2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Lexus Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

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2008 Lexus IS F

So what does the ‘F’ stand for?

No it’s not Fun, Frisky, Feelgood, or Flat-Out. Follow this official Lexus web site link to a ringtone that apparently says what the ‘F’ really means. (You might want to get Nana and the kids to leave the room before you turn up the speakers.)

Soundbite snafus aside, the IS F is a performance combination that harkens back to a time when John Z. DeLorean was busy shoe-horning big-block mills into intermediate Pontiac’s. This modern-day luxo-GTO weighs in with an MSRP of $64,450. (Pricing shown does not include freight, taxes, or regional incentives.)

2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F. Click image to enlarge
The cockpit/centre stack

When you’re more than doubling the MSRP of a base IS 250, you had better throw in some appliqué chic, maybe even a stitch or two, but that chromed carbon fibre look just might make its way into a Smokey and the Bandit remake. The good part about the absence of a techno-package on the base F is a leather-wrapped three-spoke wheel that isn’t uber-busy with switchery. The tilt and telescopic steering wheel action is power-operated, with tabs reserved for the information display, and audio selection. The 4 o’clock mount for the cruise control reveals the usual Toyota-fed mini-stalk.

Headlamps receive the all-important Auto setting. To the left of the driver are the power tabs for the trunk and fuel door, dimmer switch, and a rocker switch for accessing the tire pressure monitoring system, as well as the defeat for the Sport Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system. (Sport VDIM) There is a separate defeat switch for the F’s traction control. The rocker switch for the Sport/Normal/Snow modes for the eight-speed automatic is found to the right of the column.

2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F. Click image to enlarge

This Supreme Slushbox can be manually manipulated, at the shifter itself, or through the use of steering wheel-mounted paddles. The gauge pod gets electric blue sweep dials, a 300 km/h speedo, coolant temperature, and the best example yet that proves good gauges can happen in small, legible packages. Such is the case for the voltmeter and engine oil temperature, housed in the centre display with the primary gear selection. As small as the info display is, it is never over-powering or difficult to read.

The driver’s door pod houses Auto ascent/descent for all windows, and the directional controls for the heated, self-dimming, and break-away style exterior mirrors. Note the three seating memory position switches, which also exist for the front passenger. The centre stack provides dual zone HVAC knack, a six-CD stacker, plus the required rough-in for a satellite radio upgrade.

Cubbies!

The locking glovebox includes a valet lock-out for the trunk, and a partition for the owner’s lit, which still interferes with the overall usage of the cavity. The centre armrest can slide for increased comfort, sliding back and tipping upwards to reveal the inner console cavity. A removable cupholder partition exists, which might be a good idea to remove altogether, with a flock-lined interior just asking to be soiled. The central flip-top cupholder is best suited for take-out java cups, and gets away without cinchers, thanks to good depth. There’s a 12-volt DC powerpoint, with an auxiliary audio plug-in. That makes two powerpoints in total, when you count the smoker’s package, hidden by a sliding door ahead of the shifter. The front doors employ tip-out door pockets, with bottle holder dedication. The rear doors receive no cubby love, though there are rear seatback pockets, another ashtray, (what year is this?) and a flip-down armrest with a slide-out dual cupholder with reasonable cinch.

The overhead

Map lights have gone the way of the LED within the IS front overhead pod, which houses a sunglasses holder, and a seven-position dial for the power moonroof. Visors receive overhead-lit vanity mirrors, and card holders for both sides. There is no provision for the visors to slide for additional sunblock.

Seat treat

2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F
2008 Lexus IS F. Click image to enlarge

Riding shotgun takes on a whole new meaning within the F, with both driver and front passenger units equipped with eight-way power direction, and power lumbar bladders. Front seats also benefit from three-step heating. The IS Comfort Dummy was unavailable for this week’s photo shoot, though we are pleased to report that the author encountered good positioning for both front and rear passengers. The Comfort Dummy was then given a sound thrashing, for his crime of forgetting the tripod. The rear seat is at peace with declaring itself a two-seater, with a flat parcel tray where the middle cushion would have lived.

Cargo embargo

The F’s cargo hold is expertly trimmed, with cargo net tether points, floor-mount tiedowns, a first aid kit, even an adjustable tether strap to keep your jug of windscreen spritz from rolling about during hard cornering. (Oh yes; there will be cornering.)

Spare care

Doo doo, doody doody doo-doo-doo-doo. The circus is in town, with a Clown Yellow space-saver spare within the IS spare cavity, which would be hard-pressed to contain a matching 19-inch wheel. Actually, you would need two, since there are different tires sizes for front and rear. Tools are contained within heavy nylon zipper bags. Lexus will send in the clowns, I mean Clown Yellow tire changers for you, during the first four years of ownership, with no mileage limit.

The mill

Something wicked this way hums: a 5.0-litre DOHC V8, with 416 horsepower. (Let us all observe a moment of silence.) There is the usual no-touchy Lexus side pieces and engine cover, though the primary fluid levels are easily marked and accessed. Upon closer inspection, the V8 isn’t as unserviceable as one would think. The removal of the deco-cover should allow simple access to the coil-on-plug array for all cylinders.

The Verdict

The IS F provides an impressive level of creature comforts, in addition to the ability to add cargo and passengers without folding them before insertion. Oh, and did we mention the 0-to-60 blasts under five seconds? Five stars. (And get the apropos ringtone before Lexus finds out.)

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