Daily Slideshow: A True Grand Tour: Project FujiSpeed Lexus IS F
This is how you cross state lines in Japanese GT flair.
An Unlikely GT
When you think of GT cars or Grand Touring cars, you think of classy yet aggressively styled coupes made by top-rated luxury/high-performance European or American car brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Jaguar; cars like the Bentley Continental GT, the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, and the Ford Mustang GT. Maybe it is because GT cars originated in Europe. However, according to Keith Charvonia of Speedhunters, the little-known Lexus IS F also deserves to be named amongst such cars. Keith emphasizes that the Lexus IS F offers more GT-car-worthy attributes than most people realize.
By definition, a “GT”, “grand touring” or “Gran Turismo” car is a performance car that is well-suited for long distance driving. The word “grand” denotes the car’s ability to offer such long distance drives in luxurious comfort and style. Going by this definition, the Lexus IS F qualifies as a GT. Keith took a chance on his Lexus IS F dubbed the ‘Project Fujispeed’ when going for a 2,550-mile road trip over the entire length of California with his family, and it paid off big time. He thoroughly enjoyed driving the Lexus IS F for many hours at a time for several days with his entire family. This says a lot about this car.
Power and Torque
One of the things that make GT cars great for long distance drives is ample power and torque. It makes long trips quicker and more rewarding. Without a doubt, Keith’s Lexus IS F delivered the goods in this area. It is equipped with a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine that serves up 416 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 371 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,200 rpm. The IS F is rear-wheel-drive, so Keith got to feel all this torque shove him and his passengers forward as he stepped on the gas pedal when launching from a stop. This torque also came in handy when he was making passing maneuvers or when he was climbing steep hills; it’s almost instantly available with this car. After the torque gave the car that initial shove forward, the 416 horses propelled the car to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and to a ¼ mile in 13 seconds. Needless to say, Keith made quick work of the several sections of the trip and enjoyed every minute of it.
Another thing that made the Lexus IS F great for the long road trip was its superb ride quality and its precision handling. Lexus vehicles have always had ride quality down to a tee. The folks at Lexus used a performance-tuned version of the proven, smooth-riding Lexus IS suspension that is comprised of a double wishbone front suspension with high-mount upper arms and a multilink rear suspension with low-mount upper arms. Monotube gas-filled shock absorbers are featured in both the front and the rear.
The Lexus IS F also handles like a pro. Because of the fact that its engine is positioned in the front and its drivetrain components are in the rear, its weight is well distributed. This makes for a super-stable ride. In addition, Keith had taken the initiative of modifying his Lexus IS F’s suspension system with high-rate KW V3 coilover springs both in the front and the rear to further sharpen the car’s handling. These spring modifications paid dividends when Keith was driving through the winding roads of Humboldt County’s redwood forests. They made the suspension feel sufficiently firm and responsive, but not harsh. With these KW V3 springs, Keith was able to adjust the ride height of the car, which was a big plus. The lower ground clearance helped to lower the center of gravity and further enhance the car’s traction and stability.
In terms of steering, the Lexus IS F features a sport-tuned electric power steering system that responds sharply to every steering effort. It varies the steering input that it delivers at different speeds to ensure that you feel in control of the car at all times. At lower speed, there is more steering input to enhance maneuverability, while at higher speeds there is less steering input for a more controlled drive.
Room for Passengers and Cargo
Keith’s Lexus IS F also aced the GT car test in the area of interior space. It offered enough seating space for him, his wife, and his two kids. If the car’s interior was cramped, he probably would not have been able to complete the trip because it would have meant extreme fatigue on his part as well as the discomfort of his family. In the front, the Lexus IS F offers up to 39 inches of headroom and 43.9 inches of legroom, so Keith and his wife had room to stretch their legs when they needed to. His car also offered enough trunk space for 10 days worth of luggage and supplies for a family of four; that’s no mean feat.
Creature comforts may not seem that important when you are making short trips to work or doing errands in the city, but when you have to drive for hours on end from one state to another, you soon realize how important it is to have electric seats that can be easily adjusted while you are cruising at high speeds. Keith’s Lexus IS F features leather-appointed 10-way power-adjustable front sport seats with side bolsters that hold the body in place when the road gets twisty. These seats also feature heating functions and power lumbar support. The Lexus IS F also features an automatic climate control system that conditions the air in the cabin and regulates cabin temperatures. This system made it possible for Keith and his family to keep the windows closed for most of the journey. Another feature of this car that probably came in handy for Keith on those long stretches of highway is cruise control.
To keep your Lexus on the road and running right check out the How-to section of ClubLexus.