By: BRANDON RANDALL
The 2014 Lexus ISF Sport is a great in between for those wanting something with more character than the base IS, but that don’t need everything offered by the pricier ISF V8. The IS F Sport isn’t trying to be a supercar, Lexus has the LFA for that. It’s not trying to be a luxury car, the LS series fills that slot perfectly. The ISF Sport is exactly what it’s intended to be, a well thought out balance of spirited performance with the luxury undertones we’ve come to expect from Lexus.
The model I experienced started at just over $45,000 and came well equipped. Expected features abounded like Bluetooth connectivity, duel USB ports and steering wheel mounted audio, phone and display controls. The Lexus premium sound system has eight speakers for rich, full sound. A stand out feature is the centrally mounted sliding digital tachometer inspired by the LFA, which will move horizontally to reveal additional vehicle information. The interior is thoughtfully wrapped in soft padded leather, beautiful stitching, brushed metals, faux carbon fiber panels and high grade plastics. These materials look and feel luxurious, complementing each other elegantly. The leather seats are heated, nicely bolstered and set low for that race car inspired seating position without compromising visibility.
The IS F Sport offers various drive modes to help you make the most of your tank of gas, deal with snowy road conditions, and a Sport and Sport Plus mode for spirited driving. Each mode alters damping of the adaptive variable suspension (AVS), throttle response, steering heft and shift patterns from the 6-speed automatic gear box. Punch the ‘engine start’ button and the 3.5L V6 with the sound enhanced dual exhaust springs to life with a refined rumple. The sharp upshifts and rev-matched downshifts beautifully add to the engines soundtrack. The ISF Sport makes a respectable 306 horsepower at 6400 rpm’s with a combined 21 MPG rating.
From the outside this is a car that’s immediately recognizable. The 2014 IS F Sport is visually loud. With a commanding all mesh ‘spindle’ front grill, low rear diffuser, subtle ‘duck fin’ spoiler, flared fenders, and overall sharp body lines, it won’t be confused with anything else on the road. At 3700 pounds it’s no lightweight, but behaves like it is. It’s fast, fun and responsive to even minor steering, throttle and braking inputs. The chassis feels tight and buttoned down with minimal body roll under hard cornering. Overall, this sporty third generation IS is well mannered when you want it to be, but will put a big smile on your face should you ever be in the mood for something beyond ‘well mannered.’
(Check-back often for Brandon Randall’s auto column ‘Stick Shift’)