A new era of F Sport performance has arrived.
This is not, as you might assume, the Lexus IS F — a version of the brand’s sports sedan that shoehorned a massive V8 under the hood for the first time in the mid-2000s. You can certainly argue this is a spiritual successor (if not a direct one), but specifically this is the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance.
On the whole, we’ll shorten that to IS 500 here, but forget using the “F” moniker for the brand’s high-performance models. Instead, that’s where the “500” name comes in, and Lexus finally dished out more details on what its BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 competitor has up its sleeve. Surprisingly in the age of downsizing, Lexus is hanging on to a big, naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8. No small feat, especially when you consider the Lexus IS is hardly the battleship its LS 500 stablemate is (and even the LS doesn’t pack a V8…at least not yet).
You obviously get much more thrust with that sort of powertrain than the standard IS 350’s V6 can manage. Here, the 2022 Lexus IS 500 manages 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque. In short, the same sort of power output as the RC F coupe, with a couple extra doors to boot. At 3,891 pounds, the most potent IS is definitely no lightweight. However, it’s only 143 pounds heavier than the IS 350, and in the same ballpark as its high-performance rivals from BMW and Mercedes. At its core, the IS 500 is still a rear-wheel drive beast, with its big V8 mill mounted to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Finer control, better handling
Apart from just having more power, the 2022 Lexus IS 500 also has more driver controls than the lower-end F Sport variants. Beyond the standard Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes, the IS 500 adds a custom mode that will let you tune the powertrain and chassis how you want them. That’s actually fairly useful if you live somewhere with terrible roads, as you can usually call up sharp throttle response and steering while maintaining a more compliant ride.
To that end, Lexus includes its Dynamic Handling Package with the IS 500. That means you get adaptive variable suspension, as well as a Torsen limited-slip differential and larger, better-cooled brakes over the IS 350 F Sport. If you’re aiming to stand out from the other IS models, by and large the 500 receives subtle, but still noticeable styling tweaks. The Lexus team raised the IS 500’s hood two inches and lengthened the front bumper and fenders to accommodate the larger engine. At the back, you get a reshaped diffuser valence and quad exhaust pipes.
More tech details
As you’d expect, the 2022 Lexus IS 500 comes packed with all the features you’d expect lower down the range — bespoke F Sport Performance badges notwithstanding. Lexus Safety System 2.5+ comes fitted with a pre-collision system, as well as all-speed radar cruise control, lane departure alert and automatic high beams. A 10.3-inch infotainment screen (shown above) is also available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 2022 Lexus IS 500 will hit dealers this fall, but no pricing will be available until closer to launch. At any rate, this will likely be among the last outing of the brand’s 5.0-liter V8 engines (along with other reveals this year), as it will inevitably downsize from here on out. So, if you’re looking for a big, naturally-aspirated V8 sports sedan, keep your eyes peeled. This year may be your last chance.