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Lexus IS spawns M3 rival (2009)

Published: 13 December 2006

V8 power for Lexus super saloon

Lexus hopes to add performance credentials to its reputation for refinement with a sporty V8 version of the IS compact exec in 2008. Think of the IS-F as Japan’s answer to Audi RS, BMW M and Mercedes AMG models. It’s the first in a range of high-performance Lexus models designed to compete head on with German and British sports saloons. The F badge has been revealed in this teaser image ahead of the full unveil at the Detroit Motor Show in January. The regular IS has a sharp-suited but conservative design, and it looks like the IS-F will be given a dose of the butch pills to give it more attitude: the wheelarches are more flared to accommodate wider tyres, and unusual, double-decker oval exhaust pipes give the rear a distinctive character. These spy shots taken at the Nurburgring last summer reveal how the rest of the car will look. The Lexus IS-F will be powered by a V8 – in this instance, a 4.6-litre unit developing at least 350bhp. By next year, a V8 will be de rigeur in the compact sports saloon market: Audi’s RS4 already has one, and next year’s new BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG will follow suit. It should be enough to make the IS a real flier. Whether its dynamics will match the best the Germans can muster remains to be seen, but now the V8 powerplant has been confirmed, we can expect 0-60mph in around 5.0sec and a top speed of at least 155mph, depending on whether Lexus removes the limiter.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet