The Lexus IS350 F Sport is a wild contrast of the best and worst things you can find in a performance sedan. The new 2014 model is an impressive leap forward, putting it ahead of the new BMW 335i in terms of performance, interior and reliability. Unfortunately, the exterior styling and price turn me off.
This car has a new suspension setup that compliments the power. The IS350 F has a v6 that delivers a silky 306hp. Could have more power? Sure. But honestly, 306 HP feels like plenty to throw the car around. The power is adequate, and more importantly, balanced.
What can I say, this mid size sedan handles like a coupe. It feels like it’s on rails and is well planted to the asphalt. The car’s handling is on par with a BMW M3. Steering and overall feel is direct, precise and balanced. It’s a mid sized sedan that feels like a small Coupe. The car is nimble and responsive, yet very comfortable. The car gets better as you go faster.
The IS350 F Sport really shines in this department. I used to think that BMW made some of the best seats in the business, but Lexus has made a huge improvement in overall comfort. The seats are comfortableâ€”the front two seats have nice side bolsters that huge your body from top to bottomâ€”they feel almost custom fit. They’re that good. I also really-really like the new dashboard. They’ve pulled the styling cue from the LFA, and it just looks sexy. It’s got one of the most refined interiors for a car that’s under 50k. You feel special when you get in the driver’s seat.
So this is the part where everything goes sour. For some people, they don’t care about the exterior and want a luxury performance sedan. For the price, I expect better styling. I know that the designers tried something new and bold, but the car really looks like it was modeled off the Predator. Don’t get me wrong, I love that movie, but I’m not sure if I’d call this a beautiful car. The lines are excessive and the shape lacks continuity. For me, the exterior doesn’t do the interior and performance justice.
The performance, handling and comfort of this car makes it a legit sports sedan. But damn, the styling and price makes the car hard to defend. When you pay that kind of money for a car, you expect some better styling. I’m not saying I want something conservativeâ€¦ but I definitely don’t want to drive a car that resembles the predator.
If you don’t care about the exterior and have deep pockets, this could be the car for you. Yes, people will probably judge your taste, but anyone who’s ever driven the new IS will know that it is the real deal. If you want something better looking, you may want to consider an Audi S4.
An Audi S4 costs about $10K more than an IS350 similarly loaded. Is the styling 10K better ? (and I think the IS looks better than the S4 IMO).
If you like the looks of the IS, it’s such a good deal. There’s no shame in owning it at allâ€”it really handles like a dream. A loaded IS350 F Sport will put run about $50k, and that makes it compete with other cars, like the Audi S4 (rather than a standard BMW 335i). I think that Lexus has made a big statement about the performance of their cars wearing the F badge. Buying the car for its styling is a personal choice… if you like the styling, it’s one of the most impressive sedans out there.
Thanks for clarifying your viewpoint.
But I also need to ask : handle on par with the M3? Wow that’s a pretty bold statement to make. Honestly I don’t have any seat time in an M3. I’m assuming you have, so could you go into more detail about handling aspects of the IS with respect to the M3?
Great question. To be specific, I would put the the new IS350 F Sport side by side a M3 (like a 2005 or 06 with about 335hp) in terms of performance and handling. The M3 is renowned for its ability to do everythingâ€”practicality, performance, luxury and comfort. The new IS has that same balance. It more of a driver’s car. Sure, there are a ton of electronics that go behind it, but the active suspension makes the car communicate about the conditions of the road. The seats cover more of your body, which helps you feel the balance of the car. The faster your drive, the better the car becomes. These are the characteristics that the new IS shares with an M3. However, even the newest IS350 F lacks a little power in comparison to an old M3. It’s also much more expensiveâ€”you can find a used M3 with a clean history for $30-35k.
I did a post about an M3 a while ago. Check it out:
The E46 M3 is not exactly comfortable, at least in terms of noise, ride, and for some, seat width.
Put some 15mm spacers on the wheels to bring them out to fit the flared wells, pick black to diminish the effect of the huge grille, and lay off the options and you have a nice reliable $45,000 car that handles and has good steering feel w/o a harsh ride. Resale value retention will help with that initial cost, also, if you sell it yourself. Real world buyers care a lot more about reliability than dealers do on trade-ins. Nobody worries about a 4 y/o Lexus with 60,000 miles on it.
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