These are speed sensitive times with lengthy bans and even jail hiding among the bushes for transgressors of the law.
But it doesn’t stop manufacturers trying to break the sound barrier with their rocket propelled flagships. All they need to do in reality to cover themselves is print “where permitted” in the marketing material next to the bit which gives three figure top speeds.
In the case of the Japnese marque Lexus it was actually quite easy concept to produce a hot version of the entry level IS. As a manufacturer they already had a big 5.0 litre V8 motors pushing their limos around in creamy smooth fashion.
So all they needed to do was squeeze them into the smallest bodyshell they could find, whack on a rorty exhaust and stiff suspension, massive alloys and a batmobile tailpipe - and there you have it, a potential M3 beater.
Well there’s a debate I’m not prepared to enter - is the ISF and real rival for the all-conquering BMW M3? Whether it is or not you must agree that the Lexus is at the very least a worthy contender.
On paper, just look how close they rank. With the ISF the pricetag is a little bit lower at £50k. Both engines pack eight cylinders stacked in a V but the Lexus is a lot larger than the BMW's - 5.0 litre as opposed to 4.0 litre. Power output is within 3bhp of each other. Top speed is a lot more because the Lexus will do 168mph and the M3 is governed to the gentleman’s agreement 155mph.
The 0-62mph sprint time is within 0.2 seconds; the BM just about shaving it. But the Lexus is more economical.
They both look what they are - bruisers - with side skirts and spoilers, whopping alloys and bulgy bits. You should see the ISF's straining bonnet. The IS is normally the entry level model with modestly sized motors under the skin. This particular model has stretched its bonnet around the V8 like a military bed with hospital corners.
So enough of comparisons - what's it like? Up to 4,000rpm it’s a mild mannered janitor. It’s typical Lexus, supremely smooth and refined, peppy and controlled without being astounding.
At 4,000rpm something magnificent happens. Some little elf under the bonnet flicks a switch, turns up the volume and makes the world pass by in a blur. The noise is a symphony of V8 aural magnificence, stunning the senses. The back end twitches as the computer controlled stability control plays with the grip and the power to provide optimum propulsion.
Grip is good, ride is brick hard and can jar. But as you would expect there simply isn’t any body roll and the steering is superb.
Specification is bewildering. There's every toy imaginable and touch screen to boot. The stereo has a million speakers, the climate control is so good you could operate inside the rarefied atmosphere without any fear of infection.
IS is not a big car of course but it doesn't really matter when you have the V8 pulsating away underneath. It’s a sports car in every respect - except you get the added bonus of a decent boot and four leather seats.
ISF is a worthy addition to a great range of quality cars. It is thrilling to drive with one of the best sounding engines there is today. It can be so civilised around town with only the bulges and slightly menacing exhaust rumble threatening what it can unleash. But it can also be the rocketship it is designed to be with sensory shredding performance. We’ll see you in court then.
Model: Lexus ISF
Engine: 5.0 litre V8 petrol
Drivetrain: eight speed automatic
Top speed: 168mph
Insurance group: 20
Miles per gallon combined: 24.8
CO2 (g/km): NA
Price: £50,076.00Reuse content