M3 vs 2011 IS-F
Had a chance to test drive a 2011 IS-F tonight.
After having some seat time in an 08 IS-F, there are some significant improvements in the 2011!
Suspension has been revised, the bone jarring 08 suspension was rough on anything but uneven pavement reminding me of my 06 STi (a bit over exaggerated, but you get the picture). The new 2011 IS-F includes revised spring/shock dampening allowing for more forgiveness. I'd say its on par with my 08 M3 with no EDC.
The mechanical LSD, no comments here, street driving wouldn't produce the feedback needed to tell if it made a difference or not.
The led head lights, added a nice flare to the car, its difficult to capture the effect it gives the front end via camera. Its a nice change to the lineup and is not overpowering as in some of the pictures.
The rear seats are slightly cramped compared to an e90 m3. I adjusted the front seats to where I'd be comfortable in the front, then had some time in the back to see what the complaints were about. I'm 5'9, I had about 3" head clearance and about 2" knee clearance with enough room to sit comfortably (feet under the seat). Not the ideal positioning, but could definitely maintain a long distance drive comfortably. Note the car is 4 passenger only, and would comfortably fit 4 adults under 6'1.
The engine is a true sleeper, under 4000 rpm, you couldn't tell its a v8. The dual stage intake opens up above 4000 rpm giving a loud growl all the way to red line. Lexus has included new led shift lights instead of the annoying beep in the pre 10 vehicles. Straight line speed it feels just as quick as my m3. The 8 speed transmission has quick upshifts in sport mode, and nice rev blip downshifts, similar to the C63 AMG I drove 2 weeks. Id say the transmission is on par with the c63 amg characteristics.
Using the back road course, there were some twists in the road, pushing it as much as I felt comfortable, it felt like the M3 - 1 point. It was not confidence inspiring. It could be due to the fact I was not used to the vehicle nor confident to push out of test drive boundaries.
If I had to rate it, its a great 8.5/10 if I was to give the m3 9/10.
From the research I've done, the IS-F does not seem prone to engine/transmission issues and most owners have a strong belief the vehicle will last over 200k on the clock. Other than general maintenance, they seem to be built rock solid. Lexus has narrowed the gap from 08 to 11 to be comparable to the M3.
Thoughts from others who have had some seat time in the new IS-F's?