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2009 Lexus IS F – High Performance, Handling, Safety and Practicality

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The 2009 Lexus IS F is a high performance contender for the luxury sedan market.

Besides its sheer performance, here are a few questions that need to be answered about the Lexus IS F practically:

1. How does the IS F behave in rush hour traffic?
2. How will it do running errands around town?
3. How will it do with a family of four?
4. Will the women dig the ride?

Climb into the Lexus IS, F’s deep cockpit and settle into the heavy bolstered sport seat, which unlike Lexus lS250/350 siblings, you will realize that this sports sedan can get you into trouble fast.

Hit the push-button start, and pressed lightly on the pedal, and control the urge to floor it as it’s very tempting with this V8 engine’s deep bass rumble.

In Lexus advertising campaign Lexus referred to the IS F as “the beast” and you will see why once you drive this sports sedan. The IS F does have raw power to push this car to high speeds and fast, but beyond that it feels very controlled and refined, waiting for your direct input.

There is apparent similarities with the tamer IS 250/350, the IS F is more of a pimped up versions. Is it like the M3 is to the BMW 3 Series, What the RS4 was to the A4 and what the C63 AMG is to a C-Class Mercedes-Benz.

The doors, rear quarters and roof are shared with the other IS models
, and a lot of changes had to be made for improvements made under the skin. For instance, the hood has a hump to room for the larger 5.0 litre V8 engine, which was developed in partnership with Yamaha’s Formula 1 engine program. This Lexus IS F engine puts out 416 hp and 371 lb/ft of torque…WOW!

A larger grille and lower air dam was also needed to improve air flow for better cooling of the engine, and of course to help cool the car’s big brake disc there are large air ducts beside the fog lamps. The wheel openings have more flare to them on the Lexus IS F, this was necessary to accomodate the lightweight 19″ forged and polished aluminum wheels, which are equipped with P225/40R19 tires in front and P255/35R19 in the rear.

The back of the vehicle is different as well, large openings in the lower bumper reveal quad exhaust diffusers. It’s not just a style statement, but are fully functional and helps reduce backpressure and forcing gases up to assist keeping the rear end of the vehicle down. The aim here is to provide the rear wheel with better grip by increasing down pressure.

Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM) is available on the IS 250 and IS 350, however on the Lexus IS F, it has been specifically tuned to offer the IS F as to offer four easy switch settings:
- Normal
- Sport
- Snow
- Off
The above settings give the driver either full, partial or no electronic control at all.

If you leave the VDIM setting on Normal the sensors will keep an eye on what the car is doing and compare that to what the driver is commanding, and if it senses skidding or sliding the VDIM system will interfere by braking, adding or reducing throttle and also some steering assist. Of course nothing beats a drivers common sense, however it is a nice to have feature when you make a mistake when dealing with 416 hp.

Now, if you turn the VDIM feature off, only two electronic assist you have is ABS and EBD, which means no traction control and with 416 hp under the rear wheel , it’s not hard to get the car all squirly, especially on wet pavement. And although it’s great
fun tossing around the IS F on the race track or skid pad, it’s not so much fun on the streets or highways when you wrap this beautiful beast of a sports sedan around a light pole.

Even veteran race driver needs assistance of the VDIM. With the VDIM set on “Sport” setting you experience a higher threshold to allow tires to skid a little sideways before it engages, the engine, auto transmission and steering are all modified by VDIM to offer a higher performance driving experience.

The suspension for the Lexus IS F has been upgraded compared to your standard IS 250. The IS F has a double-wishbone front and a multi-link rear, however it rides one inch lower to the ground, thus reducing the center of gravity and improving handling. When pushed hard around corners the IS F does it like it is on rails, yet it provides a comfortable ride for everyday use.

The Lexus IS F 5.0 litre 32 valve DOHC V8 engine breathes through dual intakes, the primary intake for low and medium engine speeds and the secondary for above 3600 RPM to help boost power. The fringe benefit of this system is the mean exhaust growl the builds as you approach the red line.

The transmission for the Lexus IS F is an eight speed Sport Direct Shift automatic. With a 0.1 of a second shift time, it is the world’s fastest shift time for street legal production cars. The transmission has a 2 modes D and M. The D Mode locks the torque converter for all gear changes, while the M mode behaves like a true manual transmission but faster shifts, offering 100ms upshifts which combined with the paddle shifters propels the Lexus IS F from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds.

Safety of Lexus are renowned, the front wheels of the Lexus IS F are fitted with 14.2 inch ventilated disc brakes with 6 piston calipers, and the rear is equipped with 13.6 inch ventillated discs with 2 piston calipers. All brake components work directly with ABS, BA and EBD, and of course the central brain the VDIM system.

The Lexus IS F comes standard with driver and front passenger airbags, knee airbags and front and rear head/side curtain airbags.

Besides safety features there are creature comforts and inside the Lexus IS F you will find 8 way power adjustable and heated front seats with 3 memory settings and dual zone automatic climate control. To start the IS F’s engine, you will need to press the “PUSH START” button which is activated by the smart key system. Few other features include the lockout protection, multi-info display and power moon roof. The Lexus stereo system comes with a 13 speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA car stereo system with automatic sound volume adjustment to compensate for engine and outside noise, which is generally quite minimal.

As for cabin room of the Lexus IS F sports sedan, the engineers tried to create as much back seat space as possible, providing enough kneeroom for average height rear passengers, however for taller individuals the sloping roofline would make it tight.

The trunk of the Lexus IS F has 11.0 cubic feet of storage, which is good for a full load of groceries or a weekend worth of luggage and possibly a few golf bags. The rear seat armrest also acts as a pass-through hole which you can put skis or lumber through if you should ever need to transport those items.

At $58,000 roughly for the Series 1 Lexus IS F, you get all of the above features which is quite a lot. However if you feel, it is not enough and want the works, well there is the Series 2, which comes with a Mark Levinson audio system and a DVD-based navigation system, back-up camera and a 7″ LCD display for an extra $5000.


Related posts:

  1. 2009 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid – Performance and Emission Friendly
  2. 2011 Lexus ES350 Time Tested Comfort In A Luxury Sedan

Editor @ December 28, 2009

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