2022 Lexus IS500 F Sport Performance Pros and Cons Review: A Charming Curiosity

Pros

  • V-8 bragging rights
  • V-8 engine note
  • Good ride quality

 Cons

  • V-8 fuel economy
  • No AWD option
  • Slow-reacting transmission

The newest Lexus IS sport sedan punches an eight-cylinder peg through a six-cylinder hole with predictably polarizing results. Essentially an IS350 F Sport with a 472-hp naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8, the IS500 F Sport Performance is a throwback to when turbocharged engines didn’t yet dominate the premium sport sedan space. The powerful Lexus carves its own path in a niche shared with the Audi S4, BMW M340i, and Mercedes-AMG C43, but we’ll get right to it: The Lexus doesn’t shift the conversation in a significant way. This one’s for dedicated Lexus performance fans.

Opinions on the special Lexus generally fall to one of two viewpoints. Some feel the flagship IS is a seriously desirable sport sedan and plead for enthusiasts to buy one before eight-cylinder sport sedans go extinct. On the other side, doubters scoff at this turbo-free V-8 engine appearing in yet another application, here in a four-door that can’t deliver the well-rounded performance of the segment’s best.

“I wanted this to be more fun than it was,” deputy editor Alex Stoklosa said. “Whether because of the V-8’s nonexistent low-end torque, the car’s mass, the eight-speed automatic transmission’s refusal to grab lower gears on its own, or all three, it feels almost as if the engine strains when you ask it for the beans.” Executive editor Mac Morrison added: “This automatic gearbox made for a disjointed experience on the winding-road handling track. Don’t even think about leaving it in auto mode.”

There are few surprises with the IS500 F Sport Performance. It’s heavier than the German competition, gets atrocious fuel economy relative to comparable Audis and BMWs, and lacks the more instantaneous punch of a turbocharged engine. But oh, that V-8. “The soundtrack alone is worth half of the asking price, as this engine revs to beyond 7,000 rpm,” technical director Frank Markus said.

Considered as a daily driver, the Lexus makes more sense—though even that’s not an absolute. Most judges agreed the ride was more comfortable than the average sport sedan’s and appreciated the steering feel. But the inconsistent interior quality at this $62,075 as-tested MSRP left many cold.

“Same tired interior with disappointing materials,” digital director Erik Johnson said about this latest variant of the long-running Lexus IS.

Added Markus: “This interior looks antique. The logic of the buttons and switches, and that infernal touchpad, are off-putting.” We’ve experienced the future of Lexus infotainment and are largely impressed, but that’s no use to the driver of a car that lacks the new tech.

Let’s focus more on that 472-hp, 395-lb-ft powerplant. With a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds, the IS falls one tenth of a second slower than the three Germans. Hmm. Also, for those who live in areas that experience lots of rain or snow, consider the fact those rivals offer AWD as optional or standard, unlike the Lexus.

Despite the IS500 F Sport Performance’s flaws, senior editor Conner Golden took a glass-half-full perspective. “It makes incredible sounds, has just the right amount of speed, packs eight cylinders and no turbos, and will likely cost about as much as your grandma’s ES350 to keep running past 500,000 miles.”

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