The IS 350 F-Sport Has Power and Class
If the IS 350 F-Sport doesn’t make you feel the world is wonderful for at least a few miles, check your pulse. It’s gorgeous. It’s powerful. It’s comfortable.
Lexus’ edgy designs and stalwart reliability have made for a popular choice among consumers looking for every type of luxury vehicle. Their compact sports sedan, the IS, is just another winner. Ringing in at an as-tested price of $50,525 (after $925 destination charge), this sporty sedan offers a massive bang for your buck in the face of its competition.
Standard features of the IS 350 selectable drive modes, HID headlamps, dual chrome exhaust pipes, the Lexus Enform Safety Connect system, and power heated driver and passenger seats, among much more. It can also come with optional all-wheel-drive and the $3,450 F Sport package, which adds visual accents on the front fascia, wheels, and inside as well.
Under the hood, the 3.5-liter V-6 is more than ample for quick city maneuvers and highway passing. Putting out 306-hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque, the power plant is smooth and responsive. Forced induction units in the equivalent 3 Series and C-Class models feel a generation ahead.
Of course, if you’ve been watching the news, the big story about the ’16 IS is the arrival of the 2.0-litre turbo-four cylinder shared with the NX 200t. Power is rated at 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. It takes the Audi A4 to the cleaners on the power front, with figures that sit closer to that model’s hi-po S4 model.
Steering is responsive and direct, managing to cut the balance nicely between comfortable and sporty. The selectable drive modes are a refreshing touch, as you can actually feel the car change attitudes when selecting Eco, Normal, or Sport with the knob located near the shifter.
Importantly for Chicagoans, there’s also a snow mode, which modifies the AWD system and transmission to provide the best possible grip in slippery situations – and grip it does. Even snow stars like the Volvo S60 get more out of sorts in these conditions than the IS did. Not only does it make a difference on the performance front, but it makes the IS a more viable vehicle for ski trips and other winter adventures.
Stepping inside the IS 350 F-Sport is almost like crossing a border, as the nature of the cabin is vastly different from that of the sheet metal. Clean, simple lines give the interior an analog feel, and the center-mounted clock is a tasteful throwback.
An LFA-inspired, driver-focused cockpit gets you in the mood to blast off, such as you can with this particular ride, and a quilted driver’s seat offers snug comfort and decent lateral support. Dual-zone automatic climate control with touch-sensitive electrostatic switches are easy to use and a 4.2-inch full color multi-information display including audio, trip, navigation, phone, ambient temperature is clear and attractive.
In all, Lexus has managed to create a strong competitor in an even more competitive segment. Check out the IS when it arrives at Lexus of Highland Park.