What is it?
The 2010-model Lexus IS-F. Besides upping the price on the car and throwing some extra no-cost options at it, Lexus has made one significant change to this car’s mechanical make-up. And neatly enough, it was a change that we asked them to make.
Autocar’s 2008 road test on the Lexus IS-F contained the following sentence: “Better suspension control and a limited-slip differential would revolutionise what’s already a very entertaining car.” Congratulations to Lexus, then, for introducing a 2010-model year IS-F fitted as standard with a mechanical limited-slip differential.
Otherwise the IS-F’s got the same 417bhp 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8, the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and, rather regrettably as we’ll go on to explain, the same chassis settings.
What’s it like?
Better, if still some distance from being a class-leading car.
If nothing else, that LSD should make the IS-F a more common sight at track days. Without a proper slippy diff, the old car could be a bit erratic on a circuit. Exiting slower corners it would often spin away its 400-odd horsepower via an inside wheel. Going faster, at the limit of grip, it also had the capacity to be a bit, well, unpredictable.
Owners of the revised car won’t experience the same problems; you don’t even have to go on track to tell. Venture out of a quiet T-junction with enough gusto and you’ll feel the benefit of the improved traction that the LSD generates. The car’s stability control system allows a little throttle steer for those who want it, and if you knock the automatic gearbox into manual mode, you’ll also get full transmission lock-up and full control over when that eight-speed ‘box swaps ratios.
It’s a shame, however, that Lexus didn’t do something about the IS-F’s damping while it was in the mood for improvement, because this chassis still lacks control and subtlety. It’s fine during normal, day-to-day use, if a little restless. During faster driving, though, it’s still short on bump absorption and composure, and doesn’t fill you with confidence in the consistency of its connection to the road.