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Friday, January 27, 2023

Lexus IS builds, new F performance structure get SEMA reveal

Lexus just announced a new F brand strategy at SEMA, and while the products themselves are not getting a massive overhaul yet, it’s vital to understand the new terms if you plan on being in the market for a sporty Lexus soon.

Prior to today, we had F Sport, F Sport Performance and F. The F Sport cars were mostly aesthetic upgrades, and while some of them had performance upgrades, not all of them did. Only one F Sport Performance vehicle exists now, and it’s the IS 500 F Sport Performance. Meanwhile, we have a number of F models, which is Lexus’ highest-performance moniker.

Going forward, there will be four performance tiers: F SPORT Design, F SPORT Handling, F SPORT Performance and F. We’ll lay out Lexus’ definitions of all four below for you.

  • F SPORT Design: These vehicles may feature sport-inspired exterior design, including unique front and rear bumpers, grille and wheels.
  • F SPORT Handling: Will build on Design with sport-tuned suspension components honed at the track, including Adaptive Variable Suspension.
  • F SPORT Performance: In addition to the updated suspension components, these models may receive a higher-performance powertrain, as seen in the 2022 IS 500.
  • F: As the highest expression of Lexus performance, F models will be further upgraded with innovative components developed for the racetrack, including upgraded brakes, advanced aerodynamics and lightweight materials.

So there you have it. Similar to the Germans with multiple layers of AMG, Audi Sport and BMW M, Lexus will have multiple layers of F.

In addition to this actual product news, Lexus revealed a pair of SEMA show cars. Both of them are from the IS tree, with one being an IS 500 F Sport Performance, and the other being an IS 350 F Sport. We’ll start with the IS 500.

Hiraku & Townsend Bell is behind this “Street Performance” IS 500. Nothing much changed with the powertrain, but it does add an A’Pexi induction box, TOMS Racing carbon fiber suction pipe and A’Pexi exhaust system. Handling is enhanced with TOMS chassis braces in the front and rear. Plus, it gets an A’Pexi adjustable coilover system. Rotiform LAS-R 20-inch wheels are wrapped in Nitto tires, and a Brembo GT braking system improves stopping power.

You can tell that the IS 500’s appearance has been modified, too — it’s sporting a one-off 3-D-printed body kit. The Hiraku Co. designed it, adding a front lip, trunk lid spoiler, side steps, rear diffuser, front fenders, canards, roof spoiler and rear bumper garnish. Both the hood and trunk are made of carbon fiber, too.

As for the IS 350, the aftermarket work is done by DSPORT and Scott Pruett. However, Lexus says it’s only partly done, and will be fully finished by SEMA 2022. By the 2022 show, it’s promised to have over double the current horsepower than it currently has (311 horses) and even more track enhancements. For now, most of the enhancements are aesthetic. It gets an Artisan Spirits’ body kit, Advan Racing forged wheels (for racing), 20-inch Rotiform wheels (for show), and both sets are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. Suspension work currently consists of KW Variant 3 coilovers, but there’s more to come. The carbon ceramic brakes from the RC F Track Edition are used, and a roll bar is fitted inside. On the exterior, it’s rocking a wrap inspired by Scott Pruett’s helmet design.

That’s all for now, as we’ll have to wait for next year’s SEMA show to see how Lexus finishes the project.

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