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You'll Like The 2011 Lexus IS F If...

If the tried-and-true BMW M3 sedan is too common for your tastes, the IS F offers rivaling performance with additional flair. Wild bodywork, massive horsepower and a sports-oriented interior are this vehicle’s strong suits.

You May Not Like The 2011 Lexus IS F If...

Fans of conservative styling should look elsewhere for their thrills. Lexus has bestowed some very aggressive bodywork on the IS F in the form of flared fenders with front air outlets, a bulging grille and large 19-inch wheels. Expect to attract attention.

What's New

For 2011, new spring rates and additional camber in the rear suspension of the IS F add to the vehicle’s sporting edge, while a recalibrated electronic power steering system now provides more feedback than before. Inside, new color options, Alcantara seat inserts and aluminum trim adorn the cockpit.

Interior Features

For 2011, Lexus has incorporated a few changes inside. Most noticeably, buyers who choose black as an interior color will now enjoy Alcantara seat inserts with leather bolsters. Additionally, Lexus has said goodbye to its old Terra Cotta color scheme in favor of a more wild orange-on-black with contrasting stitching, and designers have incorporated splashes of silver-colored trim along the steering wheel and made use of new instrument-panel gauges.

Exterior Features

The IS F wears a host of aesthetic additions to differentiate the vehicle from its more tame siblings. A fascia with large trapezoidal air inlets sets the tone up front, along with a bulging hood that accommodates the sedan’s high-horsepower V8. Subtle "F" badging adorns the bodywork in various locations and flared fenders make room for wider sports wheels and tires. The front fenders incorporate large air outlets for evacuating heat, while the rear fascia displays a quad stacked exhaust appearance.

Driving Impressions

At first blush, we felt that Lexus’ claimed horsepower figures were more than a bit conservative. We were shattering the highest speed limits in the U.S. in just two upshifts and, despite the fact that we didn’t disarm the IS F’s stability control for the curvy sections, the logic allowed for some very aggressive driving before kicking in. With wider rear tires and 54 percent of its weight on the front wheels, the IS F can lose front grip first if you get into a corner too fast – but by that time you’ll be going way too fast for public roads, anyway. On the other hand, that chassis behavior is ideal for overly-aggressive street driving or track-day novices. On the whole, the ride comfort is perfectly acceptable on smooth roads, but not so terrific over uneven pavement.

Pricing Notes

The 2011 Lexus IS F starts a little over $60,000. With premium audio, navigation and all the bells and whistles, the IS F can approach $65,000. Even fully loaded, the IS F is thousands cheaper than the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and about the same price as the BMW M3. Typically, the Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 have commanded better-than-average resale values over time and the IS F follows in their footsteps. To find out what consumers are really paying for this vehicle, check out the New Car Blue Book Value, which reflects real-world transaction prices in your area.

Notable Equipment

If you build a car capable of 170 miles per hour (and more without its electronic speed limiter), you’d better be able to get it slowed down in a hurry. Lexus worked with Brembo to build extra-large brakes and asked BBS to produce 19-inch wheels to accept those big brakes. The front vented-and-drilled brake discs are 14.2 inches in diameter and are grasped by six-piston aluminum brake calipers. On the rear, two-piston calipers squeeze 13.6-inch rotors.

Notable Options

Among the few options available on the 2010 Lexus IS F is an excellent 300-watt sound system with 14 speakers and a six-disc in-dash DVD/CD changer. Those who park the IS F in tight places will want the backup video camera and the sonar-based sensor system that warns of unseen objects. Other options include a DVD-based navigation system and a Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

Favorite Features

Eight-Speed TransmissionThe eight-speed automatic transmission in the 2011 Lexus IS F allows the average civilian to shift faster than a professional racer. Indeed, Lexus says the gearbox is the world’s fastest-shifting automatic. Upshifts take 0.1 second, while downshifts occur in 0.2 second and include an automatic throttle blip to match the speeds of the engine, transmission and drive wheels. Paddle ShiftersIn the transmission’s manual mode, shifting is accomplished with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The car gives a single beep when it’s about time to upshift, and a double beep means the driver tried to downshift at too high a speed.

Under the Hood

For the IS F, Lexus replaced the 306-horsepower V6 in the IS 350 with an enhanced version of the 4.6-liter V8 used in the LS and GS (5.0 liters in this application). In order to bump horsepower to 416, Lexus engineers added electronically-controlled variable intake valve timing. This feature is maximized with titanium intake valves, which are lighter and stronger than steel. Also, maximum engine speed was upped from 6,500 to 6,800 rpm. Torque is down 14 pound-feet and occurs 1,200 rpm higher than in the LS 600h L. The eight-speed automatic upshifts only about 0.05-second slower than that of a Formula 1 car. Traction and stability control can be adjusted to allow for a more dynamic drive with the touch of the "Sport" mode switch on the dash, or the system can be disarmed completely.5.0-liter V8416 horsepower @ 6600 rpm371 lb.-ft. @ 5200 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23

Editors' Notes

When Lexus introduced the IS F in 2007 the sports sedan was the fastest product car to ever wear the bent L in its grille. Now that the Japanese automaker has introduced the supercar-fighting LFA to the world, the muscle-bound sedan no longer wears that crown – but that doesn’t mean it’s lost any of its bite. For 2011, engineers spent time refining the vehicle’s already impressive suspension and electronic power steering system and added new aesthetic touches to the cabin. The changes go a long way toward making the four-year-old platform feel young at heart.

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