Track Tested: 2011 Lexus IS F


2012 Lexus ISF

In our first test of the 2008 Lexus IS F, we sent a warning to future IS F drivers. "While the kind of on-track schooling the IS F has received is generally a good performance-tuning practice that tends to breed more performance-capable vehicles, it doesn't always make for a livable car. The IS F short-travel suspension rides taut and firm like a racecar's — all the time. Without driver-adjustable suspension, freeway overpasses that are usually registered by the seat of your pants as a gentle, rolling hop become spine-compressing jolts."

And we weren't the only ones with the same complaint. Lexus is serious about the IS F, though, and took the comments to heart, revising the suspension for 2011. The 2011 Lexus IS F also benefits from retuned electric power steering that, during our test of the '08, we said was "artificially heavy" and "cannot communicate as much information about the contact patches of the front tires as other sport sedans we've driven." These enhancements come on top of the 2010 model, which got a Torsen-type limited-slip rear diff as opposed to the brake-activated simulated limited slip in the '08.

So we've got a new, more tolerable suspension, a real limited-slip and retuned power steering. But is it still as fast?

Vehicle: 2011 Lexus IS F
Odometer: 9,615
Date: 8-30-2011
Driver: Chris Walton

Price as tested: $64,447

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated, 5.0-liter V8
Redline (rpm): 6,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 416 @ 6,600
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 371 @ 5,200
Brake Type (front): 14.2-inch vented discs with six-piston Brembo-for-Lexus fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.6-inch vented discs with two-piston fixed calipers
Suspension Type (front): Double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 225/40R19 (93Y)
Tire Size (rear): 255/35R19 (96Y)
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Potenza RE050A
Tire Type: Summer Performance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,812

Test Results:

Acceleration
0-30 (sec): 2.0 (2.0 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.3 (3.3 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 4.7 (4.8 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.5 (4.6 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 6.7 (6.8 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 12.9 @ 110.3 (13.0 @ 110.1)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 28
60-0 (ft): 112

Handling
Slalom (mph): 69.7 (66.7 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.90 (0.90 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 52.2
Db @ Full Throttle: 82.5
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 69.0

Acceleration:Within each of the three distinct modes (Drive, Drive + Sport, and F), runs are shockingly repeatable. The best run was in F manual (thanks to shift light/tone) where upshifts are blazingly quick and revs fall right back down to the engine's sweet spot. Gawd does this car sound nice at full sail. Best launches were with minimal spin, which the traction control system was also able to provide.

Braking: Very firm pedal, but also highly communicative. Firm suspension caused some irregularity in stopping distances due to mid-stop unweighting/settling, but otherwise excellent brakes.

Handling:

Skid pad: Virtually no interference from ESC on the skid pad, where I could keep a pretty generous amount of rear slip going all the way around and steer with the throttle. Steering weight feels appropriate, but there's not a lot of info coming through the wheel.

Slalom: I'm not a fan of RE050A tires because after three to four passes, they lose their bite (as if I've knocked the edges of all the tread blocks). As a result, turn-in diminishes, bite goes away, and even feel, too. I had to resort to pretty aggressive throttle manipulation to get the car to rotate/point where I wanted. Luckily, throttle response and weight transfer are excellent.

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