Lexus' answer to the performance race has been unleashed in the form of the super hot IS-F.
The sport derivative of the IS sedan has just been launched at Japan's Fuji Speedway to Toyota's home market and other international markets are expected to get a dose of F-power soon. Is South Africa on that list?
While the "F" now denotes the sporting intentions of this baby Lexus, the designation (for "flagship") was first conceived about twenty years ago by Toyota insiders. They certainly have come a long way since then.
Powered by a 5.0-litre V8 engine producing around 300 kW and 474 Nm of torque, new IS-F will also be the first in its segment to feature an eight-speed direct sport-shift transmission, helping it achieve a 0-100 km/h of under five seconds.
Added to this, a torque converter lock-up control allows the engine's power to be relayed directly to the transmission from second gear all the way through eighth.
Advanced shift control ensures the requisite throttle blips are issued as you barrel towards the end of a straight, while paddle shifts on the steering wheel allow snap ups within a tenth of a second.
The IS-F is based on the proven rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS, which is equipped with a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension.
Stopping power for those big 19-inch forged aluminium alloys are with the help of cross-drilled front brakes with six-piston calipers.
Lexus' performance sedan is designed to take on the likes of Audi's RS4, BMW's M3 and Mercedes-Benz's C63 AMG, and with its wider stance and lower ride height this car looks every bit the super sedan fighter.
News from Japan is that Lexus plans to sell about 7 000 units of the car globally in 2008, with the US expected to get the bulk of the inventory.
Wheels24 awaits Lexus' response on when the IS-F is expected to hit South Africa.