If there’s one area of this car where Lexus has absolutely nailed what a super-saloon should be, it’s under the IS-F’s borderline-ludicrous bonnet bulge. The 5.0-litre V8 at the heart of this car is peachy and, tweaked for performance and freed from the refinement and economy shackles of its hybrid applications, is far and away the most engaging motor Lexus produces.
The good signs start as early as idle. The IS-F emits a powerful woofle on start-up, although it’s muted enough to suggest Lexus has not entirely neglected its reputation as a maker of exceptionally refined cars.
So it proves during everyday driving. Around town or at a cruise, the IS-F’s V8 is never intrusive. The eight-speed automatic gearbox makes its shifts smoothly, too, although it is inclined to make rather too many as it seeks to engage the highest gear it can – which means it can return over 20mpg on a cruise.
There is, however, a darker and more enjoyable side to this engine. Extend your right leg fully and you’ll get an idea of how busy Lexus’s sound engineers have been.
Above 3500rpm there’s a real hardening of the engine’s note (a secondary intake opens at 3600rpm) and it swaps its refined woofle for a proper, throaty V8 noise; it’s less aggressive than AMG’s 6.2-litre unit and more contrived than the M3’s engine note, but is a fine noise nonetheless.
The delivery itself is relatively peaky. Maximum power arrives at 6600rpm, passing the torque peak at 5200rpm, and with a 7000rpm red line this is a high-revving engine.
At MIRA’s test track the IS-F couldn’t quite match Lexus’s acceleration claims, although 5.2sec to 60mph and 12.3sec to 100mph are very respectable figures, given the ambient conditions.
But for all its revving, the IS-F’s powerband is not narrow enough to justify eight forward ratios. Six would be sufficient, seven would be ample. Eight means that, left to its own devices, you’re aware that the ’box is making too many shifts. Mostly these are clean, with a blip on downshifts when you’re pressing on, but there’s sometimes a little snatchiness.