Robert Farago didn’t have many kind words for the cars he reviewed. But, while noting the car’s shortcomings, he lavished quite a few on the Lexus IS-F, even implying that he’d like to own one. How did Lexus’s first attempt at an ultra-high-performance car manage to melt RF’s normally stone cold heart?
As a nameplate, Lexus is now old enough to consume alcohol in all fifty states. Make no mistake, though: the brand Lexus has become is not the brand it was perhaps originally intended to be. Toyota and Nissan each launched with a (mostly) clean-sheet big V8 sedan and a warmed-over home-market showroom filler. For Nissan, the lineup was a short-wheelbase version of the all-new “President”, badged Q45, and a long-in-the-tooth Leopard coupe, yclept M30. Toyota introduced its “F1″ global flagship as the Lexus LS400. To keep the new LS from being lonely in the showrooms, a quick nose job was done on a JDM faux-hardtop midsizer, and the ES250 was born.
Perhaps the Japanese thought they could win the “D-class” battle against BMW and Mercedes-Benz as easily as they’d destroyed the British motorcycle industry or humiliated the American attempts to build subcompact cars. It didn’t quite work out that way. The Q45 badge moved to the rather dismal Nissan Cima before completely fading away. The M30 was a sales catastrophe, to put it mildly. While the current LS460 does about the same annual volume in the United States as the Mercedes-Benz S550, it does so with a base price that is almost $23,000 below that of the Benz.
It was the humblest of the original four offerings from Lexus and Infiniti that would go on to conquer, if not the world, then at least the continent of North America. Today, Lexus is one of the top-volume luxury brands in the market. Its killer Camry-derived duo of ES 350 and RX350 perennially occupy the top of their segments’ sales charts, generating over 100,000 sales per year. Lexus is one of the most famous success stories in the industry, but it began with a straight badge-engineering job of a nearly obsolete car.
There are certain phrases that, when heard in the proper context, signal that one has truly arrived in life. Phrases like “your table is waiting,” and “would you like a drink before we take off?” clearly belong in this comforting category. Strangely, however, the phrase “welcome to Beverly Hills, here are the keys to your Lexus IS250C,” does not.
Every luxury car make seems compelled to explore how low it can venture in the American market without hopelessly devaluing the brand. Mercedes no longer offers the C-Class hatchback Coupe and has shied away from offering the A- and B-Classes in the United States. BMW hasn’t offered a semi-affordable four-cylinder here since the 318ti was sent packing a decade ago. The Jaguar X-Type didn’t cut the mustard on this side of the pond. And Cadillac is still waiting for the world to forget the 1980s Cimmaron. Unfazed by this clear pattern of failure, Toyota for 2010 offers up the Lexus HS 250h. So, shall the ridicule begin?
Lexus should include a PlayStation 3 with every GS350 they sell the public, so the new owners can take their new vehicle for a spin around the Nurburgring in “Gran Turismo.” That way they’d be able to safely enjoy their new Lexus and not waste a single penny in gas. Either way, the driving experience wouldn’t change much.
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I am, of course, urging Roman Mica of tflcar.com to take a little more time for his reviews, deploy a few metaphors and tell us how he really feels. Remember: this internet deal is a two-way thing. If you’ve got some pointers for our budding videographer/reviewer, share them here. As with written work, TTAC welcomes new video contributors without regard to their editorial slant. All I ask is that the overall production quality meets the standard set by Mr. Mica and that you do NOT sound like a fanboy or a total asshole (that’s my job). Send an embed code (from YouTube) to email@example.com.
Euphemisms are our friends. If it weren’t for “calamari” my kids would have never tried squid. Similarly, the SUV became a more palatable version of the station wagon– although I am not sure how the wagon became an object of scorn by my generation. I have many happy memories slouched down in the third row, kissing girls. I suppose piloting one of those behemoths might have tempered my enthusiasm for the genre. The early SUV’s were thinly disguised trucks and evolved to become more like tall wagons currently known as crossovers. If the designers over at BMW have their way, mutant ninja vehicles will soon replace the crossovers. In the meantime, we have the 2010 Lexus RX350.
Review: 2010 Lexus RX350 Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
M, RS, V, F, AMG. The alpha alphabet represents five manufacturers’ best efforts to create something unique, exciting and memorable from their more prosaic mainstream motors. The resulting “performance tuned” sports sedans are so powerful, so capable, so versatile, that they’re the ground based equivalent of the all-weather fighter jets that battle for control of the skies. While the shibboleth “there’s no such thing as a bad car” applies here, there are always going to be winners and losers. And it’s our job to sort the wheat from the chaff.
‘There is nothing quite like it!’ Every enthusiast I know has that attitude towards their car. But rarely is it actually true. Platforms are shared. Engines and transmissions are modified and tossed into whatever else can accommodate them from a cost perspective. Compromises are made. Only sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes you can buy something so unique, so timeless, that you can appreciate it’s qualities even twenty or thirty years later. The Lexus SC400 is one of those rare, outstanding machines. Let’s start with the door hinge.
Can we forget the BMW M3 for a moment? If you analyze the IS-F from a evo-lutionary perspective, the highly-horsed Lexus four-door is a loser. Looks, handling, pedigree, charisma, horsepower– the IS-F is the Bimmer’s bitch. Instead, imagine approaching the IS-F as I did, after test driving the LS460. Driving along in Japan’s big ass barge, the usual pistonhead thoughts occurred. Sweet engine! If only the throttle was a touch more responsive. If there wasn’t this dreaded Old School floaty rebound. If the car was a bit… smaller. I don’t know. Fun. And then you jump into the IS-F. Mission accomplished. Only who asked Lexus to build a car for me?
Review: 2008 Lexus IS-F Take Two Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
A note to TTAC’s Best and Brightest: if this comparo sounds oddly familiar, that’s because something stinks. But it’s not the husky, malodorous adhesives wafting from the pleather-wrapped Hyundai Veracuz. Nor is it the you-gotta-be-kidding me popularity of a premium-priced Toyota Camry sitting on stilts. The funk comes from mentioning both in the same breath. But I swear on the effeminate grille of a B9 Tribeca that I’ve never read a certain Motor Trend review elucidating this very notion. Fair enough?
The Lexus IS250 is a chick car. Funny that. Its predecessor, the IS300, was such a guy car. In fact, every time I see a male of the species behind the wheel of a Lexus IS, I check my theory by scoping the badge. Sure enough: it's an IS350. Strange. The IS250 is a great entry-level luxury car. While it's slower than the 350, not everyone
can afford to pay that much needs that sort of power. So why aren't more guys driving one?
2008 Lexus IS250 Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
I disagree with every review of the Lexus LS600hL ever written. Categorically. To a man, my colleagues misinterpret the most expensive Lexus as a misguided planet-saver that doesn't deliver enough mpg to justify its sky-high price tag. I view the ultimate hybrid as better driving through science. In fact, despite the dorky "hybrid" badges uglifying the LS600hL's flanks, Lexus didn't build this beast to sip fuel. They built it to go toe-to-toe with 12-cylinder Germans.
2008 Lexus LS600hL Review – Take Two Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hammering the IS-F through the sleepy desert two-lanes of Rosamond, California, I tried to remind myself: “I’m driving a Lexus.” But the 416-horsepower sedan leaves little time for inner monologues. Caned hard, the IS-F reels in straight-aways like King Triton's spey rod. Corners arrive before your consciousness can catch up. Quick! Turn in, dip the throttle, unwind the hefty steering and feel the skittering rear wheels rotate you through the apex. Then look down at the silver “L” pointing at your chest. Cognitive dissonance much?
2008 Lexus IS-F Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
Lexus has gone green. That’s right. The Japanese luxury automaker’s website encourages actual and potential customers to explore eco-design and hybrid living. Meditative Asian music and beautiful nature photographs accompany the explanation: “Hybrid Living explores new ideas of how we can experience our lives in such a way that minimizes our impact on earth without sacrificing comfort and luxury.” Kinda makes me want to fire-up an incense stick, slip on some sandals and go for a slow Sunday afternoon drive in an ecologically-tuned Lexus. But my inner cynic won’t let me enjoy the ride. Despite Lexus’ posturing, the two-and-a-half ton LS600hL doesn’t run on herbal tea and happy thoughts.
Lexus LS600hL Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars