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A Lexus in Wolf's

A Lexus in Wolf's


Well-known for its impeccably built luxury cars, Lexus now wants to wear racing stripes

In the quest for a more youthful glow, Lexus is gunning for the best performance names in the business--namely, the BMW M3 and Audi RS 4--with its powerful new IS F performance sedan. Based on the IS sedan, the IS F is a scrappy 416-horsepower terror designed to hug the curves, banish slow-moving obstacles, and generally put a smile on the face of anyone lucky enough to own one.

Driving the IS F is like seeing Cher live in concert: You just had to be there. Few words can convey the giddy feeling of being rocketed to 60 miles per hour in under 5 seconds, or rounding a hairpin turn at double the posted speed limit without breaking a sweat (or a nail). Power comes from velvety-smooth 5.0-liter V8 engine, and although no manual transmission is offered, the IS F's eight-speed automatic (that's nearly double the gears in most transmissions) includes steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which means you don't need NASCAR hottie Danica Patrick's driving skills to enjoy this car.

Unlike the subdued styling displayed by Audi and BMW, the IS F wears a bold exterior ripped straight from the popular car-racing video games of the day. With its bulging V-shaped aluminum hood, quad-stacked chrome tailpipes, and futuristic body kit, the IS F is a definite standout. The question is, like tongue piercing and shaved chest hair, will the car's hip looks quickly become yesterday's news? At least the interior won't get tired, since it has been given a set of body-hugging sport seats (available in black or black with alpine-white inserts), carbon fiber trim, and optional 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system specifically tuned to compensate for the IS F's slightly noisy interior.

Is the IS F a BMW M-killer? Not quite yet. But its eye-popping style and sterling Lexus reputation should have the Germans worried; it's certainly sweet enough to get style-conscious gay America to embrace a hot Asian boy-racer.

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Joe Tralongo