Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Debuts With A 5.0 Litre V8

The new IS500 F Sport Performance is perhaps Lexus’ swan-song for its naturally aspirated V8. 

In an age where downsizing, forced induction and electrification is the norm for the sake of the environment, many have perhaps presumed that the days of large capacity, naturally aspirated engines are numbered, if not behind us already. Happily however, Lexus, of all people, have decided that the age of the N/A V8 is not yet over with the recent launch of its mad, bad IS 500 F Sport Performance. 

The first of the marque’s new F Sport Performance lineup, the big news surrounding this IS 500 is undoubtably the naturally aspirated 5.0 litre V8 that has been shoehorned under the bulging hood of this recently refreshed compact sedan. The same engine as to be found in the Lexus LC 500 super coupe, peak power and torque is rated to be a more than healthy 472 hp and 536 Nm, which incidentally are achieved at a screaming 7,100 rpm and 4,800 rpm respectively. 

As for putting all this power down to the road meanwhile, that is the responsibility of an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission that sends it through a Torsen limited slip differential to solely the rear wheels. This therefore translates to a 0-96 km/h (0-60 mph) time of just 4.5 seconds, but more impressively perhaps is the claimed fuel efficiency figure of a reasonable 10.2 km/l (24 mpg). 

Then again, it is not just the mightily impressive powertrain that deserves all the attention here, as the other performance bits that complement that mighty V8 under the hood deserve their time in the sun too. Chief among which being the standard fitment of Lexus’ Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) to the IS 500 F Sport Performance, bringing with it Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) as well as Yamaha rear performance dampers. 

To add to that, the brakes on the IS 500 F Sport Performance has also been similarly uprated from stock too, featuring larger two-piece aluminium rotors up front and out the back. All of which are cooled more efficiently thanks to enhanced aerodynamic cooling, and are hidden behind bespoke 19-inch split-10-spoke Enkei alloy wheels wrapped in low profile performance tyres. 

Now speaking of those lightweight wheels, they are perhaps the biggest distinguishing feature of this performance sedan against its common counterparts. That is because Lexus has apparently taken much more restrained exterior aesthetic approach with this new sports sedan, adding only subtle tweaks like the raised bonnet up front, in addition to unique black badging and dark chrome window trim down the side to signify that this is indeed the top-tier F Sport Performance model. 

Nevertheless, there is still a little bit more drama round the back of this particular Japanese premium performance sedan as it gains a black rear lip spoiler, as well as a revised lower rear diffuser. All in the name of drawing the eye towards the signature stacked quad-exhaust tips which has graced every performance Lexus model since the original IS-F. 

Moving inside, bespoke pedals and a custom animation on the digital driver’s display join the black F Sport Performance badging on the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and door sill scuff plates. Additionally, two new Sport S and Sport S+ driving modes have been added to further spice things up while out on the road, and enhance that ‘Lexus Driving Signature’. 

All said however, it should come as no surprise that, despite its monstrous V8 under the hood and all this associated performance enhancements, the IS 500 F Sport Performance is still a very much a Lexus, and as such therefore features a plethora of active driver aids as part of the comprehensive Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 like All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) with Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA) and the Pre-Collision System (PCS) to name a few. Lexus Enform Safety and Service Connect concierge service  are also available on this super sedan too. 

Available exclusively for the North American market, prices and further details regarding this upcoming IS 500 F SPORT Performance will be officially announced sometime closer to its arrival in dealerships over there later this year. What is clear though is that, with every other super sedan downsizing and electrifying, along with Toyota’s prior announcement regarding the cancellation of its next-generation V8, this could well perhaps be the last of the true blue naturally aspirated V8 super sedans to come in the foreseeable future. 

So to the true blue petrolhead who laments the death of the good old days of the N/A V8, this is perhaps your last chance to own one of these shining examples of a blast from the automotive past. 

PRESS RELEASE: Last year’s reimagined front-engine rear-wheel-drive IS struck the perfect balance of sportiness and sophistication, making it the best IS to date. However, Chief Engineer Naoki Kobayashi and his team at Lexus International have been working on something truly special exclusively for the North American market. Enter the first-ever Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance, which dials up the sports sedan formula to eleven with the addition of a powerful 472-horsepower naturally aspirated V8 engine and ferocious quad exhaust system. It expands the IS family and ushers in a new era of F SPORT Performance models that will appeal to passionate driving enthusiasts that crave higher levels of performance over the standard F SPORT models.

A Rare Breed: Lexus F SPORT Performance Line

As the first model in the new Lexus F SPORT Performance line, the IS 500 engine provides a boost in displacement and performance over the IS 350’s 3.5-liter V6. With a push of the engine start button, its naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine roars to life, providing a not-so-subtle reminder that something special lies beneath its raised hood. The IS 500 has a maximum output of 472 hp at 7,100 rpm and 395 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,800 rpm. Despite the drastically more powerful engine, the vehicle tips the scales at 3,891 pounds, gaining only 143 pounds of additional curb weight over the standard IS 350 F SPORT. The IS 500 is capable of delivering a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds and has a manufacturer-estimated 24 mpg highway rating. Other IS 500 performance enhancements include a throaty quad exhaust system with dual stacked tail pipes that perfectly amplify the new V8 engine. This exhaust not only sounds ferocious, but is inspired by F models, like the RC F.

IS 500 uses the same the same eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission found in the IS 300 and IS 350 RWD models. It also features drive mode select Sport S and Sport S+, which provides advanced engine and transmission mapping to enhance performance. Sport S+ also adjusts the amount of EPS steering assist and damping force to deliver sportier handling to match the updated powertrain settings. Custom Mode is also available, offering multiple combinations for powertrain (Normal/Eco/Power), chassis (Normal/Sport) and air conditioner (Normal/Eco).

Starting with the 2022 IS 500, Lexus F SPORT Performance models will come adorned with unique black badging on the sides to distinguish it from F models.

Building on Lexus Driving Signature

The new 2021 IS launched an era of vehicles developed at Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama with a uniform Lexus Driving Signature. Since Lexus launched, the tactile feel, behavior, and execution for each model has been driven by the vision and efforts of the Chief Engineer. Moving forward, the efforts of the CE will be focused on elevating the vehicles to a new standard of performance and handling as developed by Lexus International President and Chief Branding Officer Koji Sato and Master Driver and Brand Holder Akio Toyoda. The ultimate goal is to deliver a new generation of Lexus vehicles that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before. Linear steering, brake responses, and optimized handling with exceptional ride quality is the result of heightened focus on tuning of the chassis and its interactions with the control surfaces through diligent evaluation at a test facility unlike any other.

The all-new IS 500 builds on the improvements made to the 2021 IS with a focus on delivering confidence and a linear connection between driver and vehicle. The IS 500 will come standard with the IS RWD F SPORT’s Dynamic Handling Package (DHP), which includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and a Torsen limited slip differential (LSD) that improves handling and performance thanks to enhanced traction when cornering or exiting turns. The LSD helps maintain straight-line stability as well. Engineers have also improved the IS chassis performance with the addition of a Yamaha rear performance damper. This damper reduces dynamic structural distortion, delivering increased comfort at low speeds, and additional stability and agility at high speeds. Brake cooling enhancements have also been made over the standard IS 350 F SPORT with additional aerodynamic cooling and larger 14.0-inch two-piece aluminum front rotors and 12.7-inch rear rotors.

The Devil’s in the Details

The IS 500 features subtle exterior enhancements to help set it apart from the standard IS 350 F SPORT. The hood has been raised nearly 2 inches and receives sculpted center character lines, while the front bumper and fenders have been lengthened to help accommodate the vehicle’s naturally aspirated V8 muscle. IS 500 will come standard with exclusive 19-inch split-10-spoke Enkei alloy wheels. Not only are they beautiful and intricate, the wheels are approximately 1-pound lighter per wheel in front and 2 pounds lighter per wheel in the rear, compared to the standard 19-inch F SPORT wheel.  Other exterior updates include a revised lower rear diffuser accent that accentuates the quad exhaust system, as well as dark chrome window trim. Tying these visual and performance cues together is the black IS F SPORT rear lip spoiler.

Inside, drivers are greeted with black F SPORT Performance badging on the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and door sill scuff plates. It also comes standard with the IS F SPORT accelerator pedal, brake pedal and footrest, but the combination instrumentation meter receives an updated startup animation that is exclusive to IS 500.

Enhanced Lexus Safety System+

The IS 500 inherits the updated Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 recently launched on the 2021 IS. A number of key features that are part of the Lexus Safety System+ have been enhanced, along with the addition of a few new features.

For starters, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which include Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range. By enhancing the radar and camera capabilities it is now possible for the system to help detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in daytime and low-light conditions. At intersections, the system has the capability under certain conditions to recognize an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and is designed to activate typical PCS functions if needed. Additional PCS functions include Emergency Steering Assist (ESA), which is designed to assist steering within the vehicle’s lane as cued by the driver.

All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and can resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle going slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal, the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes and; after the driver changes lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the original preset driving speed.

Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA) is designed to help notify the driver if it senses an inadvertent lane departure at speeds above 32 miles per hour via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert. It can also take slight corrective measures to help keep the driver within the visibly marked lane. When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to provide slight steering force to help steer to the center of the lane to assist the driver with staying in the lane using visible lane markers or a preceding vehicle. LTA alerts the driver with a visual warning and either an audible alert or steering wheel vibration. In the new IS, the lane recognition performance, which makes LTA possible, has been improved with enhanced recognition of line and road edge, lateral G performance, and enhanced control and stability after lane change.

Additional Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 features include Intelligent High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights. Road Sign Assist (RSA) is designed to acquire certain road sign information using a camera and navigation maps when data is available and displays them on the multi-information display (MID).

Lexus Enform for Safety and Convenience

Lexus Enform Safety Connect comes with a three-year trial with access to Lexus Enform response centers 24/7/365. With Lexus Enform Service Connect, complimentary for the first 10 years, the vehicle can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance while simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus dealer. In addition, the Lexus App allows guests to do everything from starting their vehicle remotely with a smartphone, to contacting dealers for a service appointment, and much more. With an active subscription, the Lexus App dashboard provides a personalized view of convenient vehicle and connected service information, including the Vehicle Health Report, scheduled maintenance and vehicle health alerts. Guests also can manage their subscriptions right from the palm of their hand.

More information regarding MSRP, options, exterior and interior color choices will be made available closer to launch. The all-new 2022 IS 500 F SPORT Performance is expected to arrive in dealerships later this Fall.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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