Updated: Apr 1, 2022
In what we are told is the twilight age of sedans in general, it's always refreshing to get some seat time in a right-sized four-door. Not too big, not too small. The Lexus IS has always been something of an awkward middle child, especially when the brand had the GS in the lineup, through 2019.
That was resolved, convincingly, with the refreshed 2021 Lexus IS 350 F SPORT, which I reviewed last summer. It's a handler, and it's quick, but it's not the monster the last-generation's IS-F was.
So to bring a little more power to the proceedings for 2022, Lexus delivers the IS 500 F SPORT Performance.
For the IS 500, Lexus goes all Carroll Shelby on us. "Will a five-liter V8 fit? Then drop that sucker in there and let's drive!" Especially exciting is that this is the exact 5.0 V8 that powered the previous IS F---but better. The original made 418 horsepower. This one? 472. Redline 7,300 rpm. And no need for piped-in fake engine noises here---mash the throttle and at 2,800 rpm an intake bypass opens and, trust me, you'll hear it fine without electronics.
60 from a standing start? About 4.3 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimate? 20 city, 25 highway. Not bad considering all that muscle. What the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance doesn't have that the old IS F did is a hardcore suspension setup. The old IS F was a track car masquerading as a sedan. This car, like all Lexus F SPORT models, comes at it from the other direction---improving the handling from what you get in standard models. That's not to say it's not good---it is---very. Let's just say that the new car is faster, but a bit less furious. Which is probably a solid compromise for everyday driving.
The base price of the 2022 Lexus IS F SPORT in Performance trim, like our tester, is $61,000---and everything's standard. That includes a panoramic view monitor, dual-zone automatic climate control, deodorizing and pollen-removing clean air filter, power rear sunshade, adaptive variable suspension, Yamaha rear performance dampers, selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom), a Torsen limited-slip differential, a 17-speaker, 1,800-watt, 7.1-channel premium Mark Levinson surround sound audio system, navigation and Lexus' Safety System+ 2.5 and the Lexus Enform app suite.
The only extra-cost option on our tester was the Iridium paint ($500). So, with $1,075 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance is $62,575.
And in a page from the original Lexus playbook, that price undercuts several European competitors by several thousand dollars. The Lexus IS 500 is a high-performance machine with room for the family and Lexus reliability. Is good, yes?