First ride: Lexus IS-F

Professional racer Scott Pruett takes us for a hot lap in the new Lexus IS-F.

Lexus IS-F at SEMA 2007 Laura Burstein

Back at SEMA last week, Lexus brought along a handful of 2008 IS-Fs for driving at a proving ground course set up in the back parking lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Scott Pruett takes us for a lap
While some folks waited in line to drive the course themselves, we opted to hop in the passenger seat with Scott Pruett, who has driven in Champ Car, IMSA, Grand-Am, and NASCAR.

Lexus' latest performance sedan, which was unveiled at the beginning of the year in Detroit, is souped up with a 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque. Standard features include Brembo brakes, 19-inch wheels, and an 8-speed direct shift transmission. Lexus claims it has a zero-to-60 time of 4.6 seconds.

Our course involved a long straight with a braking zone at the end, followed by a right turn (insert joke here about right turns and NASCAR). In the middle was a donut course, where Scott first spun us around with traction control off, then turned it on to illustrate how the car fights against the spin.

The IS-F's quad exhaust

We liked the way the car felt, despite the fact that our ride didn't last long. We must admit, we weren't particularly awed by the IS-F's performance over the IS 350. The general consensus among those of us who got a chance to take the car out was that the brakes really stole the IS-F's thunder. The car might be worth the extra cash if you dig the beauty kit (including the quad exhaust, which drew mixed reviews amongst onlookers) and, of course, want to stop fast.

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