Some things in this world are honest and predictable. When I see sliced pineapples that are as white as powder, I know they're going to be sour - but because I'm human and I'm stupid, I'll go ahead and take a bite out of it anyway.
My eyes vanish from my face and I sit in agony for ten seconds. It's no different from a shot of tequila. I don't drink. I don't enjoy the taste nor do I enjoy the buzz, but when it's the birthday of a friend and people are egging me on to take a shot - a subconscious voice tells me that it's not going taste as horrible as I think - because it's my friend's birthday.
I take the shot, and it's like I just gulped down some 95 octane fuel. My organs lose 5% of their lifespan, but that's okay because I can now spit fire like one of Khaleesi's dragons. As humans, we tend to make exceptions to certain truths in hopes that miraculously, given a special circumstance, the reality will be different. It never is.
"It hails from one of the largest mass automobile manufacturers, yet, its overall presence couldn't be further from its essence."
In contrast, when I saw this IS 350 F Sport, I knew that I was going to like it. Lexus is everything but a liar. It has been, for a very long time now, one of the most honest brands in the world. Three decades ago they said that they were going to create the quietest and most beige luxury sedans in the world, and they delivered. They also said that their LX can do absolutely everything a Land Cruiser can except in uncompromising luxury, and they achieved that too. And after making some of the most boring cars in the world, they said they were going to blow our minds with a supercar to remember them by. That's exactly what happened, didn't it?
People until this day praise the LFA and regard it as one of the all time greats in the history of supercars. So when the IS 350 F Sport was turned over to me and it looked like a luxury car gone rogue, I knew I was going to fall in love with it. I assumed that all the holes in its face stood for something higher than aesthetics and that its naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 would make it a proper weapon. With Lexus, you can trust a first impression - like your family's new accountant, who happens to be the son of your grandfather's accountant. There's warmth and security that if you start missing money, you most certainly will not blame him.
Lifestyle all the way home.
What makes the IS 350 F Sport so appealing is its freshness. A lot of its competition like the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class have been writing the luxury compact car bible since God ordered Noah to build an Ark. The scriptures of dynamics, luxury, and "German" precision are repeated all throughout the book like a responsorial psalm, and yet - here comes a Japanese rogue warrior who wasn't originally part of the story.
It hails from one of the largest mass automobile manufacturers, yet, its overall presence couldn't be further from its essence. The IS 350 F Sport arrives with a completely unique flavor. Instead of boasting about pedigree and heritage, it looks into the future and embraces the digital age. If the Germans reek of fascism and nepotism while telling the same old story we've heard over the years, the Lexus introduces democracy into the history books.
Hot as hell and cold as ice.
I mean, just look at it. It is from a completely new breed of car. The body, I imagine, must have started out as a big mold of clay, and then a ninja rappelled from the ceiling and started slicing away. The slashes and stabs have created its bold, sharp, and crisp shape that hide none of its Japanese heritage. Instead of tucking its tail in the presence of a BMW, it stands proud and more dynamic than ever.
With a beautiful set of LED headlights that look like jewels in the night flanked underneath by large air intakes and a gorgeous set of alloy wheels, it isn't very subtle about the performance of what lurks underneath its bonnet. It is the only car in its segment that has an atmospheric V6 engine. Every single one of the competition have gone with forced induction. There was a time when turbo was cool. It was even written at the back of cars and even vacuums. Today, turbocharging is about efficiency and it has therefore become quite daft. It was a hero that lived long enough to watch itself become the villain.
The interior of the IS 350, especially in this F Sport trim, is something to write home about. The gorgeous red leather interior mixed with its black accents is a thing of beauty. It feels special and unlike anything else the competition has. When you get in one of the Germans, they don't feel too apart from each other. It's like they all kind of copy from each other, whereas this one, is completely original.
The digital instrument panel has been lifted from the mighty LFA, which makes it seriously cool. The chronograph looking dial even moves to the right when you decide to access more options on the panel. The large center display is a beauty. It is controlled by what they like to call Remote Touch, a mouse-like controller with haptic feedback that allows you to access the menus like a Playstation - it sounds like it too.
"Its roots may be about building the most boring cars for retired bankers and lawyers, but this car couldn't be further from that."
The menu and the options can take some getting used to. They aren't as organized or as easy to operate as the systems found in a BMW and neither is the Remote Touch as intuitive to use as an iDrive. It's a bit clumsy, but once you're used to it and all of your settings are put in place, the experience becomes more seamless and coherent. Oh, and amidst this digital world, there is a clock at the center.
Yes, it's a clock. The seats are tightly bolstered as well. Although, it took a while for me to find the right driving position. I didn't immediately fit in like a glove, and my right arm would constantly hit the center console and the bolsters of the seats. I might be a little bit too tall for this car, until I checked how much space there was left at the rear. The cabin space of this car is quite impressive.
The top speed is limited to 230 km/h, but I've heard that when delimited, it can nudge 272 km/h.
Driving this car makes you forget the world renown luxury brand that Lexus is. Its roots may be about building the most boring cars for retired bankers and lawyers, but this car couldn't be further from that. It is sharp, confidence inspiring, and contemporary. The car doesn't offer the same clear lines of communication through the steering wheel as something like a BMW, but it's not that far off. Its ancestors must be rolling in their graves, because the apple couldn't have fallen farther from the tree. The 3.5-liter V6 is tuned beautifully in this car. In sport mode, it sings and gallops from standstill to 100 km/h in an athletic 5.8 seconds. The top speed is limited to 230 km/h, but I've heard that when delimited, it can nudge 272 km/h. Now, where and how to remove that limiter.
Above and beyond its arsenal of weapons, its true ace up its sleeves is the cost for all of this luxury and sportiness - PHP3,288,000. Think about that for a while. If you wanted to get anything with more than 300 horsepower from any of its rivals, you'd have to cough up at least a million pesos more - and that's if you're lucky. At this price point, your only choice from the competition is a 2-liter four-banger diesel and you'd be lucky to have half of the options available in this car. This car is fully loaded with every single option that you can imagine, and it's got air-conditioned seats for crying out loud. Who doesn't love that? If you are looking for a sports car, which means you are willing to pay for its fuel, but you need space for your kids - look no further. It feels special.
First impressions last.