"F" Marks The Lexus Spot!

 
 
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January 8, 2007 - Detroit, MI - Over the years, Lexus has relentlessly and passionately been at work pursuing perfection. It all started with the first flagship vehicle internally known as Circle F, then evolved to Flagship One or F1, which we all have grown to admire as the LS. Now, the gears have shifted into a new direction and the ball is definitely in the Lexus court. Detroit’s Cobo Center was the place which the Lexus brand was unveiled to the world during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).  Eighteen years later, on January 8, 2007, Lexus brought their cards to the table and unveiled their newest artillery in the “ Motor City” to the automotive world.  

The “F” Status  

The Europeans have always been known for their factory tuned performance line. Over the years, our Lexus enthusiast crowd has always envied and appreciated the European competition with their “M” & “AMG” performance lines. Now Lexus has turned our dreams of a performance line into a reality. Their interpretation of the upper echelon factory tuned performance is the “F” marque of vehicles. Now what the “F” does that stand for? We all can come to our own conclusions, but terms like but not limited to “Flagship”, “Fast”, “Fabulous”, “Fantastic”, “Flying” and “First Class” come to mind. The first of the Lexus “F” marque are represented by two vehicles from each end of the spectrum. One a luxury exotic performance car known as the LF-A and the other a high performance luxury sport sedan called the IS-F.


The Experience

On Monday morning, the day of the press release, we were invited by Brian Bolain of Lexus Marketing to get a behind the scenes peek of the LF-A & IS-F pre-press release run through. Upon entry of the darkened Riverview Ballroom, we first hear a distinct sound of an engine being revved up several times coming from behind the black curtains. At the same time, the stage crew perfected the volume for the music and lighting for the cars. The stage crew cued the faux wall covering the LF-A v.2. Bob Carter greeted us and walked us over to the new LF-A. No one outside of Lexus knew about the unveiling of a revised LF-A and we sure were shocked when we saw it for the first time. We knew about the LF-A being at the release prior to arriving in Detroit, but we did not know what was to come about. We chatted with Mr. Carter for a few minutes and then he had to get ready for the presentation. The stage was reset and we were given choice of seating anywhere in the room before the press was let inside the room. After choosing a spot left of center stage, the doors were opened, and the once empty room was filled with press from all over the world. The room quickly became standing room only as the credentialed press were the only ones allowed to sit down, everyone else had to stand. It is very interesting and enlightening to see the fast work of the stage crew and the execution of the presentation from start to finish. It is definitely a first class operation on its own.

During the press release, ooohs and ahhhs echoed the Riverview Ballroom at the Cobo Center during the unveiling of the LF-A and IS-F. The sound of camera shutters chattering and the strobe flash effects of the press cameras filled the room. Photographers and media from all over the world quickly jumped to the stage to take a closer look of the new Lexus goodies after the presentation ended. I followed shortly after the crowd slowly dispersed. Being the representative for the enthusiast group in the room full of credentialed press, I was given the opportunity to sit in the new IS-F while the press was only allowed to take photographs of the vehicle. Upon my entry to the car, I was told by one of the stage crew that I could not sit in the vehicle. Mr. Carter quickly turned around and said “No, it’s okay!” and they let me proceed. I breathed a sigh of relief as I was still in shock of witnessing a live Lexus press release and given the green light to absorb and observe the new IS-F’s interior. That was truly a memorable moment. After all the press left the room, we were given a special opportunity to record the V8 sound of the new IS-F. The driver started the car and the IS-F’s 5.0L V8 came to life.  He revved it a couple times for us to hear. A healthy and burly roar came of the 5.0L V8 via the quad exhaust tailpipes. It is hard to imagine that this idea of a V8 in an IS was just a dream not too long ago.


LF-A

The luxury exotic concept known as the LF-A was first introduced to us 2 years ago at the ’05 NAIAS. Knowing how important it is to make a statement in the automotive world, the engineers at Lexus unveiled a version two (v.2) of the LF-A. The new v.2 LF-A was massaged and re-sculpted with a sexier interpretation of the L-Finesse design language. More defined curves and lines accentuate the front fascia of the car. The sculpted lines of the car blend smoothly across the sides. The rear is defined with a wide beltline at the quarter panels. The signature tri-tip exhaust remains from the original concept vehicle. Headlight illumination is provided by high intensity multi-LED housings. With the newfound aerodynamics, the styled air scoops funnel air into the mid engine V10 which will deliver 500 plus horsepower to the wheels. The F1 racecar-like, high revving V10 will be able to effortlessly transport the LF-A into the 200 MPH realm, a definite first for Lexus. Stopping power is aided by large diameter cross drilled rotors and large caliper brakes. This luxury exotic performance car is currently a concept which is starting to look more like reality. As we hear and read stories of the LF-A in heavy camouflage testing in Germany and Japan, we can only wait for Lexus to deliver the goods. We know this is going to be a reality, but it is now just a matter of where and when the first production LF-A will be delivered.

The refreshed LF-A v.2 looks a lot better than the first interpretation. The first LF-A concept was bold and new but lacked a front fascia that translated into a recognized exotic. After going under the knife, the new and more appealing and rounded lines gives the car a lot more character. The rounded design almost gives a hint of the MKIV JZA80 Supra. From a side vantage point, the LF-A looks as if the nose points out more than the lower air dam section. Overall the styling has improved dramatically since the first version and we can only hope the LF-A’s styling will stay bold and exotic upon production.


What it IS


The IS has historically been the sport sedan for the enthusiast. Superb handling, clean cut styling and all around balanced performance were the key ingredients to a field dominated by the BMW 3 series. Many have complained that the first IS has been underpowered at the beginning. Lexus quickly remedied that by offering the 2nd generation IS with a very quick 306 HP IS350 recently. The performance of the IS350 has definitely been chart topping and record breaking from the start.

In the past, Lexus has teased us with a Rod Millen Motorsports (RMM) prepped V8 IS, where a 4.3L V8 was transplanted from a GS430 sedan sporting a 6 speed getrag manual transmission from the legendary MKIV JZA80 Supra was shoehorned into the 1st generation IS chassis. Not too long ago, which was exactly about this time last year, our friend Brad Nelson of Lexus Motorsports who was also in charge of the RMM IS430 project hinted at, “interesting things to come” after the Team Lexus prepped BASF Carizzma Blue Pearl IS350 was displayed at last years ‘06 NAIAS in Detroit. The Lexus accessory HKS Exhaust & ground effects kit, large big brakes, a custom suspension that gave a nice low aggressive stance, 19” BBS wheels and a custom interior was a package that made everyone stand back in awe. Then in 2006, the Lexus Daytona Prototype race program switched from the workhorse 3UZ-FE 4.3L V8 to the all new 5.0L V8 which is a larger displacement version of the 1UR-FSE 4.6L V8 in the all new LS460. That was another indicator that kept us thinking of what was to come in the future.
Many questions that have constantly come about were, “Why doesn’t Lexus offer this from the factory?” and “Why can’t we have a real performance line instead of the now defunct and weak L-Tuned line?” Knowing that the Lexus slogan is “The Passionate Pursuit of Perfection”, which world class luxury vehicles are offered to the masses, the enthusiasts felt as if their needs were not satisfied and would have to resort to the European marques. The longing desire for a proprietary Lexus performance line has been a dream of many enthusiasts and car lovers for many years. The 2nd generation GS400 and the 1st generation IS was a great start, but it still wasn’t enough to satisfy as there was still something missing. Today, Lexus has ignited a new fire of enthusiasm with the “F” line. After the years of hoping and waiting, Lexus definitely was listening.  The wait is now over. The answer to the void is the 400+ HP 5.0L V8 powered IS-F.


IS-F

In the mind of the hungry car enthusiasts, more power in every aspect is better. Going along with the American idea, of “bigger is better”, like car enthusiasts, we are greedy, therefore we want more.  It is comforting to know we aren’t alone, and that there are also engineers who are also enthusiasts that live in the corporate halls of Lexus. As Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager, Bob Carter stated during his presentation at the press release of the IS-F, “They developed this vehicle while endorsing the “Lexus Musts”…Must be balanced. Must be authentic and most importantly, Must haul ass.” The new IS-F proves to the world that Lexus is fully capable to build a true performance product. This project was developed by a “Skunk Works” team of Lexus engineers that had a desire to build something special. We can thank Chief Engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi and his team for developing and making a long awaited dream come to a reality.

The new IS-F is definitely a vehicle of its own. Chief Engineer Yaguchi made that a point when designing the IS-F. It is not to be mistaken as an IS500 or even an IS250 or 350 for that matter. From an outside standpoint, the most obvious features that stand out are the new larger and muscular front fascia and large air dam. The new side vents aid the cooling power of the heat generated from the front of the vehicle. The trick vent integrates smoothly into a side skirt to create a seamless sweep to the rear. Those who have only seen this car in photos may think the larger front end and side vents look out of place. In a three dimensional point of view, the whole front end and sides actually compliment each other and make a lot of sense.

The heart of this beast is a 5.0L V8 which will yield more than 400 horsepower with more than 350 ft/lb. of torque and deliver a healthy sub 5 second 0-60 time. These are the best performance figures given of any Lexus vehicle in history. Derived from the 1UR-FSE 4.6L V8 from the all new LS460, this new 5.0L V8 will satisfy. The new IS-F breathes out of a free flowing quad exhaust system which gives a bone chilling and aggressive sound that enthusiasts have been craving for years. A new 8 speed direct paddle sport shift gear box will keep the new 5.0L V8 in its sweet spot. The new 8 speed transmission features ultra quick shifts and responsiveness via the manual mode. Downshifts and upshifts only take 1/10th of a second to engage. The advanced transmission also will blip the throttle upon downshifts so the engine RPM’s match the IS-F’s speed. This is something we’ve definitely been waiting for since the old E-Shift system of the previous IS. We have been told this transmission is one of the best if not the best that Lexus has ever offered in their vehicles. Although not a real sequential transmission, this new transmission should be good enough to rival the competition. We are a little disappointed that the IS-F does not come with a manual transmission variant and does not have a mechanical limited slip differential ( LSD) to evenly distribute the newfound 5.0L V8 power. Knowing that Lexus has spent countless hours engineering and developing the new 8 speed automatic transmission and reworking the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system into 3 stages of controls which include a normal, sport and a completely off mode. It’s not likely they will mess up a recipe for success. Since we are all used to the traditional features common in a high performance sports vehicle (i.e. manual transmission, LSD and etc.), we will reserve our judgment on the IS-F’s dynamics when we actually get a chance to sit behind the wheel and drive it. It should be an exciting experience regardless.

The IS-F sits on a tuned suspension that now finally has an aggressive stance that has almost NO fender gap, which is a definite thumbs up for the discriminating enthusiast. The stacked quad tips of the exhaust do look a little awkward for our tastes. We would have preferred a larger diameter dual tip or even a traditional horizontal quad tip exhaust. Being the hardcore enthusiasts, we love the feel and full control of a car. Kudos to Lexus for the large 14.2” front and 13.6” rear Brembo brake setup. An opposed aluminum six piston caliper front and two piston caliper rear are necessary to stop the flying IS-F.  The factory aluminum forged 19” made by BBS allows the IS to stay panted to the ground with sticky 255/35R19 tires in the rear and 225/40R19 tires in the front. This is definitely a stunning array of world renowned performance modifications for an otherwise factory tuned vehicle .

On the outside, the “F” badges signify the vehicle’s presence on the fenders and the rear. The inside is also unique to the “F” status, are the embroidered badges on the sides of the front and rear seats and on the steering wheel. We did not see any floor mats in the vehicle but we will assume the same embroidered “F” will make its way for all four foot wells. Blue stitching can be found throughout the seating surfaces including the steering wheel. There are two choices of interior leathers for the new IS-F. One is in the traditional black and the other is a two tone white & black to give a monochromatic look. The white interior may seem a bit much for the enthusiast, but it is definitely a new, out of the box interior color for Lexus. One may feel the white interior will be a lot harder to maintain. There was evidence of that in the IS-F as you can tell the person driving the vehicle was wearing blue jeans. A big noticable difference in the IS-F's interior is the black headliner. A lot of enthusiasts have mentioned the traditional light gray headliner threw off the rest of the interior especially with all black leather seating. It will definitely be a hit.

The 4 passenger seat setup is standard on the IS-F. Originally, the 4 passenger seat setup was only reserved for the Lexus SC and the latest LS460 with the Executive Seating Package. The front seats are different from the regular IS variant.  Larger side bolsters keep your legs and torso in place during quick maneuvering in the twisties. The familiar heated and ventilated seats are available with the perforated leather front seating surfaces. Special chrome shift paddles accent the leather wrapped “F” steering wheel which is also perforated. Available is a very clean weaved silver carbon fiber trim accents which are found in the center console and door switch plates.  It is definitely a new look for Lexus, but we hope there will be other interior accent choices offered. Perhaps a genuine brushed aluminum trim or a black wood option can be equipped. Special blue indicator needles sweep the faces of the new Optitron gauges which glow nicely to alert the driver. The usual Lexus luxury amenities are available on the IS-F including the 5th generation navigation and the signature Mark Levinson CD/DVD sound system. The IS-F’s interior is definitely comfortable and intuitive, which is of typical Lexus tradition.


Conclusion

We applaud Lexus for stepping up to the plate and going all out with a specialty line. This car definitely is a great example. Lexus is listening folks! The pursuit began eighteen years ago as “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection”. Now it has evolved into “The Pursuit of Perfection”. They now have produced a special line that worldwide Lexus enthusiasts can finally be proud of and call their own. It is almost safe to say Lexus is on the path of “The Pursuit of Performance”. We can only hope the “F” designation will carry to the other Lexus vehicles in the line up in the near future.  How awesome would that be when you can say, “Hey, I drive a Lexus GS-F or LS-F!”  At the same moment you quickly pass up the European competition in the lane right next to you. The LF-A and IS-F are definitely a step in the right direction.

On behalf of Club Lexus and the Lexus enthusiasts, I would like to personally thank Lexus Group Vice President & General Manager Bob Carter, Chief Engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi, Vice President of Lexus Marketing Deborah Wahl Meyer, Brian Bolain of Lexus Marketing and the rest of the generous and hospitable staff at Lexus. Thank you for the unforgettable experience and opportunity.

 

GALLERY OF PHOTOS:
IS-F & LF-A World Debut - Press Release 2007 NAIAS
 

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE IS-F REVVING:
IS-F Rev Final (YouTube.com)

 

PRELIMINARY SPECS - LEXUS IS-F (USE20):
(Courtesy of Lexus)


Powertrain

Engine: 5.0 Liter V8 (2UR-GSE)
Estimated Horsepower: More than 400
Estimated Torque: More than 350 lb.-ft.
Transmission: Eight-speed direct paddle sport shift gear box

Brakes
Large diameter cross-drilled discs
Front/Rear: 14.2 inches/13.6 inches

Opposed aluminum calipers
Front/Rear: Six piston/two piston

Wheels
Forged aluminum wheels
Front: 225/40R19 (19 x8)
Rear: 255/35R19 (19 x 9)

Performance
0-60 MPH Acceleration: Under 4.9 seconds
Fuel Economy: TBD
Emissions Rating: ULEV II
Dimensions (inches)
Overall Length: 183.5
Overall Width: 71.5
Overall Height: 55.5
Wheelbase: 107.5

 
More information:
Future Vehicles: 2008 Lexus IS-F


Article, Photos & Video By: Flipside909

Photos, Video & Article are property of Flipside909 & Club Lexus - A Lexus Owners Club © 2007

 

 
 
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