ON THE FAST TRACK
2012 Lexus IS 350 F Sport a hot little sedan for those who like the look of success and the feel of performance
By Bruce W. Smith
Young professional or seasoned executive, newly married or empty nester, young or young at heart, if you are a serious car lover and have an affection for automobiles that have the muscle to go with killer styling, the Lexus IS 350 F Sport will not disappoint.
When you slide behind the wheel Lexus’ compact sedan flagship, optioned with the F Sport performance package, you start looking for any excuse to roll hard into the 306hp 3.5L V6’s throttle so you can enjoy the rush.
I found that out after spending a week enjoying everything the rear-wheel-drive version of the new sport sedan had to offer while taking in the beauty of Oregon’s coast and mountains.
Twisting coastline roads or open interstates, the Ultrasonic Blue IS 350 I was piloting (MSRP $45,184) brought countless smiles from the way it put the power down with go-cart control all the while delivering fuel economy in the mid-20s. The ride is firm, but not harsh, with very little road noise.
The F Sport package ($2,440) takes inspiration from the IS F ultra-performance sedan, combines a special sport suspension, disc brakes and steering tuning, spoilers front and rear, and dark super-chrome 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 255/40-series tires give it a wicked look to go with the power.
The F Sport looks and feels every bit a high-performance sedan.
Inside, special F Sport heated front seats feature a special microfiber insert and leather side bolsters to provide more grip for the driver and passenger during cornering. The package also adds F Sport badging to the steering wheel, shift knob and doorsill scuff plates.
The version I drove also oozed with luxury appointments including the optional Navigation system/ Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package ($3,900) – the latter a 300-watt, 14-speaker sound system that is second to none.
The IS 350’s 3.5-liter V6 delivers a potent 306hp at 6,400 RPM and 277 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. It pulls remarkable strong from around 2,500rpm all the way to redline – and the six-speed automatic is perfectly tuned to keep the engine in the heart of its powerband all the way to 140mph.
Lexus says the IS 350 RWD model can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. But the best I could manage was 6 flat running regular unleaded.
Lexus’ 3.5L V6 augments the Variable Valve Timing (VVT) technology with direct-fuel-injection with port fuel injectors.
In light- and medium-load conditions, these additional injectors help produce a precise burn, optimizing power and efficiency, which helps the sedan deliver fuel economy in the mid-20s when cruising. (EPA numbers, 27mpg city, 19mpg hwy, combined 22mpg.)
Of course, the IS 350 F Sport is equipped with a wide array of state-of-the-art safety features that include everything from traction and stability control to the latest in drive and passenger protection on every front.
In fact, the IS 350 F Sport is better equipped and out performs the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350 Sport Sedan, which is one of its closest rivals.
Should you want to take the F Sport to another performance level, Lexus offers about $10,000 in factory high-performance upgrades for the really serious tuner including performance-enhancing parts such as 19-inch forged alloy wheels, brake upgrades, suspension systems, air intake, exhaust system and more.
(F Sport Performance Accessories by Lexus U.S.A. are engineered by Toyota Racing Development (TRD). When installed by an authorized dealer, the accessories are covered by warranty for 12 months or for the balance of the new car warranty, whichever is greater.)
All new Lexus vehicles come with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48-months/unlimited miles. Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage.