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      03-08-2008, 10:52 AM   #1
WCH
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Test drove an IS-F

I test drove an IS-F today. Silver with black interior. Price $61K + $2K in dealer installed stuff (Lojack, tire warranty, venture shield etc.). The test drive involved side streets, a divided highway and the highway. It was raining. If driven conservatively, it feels like an IS350 - very smooth and quiet. The ride is firm but not jarring. For my taste, it was too quiet until you got above about 3500 rpm - then it sounded better.

If you push it, the transmission is surprisingly quick and the paddles work well. Having 8 gears likely helps the gas mileage (no gas guzzler tax). Driving 80 mph, the engine turns over at just over 2000 rpm. The salesguy told me to push it when I entered the highway, and it was easy to get to 100 without even trying. Although I haven't yet had the chance to drive a M3, I'm guessing that the M-DCT will likely be even better. The key performance point for me was that compared to my E70 X5 4.8, the IS-F wasn't that much better. It was a bit quicker in going from 30-80 mph and above 3500 rpm sounded a bit better but the V8 in the X5 is no slouch even though it has to pull around > 5000 lbs. There's no doubt in my mind that the M3's V8 will be better in all regards even with less torque.

Although the IS-F looks much better in person than in pictures, I didn't like the aluminum accents or the hood. The stacked exhausts were not connected. There are four exhausts pipes out of the mufflers but they are not the ones that are visible from the back. I personally don't think this makes a difference as many more expensive cars have the same set-up but my overall impression was that I didn't really like the overall look including the F symbol.

Comparing feature to feature, the IS-F will come in less than a comparably equipped M3. For me, iDrive and Lexus implementation are a wash. iDrive is a bit slow but you get used to its logic quickly. The Lexus locks out most of the features while the car is moving so your passenger cannot control the Nav. However, the M3 will have things that the Lexus doesn't have such as M-drive and EDC. One weird thing is that my head kept hitting the roof. I'm 5'10" and the car had a sunroof, but I couldn't lower the seat enough to avoid this. This has never been a problem for me except in my brother's Lotus Elise.

All in all, the IS-F is a nice car. Even though I haven't yet driven an M3, the test drive convinced me that my ordered M3 is going to be the right car for me. I like the looks better and I'm sure that the performance will be better. It will cost me more (my M3 with M-DCT is coming in at $72K), but I think it will be worth it. I'm still hoping to test drive a M3 (my dealer hasn't received any cars yet) but I'm comfortable with my order and can't wait for the car to come in (May, fingers crossed).

Last edited by WCH; 03-08-2008 at 11:15 AM.
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      03-08-2008, 11:09 AM   #2
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Are you getting the M3 coupe or sedan? Either way, good luck and congrats. I'm surprised about your head hitting the roof, my friend is 6'3" and he has no problem with his IS350. Maybe the ISF has a lower roof? BTW, thanks for sharing your review.
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      03-08-2008, 11:12 AM   #3
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M3 coupe. Even though I don't like the M3 sedan tail lights, I would go with the M3 sedan over the IS-F. Although less practical, I just like the looks of the coupe better. Besides I have the X5 if I need to carry people or stuff.

I was surprised about the roof. Maybe I didn't adjust it enough?
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      03-08-2008, 12:41 PM   #4
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Thanks for the impressions. Yes, it is surprising that you couldn't fit into the car...
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      03-08-2008, 03:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCH View Post
M3 coupe. Even though I don't like the M3 sedan tail lights, I would go with the M3 sedan over the IS-F. Although less practical, I just like the looks of the coupe better. Besides I have the X5 if I need to carry people or stuff.

I was surprised about the roof. Maybe I didn't adjust it enough?
Yeah, the coupe's design is so much better. I really don't care for the e90's design. Again, good luck and congrats, great choice.
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      03-08-2008, 03:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCH View Post
The key performance point for me was that compared to my E70 X5 4.8, the IS-F wasn't that much better. .
Interesting.

I also happen to have X5 4.8i with sport package, and IS350. I am pretty sure that IS350 is faster than the X5. X5 is pretty fast for a SUV, but you can't really compare a SUV to a car.

But I agree with you on the V8 on the X5. It sounds pretty badass if you put the shifter at N, and revvv it! I do that to annoy others on the street.
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      03-08-2008, 03:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DC52E55 View Post
Interesting.

I also happen to have X5 4.8i with sport package, and IS350. I am pretty sure that IS350 is faster than the X5. X5 is pretty fast for a SUV, but you can't really compare a SUV to a car.

But I agree with you on the V8 on the X5. It sounds pretty badass if you put the shifter at N, and revvv it! I do that to annoy others on the street.
I agree that you can't compare the two. The thing that surprised me was that pushing the X5 in Sport mode (transmission not suspension) didn't feel too far off the IS-F. There's no doubt that the IS-F is faster and definitely lighter than the X5. Since the M3 V8 is going to much sportier (higher reving, different exhaust) than the X5, this makes me think that the M3 is going to be much more fun than the IS-F.

Since driving the IS-F, I got to sit in and start up the engine of a M3. The sound even at idle is much sportier than the IS-F. Since it is raining hard today, they didn't want me to take out the M3 so the test drive will have to wait. However, I'm very happy with my choice and look forward to getting my M-DCT coupe in a couple of months.
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      03-08-2008, 08:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCH View Post
I agree that you can't compare the two. The thing that surprised me was that pushing the X5 in Sport mode (transmission not suspension) didn't feel too far off the IS-F. There's no doubt that the IS-F is faster and definitely lighter than the X5. Since the M3 V8 is going to much sportier (higher reving, different exhaust) than the X5, this makes me think that the M3 is going to be much more fun than the IS-F.

Since driving the IS-F, I got to sit in and start up the engine of a M3. The sound even at idle is much sportier than the IS-F. Since it is raining hard today, they didn't want me to take out the M3 so the test drive will have to wait. However, I'm very happy with my choice and look forward to getting my M-DCT coupe in a couple of months.
I've read on another review that the ISF does'nt really come alive up until 3000rpm, it's the sacrifice for getting off the Gas Guzzler Tax. Which makes it very docile for normal driving as well.
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      03-12-2008, 04:16 AM   #9
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Thanks for the great review! The IS-F sounds like quite a performer.
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      03-14-2008, 01:37 PM   #10
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interesting review, the one thing I don't agree with is the comparison with your X5 and the ISF, I've driven both also and the ISF is quite a bit faster
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      03-14-2008, 08:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
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interesting review, the one thing I don't agree with is the comparison with your X5 and the ISF, I've driven both also and the ISF is quite a bit faster
I agree that the IS-F is faster. I just was surprised that it didn't feel that much faster than the X5. It's an admittedly subjective judgement. Anyways, I am driving an M3 tomorrow so I'll update with a better comparison (IS-F vs. M3).
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      03-16-2008, 02:44 AM   #12
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I just drove an ISF today, too. I did 0-100 getting on the highway. When you really get on it the V8 intake sounds BAD (as in really good). The suspension is a lot stiffer than my 335i sport. The funny thing is my 335i with piggyback ECU feels faster than the ISF. Part of this is because the salesman who went with me weighed about 300 lbs, which I am sure made the ISF a tick slower. The auto has a ton of gears, but I was not that impressed with how fast it up or down shifted. I like the interior, but, at 6'2" I was touching the ceiling. Again, this is not a problem in the 335i or E90 M3. I think the Lexus will be a hit with folks who want Toyota reliability and a bit less $$ for a lot of equipment, as well as a slush box. I could never get a traditional auto in a performance machine -- which means the M3 is the only car for me
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      03-16-2008, 02:57 AM   #13
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can you say....
T-O-Y-O-T-A?
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      03-16-2008, 09:47 AM   #14
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can you say....
T-O-Y-O-T-A?

What's your point?
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      03-16-2008, 10:40 AM   #15
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I wonder why it has taken so long for the IS-F to actually reach dealerships. I remember first seeing this car in person at last year's auto shows. That was over 14 months ago.
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      03-16-2008, 10:57 AM   #16
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I wonder why it has taken so long for the IS-F to actually reach dealerships. I remember first seeing this car in person at last year's auto shows. That was over 14 months ago.

It's already available in most Lexus dealers. Many members in Lexus forums have gotten their cars already. The problem is the limited production for this year of only 5000-6000 cars for the U.S. market.
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      03-16-2008, 12:22 PM   #17
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can you say....
T-O-Y-O-T-A?
And that's a bad thing? Toyota/Lexus quality and reliability is top notch.
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      03-16-2008, 12:26 PM   #18
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can you say....
T-O-Y-O-T-A?
glad you can spell
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      03-16-2008, 12:39 PM   #19
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can you say....
T-O-Y-O-T-A?
I know right. It's still a Toyota. That's exactly why I bought my IS350.
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      03-17-2008, 04:35 AM   #20
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Having now driven an M3 (MT coupe), they're both great cars. The differences between the two are smaller than some would like to admit (I have 2 BMWs and have had 2 Lexus in the past so I'm fairly neutral on this). My guess is that the M-DCT will be better than the 8-speed auto but we'll see when my car arrives in May.

For me the differences are that I like the exterior looks of the M3 better (even the sedan), don't like the silver aluminum in the IS-F, and felt that the M3 was a bit more sporty even when driven less aggressively. The Nav systems, bluetooth etc. are a wash for me. The M3 with M-DCT will cost me about 10K more than a similarly equipped IS-F, but I'm happy with my decision.
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      03-18-2008, 01:35 PM   #21
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Quote:
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Having now driven an M3 (MT coupe), they're both great cars. The differences between the two are smaller than some would like to admit (I have 2 BMWs and have had 2 Lexus in the past so I'm fairly neutral on this). My guess is that the M-DCT will be better than the 8-speed auto but we'll see when my car arrives in May.

For me the differences are that I like the exterior looks of the M3 better (even the sedan), don't like the silver aluminum in the IS-F, and felt that the M3 was a bit more sporty even when driven less aggressively. The Nav systems, bluetooth etc. are a wash for me. The M3 with M-DCT will cost me about 10K more than a similarly equipped IS-F, but I'm happy with my decision.
it's good that your objective
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      03-19-2008, 01:07 AM   #22
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I have read some negative things about the IS-F tranny on IS-F forums, from actual owners and test drives.

"The only problem I have noticed is the auto transmission is not as responsive as I had thought it would be....when in auto sport mode and driving, when I full throttle the accelerator there is a 1/2- 1 second hesitation before the car will downshift and accelerate....this is most noteable when I am trying to merge on the freeway...I definitely notice a hestitation when the transmission is trying to search for lower gear before opening the throttle."

"I noticed this too after testdriving the IS-F twice, that there was a significant delay in downshifting. Even if you press hard on the gas to show your every intention of accelerating. I will wait until they put out a TSB and tweak the ECU for faster response time."

IS-F owners and fanboys are now resigned to the fact the M3 is a much better performer, after seeing the recent Motor Trend Comparo. Where the M3 beat the IS-F by 4.4 seconds a lap.
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