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2010 IS-F Review

Review Last Updated: 5/19/10

The 2010 Lexus IS F is fast and furious, but lags behind the competition when it comes to handling. Edmunds writes: "Make no mistake, the IS-F is a serious machine that will quickly slice through a curvy road and pin you to the seat when you pin your right foot to the floor. ...  But when compared to models like the BMW M3, Cadillac CTS-V and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, it comes up short in terms of real-world usability and overall satisfaction."

The 2010 Lexus IS F is a performance-tuned variant of the 2010 Lexus IS, which garners praise among upscale midsize cars for its responsive handling dynamics, superb interior finish and -- in the case of the IS 350 -- admirable straight-line acceleration.

Introduced in 2008, the Lexus IS F ups the ante with 212 more horsepower than the IS 250 and 110 more horsepower than the IS 350. It also features enhanced performance engineering. Combined, these upgrades make for a thrilling ride and a first of its kind for Lexus. "The initial sign of enthusiast life on Planet Lexus is the IS F, an M3 rival with a roaring V-8 that readily paints rubber stripes," writes Car and Driver. "The first Lexus to hit 60 mph in the low-four-second bracket definitely isn't boring, although it doesn't have the immediacy (yet) of its German competition." Indeed, other reviewers report that the 2010 Lexus IS F can't quite match the performance attributes of its BMW and Mercedes-Benz counterparts.

The 2010 Lexus IS F is equipped with a 416-horsepower V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode.

  • "The IS F blends luxury and high performance into an incredibly refined package. If you're shopping the BMW M3 or Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, add IS F to your list." -- Consumer Guide
  • "To describe the Lexus LS F as fun to drive would be bland understatement. This is an authentic performance car that brings smiles to professional driving instructors and racers on the world's fastest racetracks. For the average driver, this is a car so able, so secure, it changes the way you see the road." -- New Car Test Drive

The Bottom Line

Test drivers, on balance, agree that the 2010 Lexus IS F makes for an exhilarating experience. It's powerful, fast and handles well. Many, however, also note that some rivals handle better.

The 414-horsepower 2010 BMW M3, for example, costs roughly the same and features similar performance specs, but provides all-around better handling. There is, however, a tradeoff. While the 2010 BMW M3 and 2010 Lexus IS F accelerate from 0 to 60 in roughly the same amount of time, the 2010 Lexus IS F maxes out at 170 mph -- that's 15 mph more than the Bimmer. While most drivers will never take their vehicles to such ridiculously high speeds, it still matters to some.

Like the M3, the similarly-priced 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG's top speed is also limited to 155 mph. However, it provides 35 more horsepower than the 2010 Lexus IS F and accelerates from 0 to 60 slightly quicker -- 0.3 seconds to be exact. Moreover, test drivers report that it too is a better handler than the 2010 Lexus IS F.

With options like these, interested car shoppers should think long and hard about what matters most to them -- a higher top speed or superior handling. It would be wise to test drive all three before making a final decision.

Performance Dynamics

Test drivers assert that the 2010 Lexus IS F is a thrilling performer, but when compared to class leaders like the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG it falters. What's more, its taut suspension leaves auto writers split.

The 2010 Lexus IS F is equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 416 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 371 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. An eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters and manual mode is standard. According to Lexus, the 2010 Lexus IS F has a top speed of 170 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The EPA reports that the 2010 Lexus IS F nets a city/highway fuel economy of 16/23 mpg.

The rear-wheel drive 2010 Lexus IS F features an Electronic Power Steering, as well as an independent double wishbone suspension in the front and rear. The 2010 Lexus IS F is brought to a stop by Brembo disc brakes, an Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. Traction Control is also standard.

  • "[T]he engine is outstanding, but it doesn't deliver the low-end grunt its specs promise. With 371 pound-feet of torque it should be gutsier than the BMW [M3], but peak twist occurs way up at 5200 rpm, just 1600 short of the redline.  ... The IS F's handling, however, is hard to fault. There's a confidence to the chassis that inspires the driver to push it up to, and sometimes over, the limit." -- Car and Driver
  • "If prodded, the IS-F will lay down rubber in a torrent of billowing white smoke until the tires self-destruct, provided you turn off the electronic stability control. Although we'd still like to see an option for a traditional manual transmission, the eight-speed auto is definitely well suited for racetrack duty, thanks to its super-quick upshifts and rev-matched downshifts." -- Edmunds
  • "On the road, the Lexus IS F is pleasingly quick, precise and responsive. The car emits a low growl and feels good on winding roads that invite bursts of throttle, a brief tap of the brake and a smooth glide through the next apex." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "IS F accelerates with race-car thrust, yet is remarkably docile in around-town driving. Credit its 8-speed automatic for lightning-fast, yet smooth shifts.  ... IS F is fairly comfortable on most surfaces despite its performance suspension and wide, track-ready tires." -- Consumer Guide
  • "From the company that's synonymous with a cloudlike ride comes a suspension that's as cushy as a manhole cover." -- Motor Trend

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