A little over a week after Mercedes confirmed that its entire next-gen C-Class range—AMG C63 included—would come with four-bangers, Lexus has announced that it’s putting its naturally-aspirated V8 back into the thoroughly-refreshed-if-not-totally-new IS. Yes, the rumors were true and the trademark filings actually meant something because we’re delighted to say: the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance is officially happening. And, to boot, it’ll be sold exclusively in North America. (To our NA readers: that last detail, strictly speaking, shouldn’t affect our enjoyment of this news or this car. But it does, doesn’t it?)
Despite it coming with the company’s glorious 5.0-liter V8, this isn’t an IS F. Instead, Lexus is using the IS 500 to introduce its new “F Sport Performance” line, a halfway house between full F cars and the mostly-cosmetic F Sport packages. It’s a bit like how BMW has M Performance, Audi has its S cars, and Mercedes-AMG has those AMGs that branding blowhards constantly like to point out are not “real” AMGs. Naturally, then, Lexus says its 2022 IS 500 F Sport Performance will directly compete with the BMW M340i, Mercedes-AMG C43, and the Audi S4 despite it having two more cylinders and about 100 more horsepower than those sport sedans.
That unassisted V8 makes 472 hp and 395 pound-feet of torque, which is pretty much the same as it produces in the LC 500 and RC F. Paired to an eight-speed auto and rear-wheel drive, the 3,891-pound IS 500 weighs just 143 pounds heavier than the V6-powered IS 350 F Sport and gets from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. For perspective, both the Lexus LC 500 grand tourer and BMW’s rear-drive M340i hit 60 in 4.4.
Bigger brakes measuring 14 inches up front and 12.7 inches in the rear get improved cooling and sit behind a new set of 19-inch Enkei wheels that cut unsprung weight by a pound each in the front and two pounds each in the rear over the regular F Sport wheels. Adaptive Variable Suspension is standard, as are a Torsen limited-slip differential and a new Yamaha rear performance damper which apparently cuts down on “dynamic structural distortion,” resulting in improved low-speed comfort and high-speed handling.
Aesthetically, the IS 500 lives up to its not-a-full-F status by not really looking all too different from the existing, lower-class IS models. (Note the lack of fender gills, carbon fiber trim, or hood vents.) That said, it does get a bulgier hood that’s almost two inches higher than normal, as well as a lengthened front bumper and fenders to make room for that big, stonkin’ V8. Its quad-exhaust tips are vertically stacked just like a full-on F car and are surrounded by an aggressive rear diffuser. The window frames, meanwhile, are finished in dark chrome.
Official pricing has yet to be announced but considering the cars Lexus has quoted as direct competition, expect the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance to start somewhere in the $50,000 range. For reference, the rear-drive V6 IS 350 F Sport starts at $43,925. The IS 500 will hit dealerships later this fall.
A new, naturally-aspirated V8 sport sedan in 2021 with rear-wheel drive, that LFA-inspired gauge cluster, and Toyota reliability? Where do I sign?
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