(By Tom Lohnes) – In an age of electrification and turbocharging, the new Lexus IS500 F-sport is a rare find, but it keeps the essence of a muscle car alive.
Basically a run-of-the-mill IS350 with a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 shoehorned into it, the IS500 isn’t the full-stop F version, but makes a ludicrous 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque while being competitively priced. Styling wise, the IS500 stays true to the clean lines of the IS300 and IS350, while blending in more muscle through some 19-inch Enkei wheels and the signature stacked exhausts that signify a V8 in Lexus culture. The Yamaha-developed 5.0-liter unit makes peak power at 4,800 RPM but can rev all the way to 7,300. Inside, the IS stays looking like an IS, which is a good thing, considering the excellent look, seating position, and overall quality that came with an IS350 tester we recently had. 0-60 happens in 4.5 seconds, which is quick for the segment.
The IS500 is a great filler model, think of it as the Scat Pack to the future IS F’s Hellcat. The IS500’s main competitors are the BMW M340i, Audi S4 and S5, as well as the Mercedes C 43 and Cadillac CT4-V. Quite surprisingly, considering this car has the on-paper potential to give an M3 a run for its money. The IS500 starts at $56,000, which is below many of its 4-and-6-cylinder powered challengers.