Does anyone remember the times when there was no doubt about V8 engines being put in the latest Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and other manufacturer sports sedans? Even if you never planned to buy one, it was still good to know that in case you would change your mind, there always are some great models to choose from.
But as the 21st century accelerates so quickly, many changes hit the car market regularly – strict regulations, rising interest in ecology, the domination of turbochargers, hybrids, to name a few. And while I do understand that car manufacturers always go after customer’s needs, it’s not very nice of them to leave us, trustworthy car lovers, behind.
But then, out of nowhere, Lexus IS 500 F-Sport Performance started roaming the internet – it’s a compact sports sedan powered by a large V8!
No rivals left for this one
You either want a fast sports car or a fast sports car with a five-liter V8 engine in it.
When you look into American muscle cars, there still are tons of V8 models, but they hardly can compete with German and Japanese engineering. There are three leading car brands in Europe: Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Audi has an RS4, which is fitted with a twin-turbocharged V6 TFSI engine. BMW M3 has a twin-turbocharged inline-6. Lastly, Mercedes-Benz put a pathetic Inline-4, 2.0 L hybrid in a C63 AMG.
On that note: Why bother with such big titles like C63 when the real engine was downgraded from more than six liters to only two? Face the reality Mercedes-Benz – C20 AMG is the new cool from now on.
However, then comes the real deal – Lexus IS 500 with a 5.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 engine. How rare is that for today? It’s a comfortable, luxurious, rear-wheel-drive sports compact sedan with a burly powerhouse in it.
The price is also pleasantly surprising. Lexus was and still is known for its high-quality cars, which are quite expensive. But the estimated price of IS 500 should start at about 60.000 euros, while M3 or RS4 starts at about 70.000 – 80.000 euros.
New features and design
This car is made to be fun, and it is! The engine produces 472 horsepower and can do 0-100 km/h in just 4,5 seconds. Moreover, quad exhaust system sounds brutal. Lexus noted that this sound was inspired by other F-line models, such as RC F. The F-Sport Performance version will only be available with 8-speed automatic transmission.
When the new Lexus IS showed up in 2013, I had very mixed feelings about it. There were so many curves that the whole car looked like origami. However, Lexus has been improving it, and this 2021 update is genuinely awesome – vicious headlights, raised front hood, quad exhaust system, bolstered sport seats, dark chrome parts, and F Sport badging. It seems that they found all weak links and are creating one of the greatest sports sedans to this date.
What’s with the Performance in the title?
You may have noticed that IS F wasn’t enough for Lexus anymore, so they decided to add Sport Performance, which is a bit odd. The second-generation IS F had almost the same V8 engine, which was awesome. When the third-gen Lexus IS got on sale in 2013, the idea of putting a V8 engine in it was killed and revived only seven years later. In the official press release, Lexus states this is the first model in the F SPORT Performance line.
But hold on a second… is 0,1 second improvement worth the “Performance” title? 2008 Lexus IS F does 0-100 km/h in 4,6 seconds, but the all-new 2021 Lexus IS 500 F-Sport Performance can do that in 4,5 seconds. Sure, there are design and sound improvements, but they have nothing to do with the actual performance.
Listen, Lexus, I understand that putting a V8 in a compact sedan nowadays seems crazy, and we appreciate this. But you only reused the old 5.0-liter V8 engine after tweaking it a bit. So, it’s not that big of a deal after all. Don’t get cocky.
Lexus IS 500 can be the last of the breed
Take a look at cars from the 90s era – car brands competed by creating bigger engines, putting more leather and wood inside the car. Nowadays, people are obsessed with technology like LED headlights, rich infotainment systems, and the latest features. Not many care about the number of cylinders anymore.
So, if you decided that you want a genuine, refined V8 in your life – this may be the last chance for you.
A compact Lexus with a V8 is all we want to hear. It's a bit outdated, but the world needs analog cars like this one.
- Good bits: 5.0-liter V8 packs decent amount of power and, more importantly, delivers the symphony for the gearheads.
- Room for improvement: I bet the infotainment system is rubbish. Some of the interior bits look too outdated and it does not have LSD for the driving enthusiasts.