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2009 Lexus IS-F Review & Road Test

June 23, 2009 by Karl Peskett

Karl is an idiot. We spent an entire month travelling across Europe together on the Full Throttle trip, arguing over the IS-F versus the BMW M3, so much so that we decided to write two reviews just so we could argue with each other publicly.
Here is the thing with the IS-F, it’s so far my favourite car under $150,000 for 2009. There are a lot of mixed reviews about Lexus’ first attempt at the luxury performance market. Most like the car but consistently say that the BMW M3 is the better choice and you know what, I agree, but I’d still buy the Lexus, so let me tell you why.

Monday morning, I still hadn’t got out of bed and Anthony called me up all excited. Normally this doesn’t faze me because Anthony is generally always excited about something, either it’s about some completely random and stupidly fast car he has booked for us in Europe or it’s something as simple as having just beaten a GSXR-1000 in a diesel Peugeot around some bends. Either way, he has to tell us all, at 8am in the morning.
“Aston Martin is giving us the first Australian drive of the DBS auto in Brisbane” – okay, so now I was excited too. Not often I get a supercar car up my way.

“We’ve got the car for three days, but we need a fast chase car to head up the sunshine coast with, what have you got booked that week?” I looked at my calendar and the words biopower SAAB 9-3 convertible stood out like a sore thumb.

“@#$^ that, we need something really quick,” Anthony said.

A few emails to Lexus and they kindly gave me the IS-F for two weeks. I’ll admit, I wanted the M3 originally, but that was unavailable and up until the point where I stepped on the throttle in the IS-F, I still wanted the M3.
Before you rush to the comments section and argue for the BMW, let me explain a few things about Lexus.

The Toyota jokes are really starting to wear thin, I spent two weeks with the IS-F and it took all those two weeks to get to fall in love with the car, had I spent one week with it, I would probably be writing a different review.
I can recall the moment that I realised the IS-F was a car worthy of its claims. It was raining rather heavily up through the Glasshouse Mountains and in front of me was former racing driver Kevin Bartlett in a Aston Martin DBS, my task? Keep up with him at full pace, ah I love my job!
I could see the back of the Aston sliding out slightly as he pushed harder and harder around the corners. I suppose seeing a blue Lexus consistently behind you must have been a rather annoying sight.
Our photographer, who was sitting next to me at the time, was starting to get worried as the battle up the mountain intensified. He had just bought a house and still intended to live at least another 60 years, so sitting next to a guy chasing a racing driver in a superior car up a mountain in the wet wasn’t his idea of a risk-free afternoon.
Needless to say, KB couldn’t lose me. We finally pulled over and he slowly climbed out of the Aston and looked over at the Lexus. He didn’t say much at first but finally he broke his silence: “that thing is pretty quick”.

I’d love to take all the credit here, after all mountain driving is my speciality, but it wasn’t me, all I was doing was following his line and the IS-F did the rest.

So there it was, a sub $150,000 car keeping up with James Bond’s car. Could the M3 do the same? Probably, so why buy the IS-F you ask?
Well, for once, I can say the Lexus is more unique. How many IS-Fs have you seen? Not many, and how many new M3s have you seen? It’s quicker from 0-100km/h than all its rivals and the sound, well, you just have to hear it.
I don’t know what I liked better, the V12 note from the Aston or the V8 in the Lexus, or both of them put together in a symphony.
After our mission with the Aston had finished, I still had the IS-F for another week and as the return date got closer I was starting to feel anxious about giving it back.
You can read the rest of the article in here and see all the pics:
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