So Lexus reckons it can do quick as well as quiet?
The IS-F is the first in a series of F-badged performance cars with which Lexus hopes to take on Merc's AMG and BMW's M division. It was one of the few cars at Detroit that hadn't been seen before its unveil slot. While it might struggle to beat the established players at its first attempt, Lexus hasn't sent the IS-F into battle under-equipped. Its 5.0-litre V8 produces 400bhp and 350lb ft of torque, and is good for 60mph in 4.9sec. It gets an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle-shifters and 14-inch six-pot Brembo brakes.
I don't think I'll confuse it with a regular IS then
Not with styling like that. After 17 years of majoring on refinement, the IS-F is all visual aggression. There are 19-inch rims by BBS, major changes to the bonnet and nose to cram in that V8, a wide-boy bodykit and very distinctive quad exhaust pipes. Inside there's an oil temperature gauge, change-up lights and black-and-white leather trim on the bespoke sports seats.
But will it be any good to drive?
With a 400bhp V8, it's not exactly going to be dull, and you'll be able to reduce the interference of the Lexus VDIM stability control, or switch it off altogether. Lexus is already saying that this is a 'different kind of performance saloon', perhaps trying to avoid the inevitable dynamic comparisons with the Mercedes C55 and the new BMW M3). But loyal Lexus customers will buy it regardless, and if it can capture a fraction of their sales it will be a success.
When does it come to the UK?
The IS-F's final details haven't been released, but it will be priced to undercut the new M3 (itself V8-powered, see our exclusive BMW scoop here). And there will be more in the F-series; the LF-A supercar concept is likely to be the next to make production, followed by an F-badged version of the next-generation GS saloon. The IS-F could be badged IS500 in the UK; it goes on sale in late 2007 or early 2008.