower: More than 400
Estimated Torque: More than 350 lb.-ft.
Transmission: Eight-speed direct paddle sport shift gear box

Large diameter cross-drilled discs
Front/Rear: 14.2 inches/13.6 inches

Opposed aluminum calipers
Front/Rear: Six piston/two piston

Forged aluminum wheels
Front: 225/40R19 (19 x8)
Rear: 255/35R19 (19 x 9)

0-60 MPH Acceleration: Under 4.9 seconds
Fuel Economy: TBD
Emissions Rating: ULEV II

Dimensions (inches)
Overall Length: 183.5
Overall Width: 71.5
Overall Height: 55.5
Wheelbase: 107.5

Share This Photo X