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2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Review: A Grade of F

2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, profile
Photo: V.Aubé
2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, profile

Auto123 reviews the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance.

The automotive world has changed a lot over the past 20 years. Since the turn of the millennium, the industry has moved – stampeded, almost - towards SUVs, but also towards greater connectivity, assisted driving, safety for all and of course electrification. But amidst this technological whirlwind, some brands have persisted in offering cars that are tied to the past.

Take for example the current Dodge Challenger that's been soldiering on largely intact since 2008, or even Volkswagen’s Golf GTI that has been following the same slowly-evolving formula since the 1970s. Even Lexus has shown a penchant for looking back, with sedans like the GS (which left us a few years ago, mind you) and the LS. Though for the Japanese automaker, when it comes to sportiness, nothing comes close to the IS sedan... except maybe the RC coupe based on the same architecture.

Possibly – probably? - for the last time, Lexus brings another revised edition to the “affordable” performance segment with the IS 500 F Sport Performance. For those who remember, Lexus delivered the IS F sedan for the 2008 model-year; it was the first and only IS to feature a big V8 engine under its hood. It’s that same engine that sits under the hood of this 2022 IS 500.

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2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, front grille
Photo: V.Aubé
2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, front grille

The thing is, the IS 500 F Sport Performance doesn't officially carry the F name, which 12 years ago was brought forth with the mission of taking on the AMG, M and RS performance brands. The first IS F succeeded, not in dethroning the German giants, but in proving that performance existed outside of Europe. But here, Lexus has chosen F Sport.

But whatever the name Lexus has chosen for its steroidal new IS, lovers of big engines and rear-wheel drive are served once again, though probably for the last time - because this way of doing things is no longer as well accepted these days, for a multitude of reasons.

We recently had the opportunity to put the 2022 IS 500 F Sport Performance to the test... though not on the track. No, we drove it exclusively on the road, where most owners will be using it.

With a name like that...
As we touched on above, the name of this sedan has very little importance. What is important is that this IS 500 is the worthy descendant of the IS F, even if this new variant seems closer to the other IS than to the IS F, which was almost exotic in 2008.

It's a bit strange that the RC coupe, closely related to the IS sedan, wears the authentic F badge, but not the sedan. On the other hand, the asking price for this IS 500 F Sport Performance is $72,900, compared to $87,550 for the RC F coupe. So it's safe to say that the IS 500 sedan is a bargain when compared to the coupe. Talk about paying for the name…

2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, engine
Photo: V.Aubé
2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, engine

The majestic V8
The coupe may be more exclusive, but it shares its heart with the new IS 500. The naturally-aspirated 5.0L V8 they both use is the same as found in many Lexus models, but it develops more power than the first IS F anyway. In fact, compared to the 416 hp and 371 lb-ft of torque of the first F, the IS 500 delivers 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque, figures that are quite indicative of its sportier mission.

Compared to the latest German - or even Italian, because let's not forget the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - missiles, the Lexus IS 500 lags somewhat behind on the power front, but it still stands out from the competition with its naturally aspirated engine that hits peak generosity between 2,500 and 3,000 RPM. Plus, the throaty sound reminds us how much humans in general - or at least us driving nuts - love the purr of a V8 that roars all the way up to the top of its tachometer, not far from 7,000 RPM.

To crank things up to 11, you can always select the Sport or Sport+ modes, of course!

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