When asked what the "F" in the new Lexus IS-F (TM) stands for, I was dumbfounded. While further research did not turn up an exact answer, many have claimed it is in homage to Fuji Speedway. But I beg to differ. After driving the Lexus IS-F for several days, I think the F has to mean either "fast" or "first."
In pictures, the IS-F's exterior styling appears over-the-top and garish. However, in the flesh, it is rather subtle. Even revving the car's monstrous 5.0-liter V8 past that magical 4,000 rpm mark -- where the exhaust note changes from a hefty burble to what sounds like the scream of a chainsaw-wielding maniac -- did not draw much attention.
Keeping the motor below 4,000 rpms allows one to drive around town without frightening grandparents. However, open it up and you will wake the neighbors. Thank the vehicle's dual-inlet air cleaner for the wondrous roar; it opens up above 4,000 rpms and bypasses the muffler while increasing air flow.
The F's profile remains tastefully low to the ground, sitting one inch lower than a standard Lexus IS. Although one would suspect the ride to become teeth chattering, I found it relatively painless. The car rides very smoothly and manages to take bumps surprisingly well, considering it is fitted with 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires.
Let's face it, the standard IS is a mid-size sedan, and for someone like myself with a giraffe-like frame (6 feet 8 inches tall and 215 pounds), my expectations of comfort were low. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself pampered in the 10-way powered sport seats which had fantastic detail; contrasting blue stitching and an understated blue tone underneath its perforation. One thing to get used to is the low windshield and high beltline, which yield windows reminiscent of a tank. At first, I was skeptical of the "aluminized" interior trim but I grew to love it by the end of my time with the car -- blinding sun glare and all.