New for ’09: Lexus IS-F

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Lexus IS-F

After conquering the luxury car market, grabbing market share from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and other upscale manufacturers, Lexus is now taking square aim at scaling the niche performance car market. The IS-F is a formidable start on the way to sparring with AMG and BMW’s M Series. It starts life as an IS sport sedan, which until now was available with either a 2.5-liter V-6 or 3.5-liter V-6. To create the IS-F, Lexus stuffed a 5.0-liter V-8 making 416 horsepower into the IS package, adding an eight-speed automatic gearbox. To make sure observers know is isn’t your grandpa’s Lexus, designers created a new nose, wider fenders and wicked looking dual quad exhaust tips. Brakes, suspension and interior upgrades are in keeping with the high-performance theme. The IS-F is priced at $56,000, which makes it a premium vehicle on par with the BMW M5. Fuel mileage is 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway.