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March 22, 2013

Lexus IS F: Big ride, big price

Much of what this car will do is illegal on most roadways in the U.S. but it certainly is exhilarating getting up to speed. The newest iteration of the Lexus IS F is flashy, fast and furious.

This high performance sedan runs in the fast lane with the likes of Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and BMW M3 and, depending on driving manners, will achieve the highest fuel economy of the trio.

Its eight-speed transmission, nearly twice the number of gears in most cars, seamlessly shifts up or down in less than one-tenth of a second. Manual paddle shifters are mounted behind the steering wheel for the sportier driver. There is no manual transmission in the Lexus lineup.

The Lexus F series has just two high performance models, the IS F and the outlandish and sleek LFA with 552 horsepower and a starting price of $375,000.

Do not get the idea the smaller version is not up to speed, so to speak. The IS will throw you back in your seat on its climb from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 4.3 seconds. For the price difference, you get a one of a kind futuristic skin on the LFA and a powerplant that will catapult to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. 

One of the thrills of spending time with the IS F is exploring its driving dynamics, starting with selecting gear modes between Normal, Snow and Sport. Normal is the default setting. Besides using the ‘snow’ during well, snow, it is particularly useful when you want to optimize fuel consumption and muffle a throaty exhaust.

Sport mode is for those times when you want to justify paying 60 large plus for an all-out performance car. Hit the start button and the V8 engine roars to life with a not-so-muffled rumble at idle. It gets louder and meaner with acceleration.

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