- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 12 May 2011 14:09, Updated 23 November 2011 11:40
The Lexus IS350 F Sport has shopping bag hooks in the boot.
Is this a bit politically correct for a car that has pretensions of being a hairy chested teenage cro-magnon?
Perhaps not. Just think that they are useful for bringing home the bags of nails and screws for the barbecue area you’re building in the backyard.
They keep the contents from spilling across the boot in case you get enthusiastic with the steering wheel – and there’s a fair chance of that.
The 3.5 litre V6 IS350 F Sport is a five-seat, mid-size luxury car that wants to be driven with enthusiasm. The steering is tight and responsive, the power comes on smoothly and quickly and it clips around corners.
This is a new car for 2011 and sits between the IS350 and the thumping 5 litre V8 Lexus F. It has more aggressive exterior styling, a sporty interior and a more tuned suspension for sharper driving response.
In this version, the leather seats with grey contrasting stitching are firm and the twin buckets in the front have bulges in the sides at chest height that hold you in around the corners.
The centre console is high and the leather, three-spoke steering wheel moves out of the way when you stop the engine and drops into position when you start, giving the overall feeling of a pseudo race car.
Adding to that feel are the aluminium-faced foot pedals. The sporty feel is a very deliberate attempt to attract the male of the species.
Toyota’s luxury brand has developed a significant and loyal following in its 20 years – Lexus says its sales have grown 254 per cent since 2001 – because of what you get for your money.
The standard equipment in this car includes a touch-screen console with satellite navigation, bluetooth hands-free phone controls, DVD and six-stack CD player, cruise control and dual zone air-conditioning.
There are also xenon headlights for daytime visibility, a reversing camera and an electric sun roof (the only optional extra). The camera is essential because with the added spoiler on the boot, it’s nearly impossible to see anything shorter than a racehorse behind.
While legroom in the back seat is tight, the boot has a reasonable 378 litres but it’s still not what you would call a roomy vehicle.
The F Sport gets stiffer suspension than the base model, spoilers, the sports seats, lower profile tyres and a premium 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
The suspension guarantees that at lower speeds you feel all of the road but it generally comes without the noise. It’s very quiet inside and out but the 233kW (306hp) of grunt and the price are the most attractive features of the car.
Oh, and for the rev heads, Toyota says it gets to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds. I can’t attest to that but I can say it caused more than one sharp intake of breath on my journeys.
At $78,443, the F Sports offers more fun bits than European cars in the same bracket and with 52 per cent more power than the IS250, it’s a sizzling drive. But save your blood pressure by not checking out the price in the US.
The vehicle stability control, which is meant to prevent the vehicle slipping on wet roads, and the traction control, which is mean to stop wheel spin, can be turned off with the press of a button. I recommend doing that, except in intense weather conditions. It becomes a far better car to drive.
The six-speed gearbox is smooth and generally gets it right but you can override the automatic with paddles on the steering wheel. It also means you can do your own gear changes, again increasing the fun factor.
The fuel consumption function on the dashboard display was telling me I was getting an average of 12l/100km, although Toyota rates it at 9.4l/100km.
There’s no timber inside, it’s all black plastic and leather, which can diminish the feeling of luxury if your ego hangs on a bit of woodgrain.
It’s just the thing for a (very) rapid trip to the hardware store.