The new Lexus IS 500 took the world by surprise. It brought back the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 into the small, rear-wheel-drive chassis. A V8-powered IS, sounds like the perfect recipe for an IS F comeback, don't you think? Despite that, the Japanese luxury marque didn't call it the new IS F. Instead, it's officially called the IS 500 F Sport Performance Line.
Why didn't Lexus call the IS 500 the new IS F? Well, we first have to understand Lexus' new F product range. The new F Sport Performance Line, introduced with the IS 500, slots between the F Sport and the fully-fledged F models like the RC F. Confused? Think of it as something similar to BMW's three-tiered M Sport, M Performance, and full M models.
In an interview with Lexus Enthusiast, the automaker breaks down the new tier list even further to help us understand. According to the Lexus, F Sport models are denoted by “performance components honed at the track.”, meaning tuned suspension, limited-slip differentials, and sportier styling. Meanwhile, F Sport Performance takes it up a notch by combining those components with a high output powertrain – the V8 engine. For full F models, these deliver the highest expression of Lexus performance paired with advanced driver technology.
That said, the IS 500 is still missing ingredients that would make it into a full F model. What would those be? They didn't say specifically. But, these could include exclusive F model bumpers, larger brakes, and even a driver-oriented cabin with new gauges and seats. Heck, it can even mean more power or all-wheel drive for the hot sedan.
As it stands, the IS 500 is essentially a current-generation IS F Sport powered by a V8 engine. Most of the exterior and interior are carried over. The only exterior cue would be the power bulge on the hood and the quad exhaust. Still, we're not complaining. The IS 500 F Sport Performance can easily square up against European sport sedans such as the BMW M3, Audi RS4, and Mercedes-AMG C63.
Will we see an IS F in the future? We're not sure, but we're hoping. It's about time a new F model debuts. One thing is for sure, though. Lexus has more in store for the IS sedan and the F division.