2022 Lexus IS 500 kicks off new F Sport Performance line with V8 power
It seems the rumors of the Lexus V8's death have been at least slightly exaggerated.
Antuan GoodwinReviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
ExpertiseReviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainmentCredentials
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There's been a V8-shaped hole at the heart of the Lexus IS lineup ever since the performance oriented IS F was discontinued back in 2014. The newly unveiled 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance sedan may not be a full-fat, F model like the RC F coupe, but the 5.0-liter block under its hood should, at the very least, help scratch that V8 itch.
The new model will be the first of a budding F Sport Performance tier -- a slightly spicier performance gradient between the mild (and usually style-oriented) F Sport trims and red-hot F performance models -- teased recently by the automaker. The three-tiered system should be similar to BMW's M Sport, M Performance and M series stratification, and potentially just as confusing.
Exclusive to the North American market, the IS 500 F Sport Performance differentiates itself from the 300 and 350 trims with an upgrade to Lexus' 5.0-liter V8 engine. Putting out 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque, this appears to be the same 5.0L 2UR-GSE motor that you'll find powering the RC F and LC 500 coupes. Fun fact: This is essentially an updated, higher-compression and higher-output version of the same plant that powered the old 416 horsepower IS F from 2007 to 2014.
The motor is mated to the rear wheels via a familiar eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission and exhales through a quad-tip sport exhaust system. In its sharpest Sport Plus setting, the sedan is expected to zip from zero-to-sixty miles per hour in about 4.5 seconds. When you're not hammering it, it should reach around 24 highway mpg, according to Toyota's internal estimates.
2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance packs V8 power
Visual changes include a more pronounced hood bulge, which has been raised by two inches to fit the larger V8. The sedan's front bumper and fenders have also been massaged to make room for more motor. Out back, a black F Sport spoiler has been fitted to the decklid and the rear diffuser has been revised to accommodate and accentuate the quad-exhaust. This F Sport Performance model, and those that will eventually follow, also features dark chrome trim and Black F Sport Performance badging, inside and out.
Agility upgrades include a Dynamic Handling Package, which is standard equipment at this spec, adding a Torsen limited-slip differential and Lexus' Adaptive Variable Suspension to the IS 500's bag of tricks. Further augmenting the suspension is an additional Yamaha rear performance chassis damper -- a feature Lexus also uses on the LC 500 Coupe and Convertible -- which the automaker claims boosts comfort, stability and responsiveness. Tucked into the arches are 19-inch Enkei wheels, each a pound or two lighter than the standard 19-inch staggered F Sport wheels. Larger 14-inch, two-piece aluminum brakes peek between the spokes of the front wheels. The rear stoppers have also been enlarged to 12.7-inches.
Rumors began swirling late last year that Lexus was killing off its V8 cars, with the full-size LS flagship dropping its V8 back in 2017, the cancellation of the GS and its V8-powered GS F variant last year, and reports of the upcoming LC F's development being suspended seeming to corroborate the claims. Yet, here Lexus is launching a V8 sport sedan in 2021. No, it's not a new V8 and, though recently facelifted, this IS platform is more than seven years old, but even a good, old V8 is better than no V8 at all. And Lexus' naturally aspirated 5.0-liter is sure to be as reliable and smooth as it is thrilling.
The remixed 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance sedan will join the recently refreshed IS 300 turbo four-banger and V6-powered IS 300 AWD and IS 350, rolling out with the same facelifted interior and exterior design, the updated Lexus Safety System Plus 2.5 driver aid tech and new infotainment upgrades. Pricing for the new spec, unique color choices and specific fuel economy estimates are expected to be announced closer to the 500's launch later this fall.