The standard Lexus IS saloon offers excellent body control even without sport suspension and well-weighted, precise and direct steering. Blank out the limitations of the engine and transmission and there’s genuine fun to be had. The ride quality is fairly decent but is unsettled over more broken surfaces at lower speeds.
Find a series of bends with a sufficiently long preceding straight and the IS250C convertible reveals a competent but remote feeling chassis. Despite the soft set-up, it grips well and keeps body movements in check, but there is very little enthusiasm or satisfaction on offer.
The F rides just like a regular IS. It feels quite softly sprung but not softly damped. There’s a certain harshness and patter that, much like in the standard car, causes its ride to feel unsettled at any speed, except on the smoothest of asphalt.
So on a demanding road, the IS-F is slightly compromised. It is refined but does not quite control its body movements well enough. If it’s just the poise you’re after, the M3 and C63 deliver more here. The IS-F’s overall chassis balance is very good, however. On smooth asphalt or a race track, it is enjoyable and extremely exploitable. It turns in crisply, and although the steering is not overly engaging, it is accurate and direct.
The IS-F’s brakes are excellent. Their feel and progression are good and they have no problem routinely stopping this 1720kg car on a circuit.