Lexus claims that its front-engine rear-wheel-drive 2021 IS is the “perfect balance of sportiness and sophistication, making it the best IS to date.” Well, maybe until the all-new 2022 IS 500 F SPORT Performance model that is expected to arrive in dealerships later this Fall.
This is the first-ever Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance, with the addition of a 472-horsepower, naturally aspirated V8 engine and a quad exhaust system. It without question expands the IS family. It also appears to be the beginning a new line of F SPORT Performance models for driving enthusiasts that will spend big money for higher levels of performance over the standard F SPORT models. Current pricing on 2021 IS ~$39,000-$50,000.
As the first model in the new Lexus F SPORT Performance line, the IS 500 engine is larger in displacement and performance compared the IS 350’s 3.5-liter V6. (see AutoInformed on 2019 Lexus ES 350 in Production at Georgetown Kentucky) 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. Naturally it’s heavier at 3,891 pounds, gaining 143 pounds of additional curb weight over the standard IS 350 F SPORT. The IS 500 on paper is capable of delivering a 0-to-60 mph elapsed time of 4.5 seconds and has a manufacturer-estimated 24 mpg highway rating.
IS 500 uses the same eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission found in the IS 300 and IS 350 RWD models. It also has 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” (or is that harsher? – editor) 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 with black badging on the sides to distinguish it from F models.
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 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 is said to reduce dynamic structural distortion, delivering increased comfort at low speeds, and additional stability and agility at high speeds. Brake cooling enhancements over the standard IS 350 F SPORT come with additional aerodynamic cooling and larger 14.0-inch two-piece aluminum front rotors and 12.7-inch rear rotors.