After having debuted two versions of it's new flagship sedan, the LS 500 and LS 500h, Lexus has unleashed the bratty younger brother of the pair. This is the LS 500 F Sport. (Lexus actually denotes it SPORT—like that, in all caps—but, well, no.)
Where the non-Sport version of the LS 500 look like sleek and elegant sports sedans, the F SPORT looks like it want to eat the road for breakfast. How the front grille is set back accentuates the pointy bits of body that form the front end's shape. The over-sized side inlets flare out, making the whole front end feel like the open mouth on The Predator. This is a good thing. This car should be eating asphalt and spitting it out.
Lexus did put a lot of work into the grille. Their attention to detail is unrelenting. This is from their press release about how the grille was designed.
Lexus designers didn’t hold back when giving the LS 500 its coupe-like silhouette and dramatic rendition of the Lexus signature spindle grille that shows even greater intricacy in the design. Developing the F SPORT grille took computer-aided design (CAD) operators some five months to achieve the desired texture and interaction with light. Even then, they adjusted 7,100 individual surfaces to achieve the desired look and texture (compared to 5,000 for the standard model’s grille).
I love that they did that. I'm sorry that I think it looks like the mandible of a monster from space; but it does. And I like it.
The F SPORT is powered by an all-new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine which sends 415 hp through what sounds like a very complicated 10-speed automatic gearbox. Lexus explains it in a very elegant manner.
It is a torque-converter automatic, yet with shift times that rival those of dual-clutch transmissions. The wide bandwidth afforded by ten closely spaced ratios is ideal for all forms of driving, helping to provide an optimal gear for all conditions.
Shifting via paddles is available, yet many will prefer the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s input. The system chooses the ideal ratio by monitoring the acceleration, braking and lateral-g forces.
For starting acceleration, the close ratios of the low gears and the shortened shift time enable a rhythmical and exhilarating acceleration feel. The high torque of the twin-turbo engine matches ideally with the higher gear ratios for effortless, serene highway cruising, yet very quick downshifts yield direct acceleration with no lag in G response.
When you hit the gas, this 17-foot-long sedan will go. And it will go fast. That engine and gearbox will get you from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. That's quick. Sure you won't beat the new Dodge Demon to 60 mph, but you won't have to. The LS 500 F SPORT can turn both left and right quite comfortably, as well as quickly. I'll let Lexus explain their Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management. It's all very complicated, but that it is what Lexus does best.
The new VDIM system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility, and allows for enriched flat vehicle posture during cornering as well as a more comfortable and stable ride overall.
With the LS 500 F Sport, you can get the F Sport Handling Package to go with all of this engineering magic. That package includes Lexus Dynamic Handling (Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Active Rear Steering), Active Stabilizer, and sport-tuned air suspension with rapid height function. The car also come with larger brakes so that it will stop when you are done being F SPORTy.
The result of all this, Lexus says, is "a full-size premium luxury sedan that responds more like a sports coupe through curves, helping to underline what F SPORT stands for." I'll take Lexus' word on that. If the LS 500 F Sport drives half as well as Lexus explains things, this car should be a blast to drive.