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Roadshow Video Reviews
2009 Lexus IS FCan the 2009 Lexus IS F compete with the likes of AMG and BMW's M-series? Brian Cooley takes it for a test drive and finds out.
>> Brian Cooley: There's a little more company in the rarefied world of AMG and M Cars. Make room for Lexus first production monster car: the ISF. ^M00:00:11 [ Music ] ^M00:00:18 Now one of the big stars of this car lives in this neighborhood: the dual overhead cam, 5 liter V8. First of all look at these big modules that I believe is part of the complex valve timing that is adjustable for both intake and exhaust valves. Similarly, dual is the intake setup on the plenum here. Down in there is an intake that has different paths for low and medium RPM and for high RPM. And yet with all this brawn, we're doing pretty good on the economy: 4.6 seconds for 0 to 60, but you're still getting 16 City, 23 Highway rated. Now even though RISF is loaded with all the latest cabin tech, if you're looking for this car to break new ground in that area, keep looking. No hard drive, no HD radio: it's feeling a little long in the tooth in a really excellent way. Our map and menu and general visual interface remains one of the best in the business. I love the quality of the look of the Lexus screen. The base audio rig in this car is called Lexus Premium Sound: 13 speakers, in dash 6 disk CD changer. It would have an aux jack and I say would because we have the Levinson Navigation package. More speakers and surround sound ability. Plus this system is CD and DVD compatible. They also roll up the Bluetooth hands free communication and the backup camera when you put this guy in reverse. Now check this out. Even with the Levinson system, you still don't have iPod or XM. Those are a la carte, separate, dealer installed options. But even worse you can not have an iPod adapter and XM radio. Also, our car has the PCSACC option. You know what that is? Of course you don't. A pre-collision system and adaptive cruise control. So the pre-collision of course is what's going to tighten things up, pre-brake, pre-arm the bags and the belts if you're about to hit something. And of course adaptive cruise so you can set a distance in cruise control and the car will maintain that depending on what's ahead of you and your maximum speed set. Now all that gobs of power goes out through a one choice only, 8 speed automatic. Here's the stick: a pretty traditional gate. And then you come on over to the left to manually influence over here on the stick or go for the very best steering wheel mounted paddles I think I've used yet. They're really stiff and firm and crisp. And tying all that power train together is something that they call VDIM: vehicle dynamic integrated management or some mumbo jumbo like that. It takes every system in the car and ties it together. It has 3 levels: there's normal, there's sport and there's off. In the normal mode this button's going to basically baby you. In the sport mode, they say it backs off a little and it's going to catch you when you're closer to the precipice of really making a nervous wreck out of your insurance agent. And in the off mode, well you know what that means: all bets are off. Oh by the way, when you buy your ISF set up a special account for tires. You're going to need the money because these butterballs are going to wear out like that. There's a sticker on the window that guarantees it. ^M00:03:14 [ Music ] ^M00:03:20 Now we'd sure like to see a manual gearbox offered, but at least this automatic can be both civilized and savage by turns. The transmission programming handles throttle blips on downshift real nicely. And up shifts are what they should be: tight, fast and hard. Underway, you immediately realize this car is not a daily driver. The suspension is sprung hard and in about a mile of real world driving, you're already missing your other car. Yeah, I know the ISF is a specialty car, but the C63 and the M3 do about the same thing without making your backside regret it. The body styling is perhaps the most audacious in its class. If you could afford this car and are young enough to not look stupid driving it, my hat's off to you. Handling is of course amply sharp and able. You need to get on the track to come anywhere near utilizing all of it responsibly. The ISF bases a little under 57 grand. The Levinson Nav, Bluetooth, rear camera package adds almost 4 thousand more. Another 2850 gets you radar cruise and that pre-collision system, neither of which seem like a stylistic fit for a car like this.