- Tech & Gadgets
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Published 28 July 2011 05:01, Updated 23 November 2011 11:37
Getting into a high-performance car is a bit like being handed a loaded gun – you have to be careful where you point it. With the 2011 Lexus IS F, you need the equivalent of a shooting range – open space and lots of it – to fire off a clip or two.
This is Toyota’s muscle car – the rival for the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and BMW’s M3 – and it’s hotter than a Broken Hill summer.
At its big throbbing heart is a twin overhead-cam 5-litre V8 that pumps out 311kW of power at 6600rpm (about 420 horsepower) and 505Nm of torque at 5200rpm.
This hell hound has a dual-intake system for high revs and low to medium revs, which means its throaty grumble under 4000rpm turns into a blood-curdling roar above that.
The emphasis on revs is obvious when you sit in the driver’s seat – speed is registered on a small digital readout in the bottom corner of the large centre tachometer and a small dial that stops at 330km/h on the right.
Think Lexus and you imagine sedate, comfortable carriages to tootle around town in. The F blows tyre smoke up that and gives it a big raspberry on the way.
This car is better suited to full-throttle, adrenalin-pumping racing than picking up granny from the nursing home. Lexus claims 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
Here’s the thing, though, Toyota should have called this the LS, or licence shredder, rather than an IS. With a car this capable of getting so very fast so very quickly, it’s madness or stupidity to hit the accelerator with any vigour and not expect to be punished for it.
If you hit the power band at 6600rpm, you’re well above the speed limit no matter what gear you’re in. But I have to admit there’s a guilty pleasure in stamping on the loud pedal and it all comes as you grip the steering wheel as the beast roars and shoots you forward with heart-pumping heat.
Directing all that power to the road is an eight-speed sequential automatic gearbox with seamless gear changes and steering wheel paddles. Just flick it down two notches and blow past that Kia like it’s parked and rusting.
It has a system that pulls all of the safety systems together – traction control, vehicle stability control, ABS, brake assist, power steering and hill-start assist – that are all set up when you start the vehicle and basically help stop you from hurting yourself.
When you turn on “sport” mode, these controls are backed off a bit to make it better to drive while maintaining a sense of security. Turn them all off and you’re on your own.
The suspension is set hard so it hangs on tight in the corners but it’s not long before you’re thinking about stealing a cushion from the lounge.
The safety features of this car include a PCS and an ACC. They stop a CFE (crumpled front end) and LSH (long stay in hospital).
The PCS is a pre-crash safety system that engages when it senses that a collision is unavoidable. It tensions the seatbelts, arms the airbags, warns the driver with a light, dashboard display and buzzer and automatically applies the brakes to reduce the collision speed.
The ACC is adaptive cruise control that you can use to set a distance between you and the car in front in cruise mode.
Speaking of safety, it has airbags for the driver and front seat passenger and their knees and side and curtain shield airbags all round. And the Brembo disc brakes are nothing short of incredible.
Providing the soundtrack is a Mark Levinson stereo with six-stack CD/DVD changer feeding into 13 speakers.
The IS F is like riding a thoroughbred compared with the Lexus IS350 F Sport, which is as nimble as a polo pony. No surprise but the IS F is the thirstiest of this body range. The car told me I averaged 13.8l/100km in city driving.
Oh, and I suggest you have a special bank account for tyres – a new set of Bridgestone Potenzas will cost $3000 and I guarantee it won’t take long before they need renewing.
The Lexus IS F, priced from $135,800, is quite simply a savage beast on a thin leash. Let it loose at your peril.