The 2012 Lexus IS F offers up impressive performance and tenacious road-holding grip. It's also much more suitable as a daily driver thanks to recent suspension improvements. This isn't your typical Lexus. Where some of the brand's models get criticized for being bland to drive, the 2012 Lexus IS F is sporty and spicy. With inspiring performance and aggressive styling flourishes, it's poised to challenge the luxury sport sedan establishment. But this hasn't always been the case. When the Lexus IS F was introduced five years ago, it suffered from overly harsh suspension tuning. Furthermore, this harshness failed to provide a performance advantage over its competitors. But thanks to numerous revisions in 2011, the IS F's suspension is much more compliant, and as a result, it gives you not only more comfort but also more confidence. These improvements make the IS F worthy of your attention, although you're probably already intrigued by the 416-horsepower V8. The 2012 Lexus IS F is a high-performance luxury sport sedan based on the regular IS sedan. It's offered in a single well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 19-inch alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, a sport-tuned suspension, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming mirrors, eight-way power heated leather front sport seats with memory settings, suede seat inserts (black leather only), dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth (with audio streaming) and a 13-speaker audio system with a six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, iPod integration and an auxiliary audio jack. A two-tone interior color scheme in either red or white with black is available at no additional cost. A hard-drive-based navigation system with a back-up camera, real-time traffic and weather updates is optional. Also available is a 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system (requires purchase of the navigation system), front and rear parking sensors and adaptive cruise control. Navigation-equipped vehicles come with a one-year subscription to Lexus Enform, which provides on-call travel advisors who can help drivers with destinations (e.g., a movie theater or the closest gas station) and then send the info to the navigation system. After a comprehensive freshening in 2011, the 2012 Lexus IS F receives only minor changes, including slightly wider wheels and tires and a revised interior color scheme. The rear-wheel-drive 2012 Lexus IS F is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 416 hp and 371 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic with a Manual mode and shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel is the only transmission offered. In Edmunds testing, the Lexus IS F accelerated to 60 mph from a standstill in a brisk 4.8 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg in combined driving. Standard safety features for the 2012 Lexus IS F include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A one-year complimentary subscription to Safety Connect, which provides collision notification, stolen vehicle recovery and an "SOS" emergency help button is also included. A pre-collision system is also available with the optional adaptive radar cruise control that senses an impending collision and automatically adjusts seatbelt tension and braking force. No question, the 2012 Lexus IS F is exciting to drive. The powerful V8 roars when prodded and has no problem laying waste to the rear tires in a torrent of white smoke (with the traction control disabled, of course). Even when cruising, the baritone exhaust tempts you to feed in more and more throttle. The chassis is capable of complementing the abundant power, with precise steering and high levels of cornering grip. Traditionalists will bemoan the lack of a manual transmission, but the eight-speed automatic proves
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