On April 2009
, we wrote that, "The German carmakers have recognized that the art of offering performance upgrades to their sports sedans can no longer be a one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter approach. Audi has been the most adept at recognizing this, offering S-line, S and RS variants of increasing capabilities and cost. Mercedes-Benz offers AMG bodywork, suspension and wheel packages in addition to full-on AMG models, while BMW has opted to offer a line of Performance accessories to bridge the gap between their regular and M models. It is the latter approach that Lexus has echoed with their F-Sport accessory line." That has certainly been the case in the U.S. and Canada, where the F-Sport badge has been applied to a line of aftermarket suspension, brake, wheel, intake/exhaust, clutch/shifter and decorative items. For the 2010 model year, however, a number of markets will start offering F-Sport models of the Lexus IS that are more akin to the S-line versions of a number of Audi models that package a sport suspension with unique wheels, grilles and body kits plus sport seats and steering wheels. Picture, if you will, the defunct-for-2010 Lexus IS X-Package kicked up a notch or two or, more accurately, a Lexus IS with trickle-down cosmetic
IS F goodness.
Lexus IS 220d F-Sport and IS 250 F-Sport for Europe
On 1 September 2009, a Lexus Europe official Press Release
informed us of the carmaker's debuts for the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show later that month. The highlight, of course, was the debut of the LF-Ch concept
, and the big production news was the unveiling of the Lexus LS mid-term facelift (including a new LS 460 2WD Sports version) plus an unexpected series of revisions to the 2010 Lexus GS (most notably a Lexus HS-flavored grille for the GS 450h). The IS itself also rated a mention in the Frankfurt Press Release. Talk of "navigation and audio system upgrades" and "IS F now available with Limited Slip Differential" was, of course, old news
, but word of "a new F Sport trim package" wasn't. Adding to the intrigue was the release of a photo that, at a glance, appeared to be nothing more than a 2009/2010 Lexus IS 250 with the accessory ISP Mode (or Hoshi, as they're known in Great Britain) 18" wheels. A closer look at enlarged versions of the photo revealed that the old-mannish vertical upper grille bars had been replaced by the IS F's far more appealing vertical zig-zag pattern within the housing/frame of the 2009/2010 Lexus IS upper grille.
The IS 250 F-Sport page on the Lexus Europe website
, an article on the Lexus United Kingdom website's News & Events section
and the Lexus Europe Media Site inform us that the F-Sport package also includes the IS F rear lip spoiler (which sits higher and is a tad deeper than the optional IS V6 sedan rear lip spoiler) and, inside, receives the IS F's steering wheel (including the new-for-2010 blue leather-trimmed insert surrounding the "F" logo at the bottom), IS F front seats (seemingly in full black leather only) and, on the IS 250, the IS F shift lever. The cabin is complimented by a black ceiling lining and grey stitching detail on the front seats and steering wheel (described, in a veddy British manner as a bespoke, Black-on-Black interior colour scheme). Presumably, the 15mm (0.6") lower Sport Suspension is included as well.
The F-Sport package is available with both diesel (IS 220d) and petrol (IS 250) powertrains, although, curiously, the latter is only available in automatic transmission form. All IS sedan exterior colours will be available, this being the same 10 hues currently available in the United States plus the new Cattleya Purple, which, more than likely is the dark amethyst/gray-violet shade that is offered in the Japanese Domestic Market on 2010 IS V6 sedan and IS C models and bears the 9AL colour code. European dealers are already taking orders for delivery, at least in the United Kingdom, within the late autumn/December 2009 time frame.
Lexus IS 250 "version F" and IS 350 "version F" for Japan
The Japanese Domestic Market, too, gets its take on the F-Sport trim package, as, for 2010, the base, "version L" (Luxury Package) and "version S" (Sport Package) models are joined by a fourth "version F". Given this author's non-existent knowledge of the Japanese language, we can only surmise the "version F" features and contents by looking at the pictures and the stray Latin alphabet words and letters and Arabic numerals on the Lexus Japan website
. The IS F-patterned grille insert and rear spoiler are present and accounted for in the Japanese "version F" as well, but the wheels are the regular five V-spoke 18" wheels found on the majority of 2009 Lexus IS V6 sedans. And, no, your eyes are not deceiving you, all the pictures show the Lexus IS "version F" in Ultrasonic Blue Mica. Yes, that much-beloved-by-this-author hue is finally available on a V6-powered IS sedan, albeit only on "version F" in the Japanese Domestic Market. Other "version F" exterior colour choices are Matador Red Mica, Obsidian, Tungsten Pearl, Starfire Pearl and Smoky Granite.
Inside, the IS F-sourced "Version F" steering wheel is all-black as in '08-'09 IS Fs (and 2010s with the Terra Cotta and Black two-tone Interior) rather than blue and black two-toned as in the European IS F-Sport. The front seats are also from the IS F, but, in a twist, come standard in a black leather/alcántara combination reminiscent of the 1st-generation IS 300. Black full leather is also available, and the Euro F-Sport's black ceiling lining and grey stitching detail on the front seats and steering wheel are also apparent. Aluminum sport pedals and doorsill scuff plates complete the interior changes. "Version F" costs 240,000 yen (US$2599 at today's exchange rate) more than "Version S".
Lexus IS 250 F-Sport and IS 350 F-Sport for Canada
Quite surprisingly, our neighbours in the Great White North also get their own version of the F-Sport Package. In stark contrast to Europe and Japan, no photos have been released, but pricing and a fully detailed equipment list have. As is the case in Europe, the IS 250 F-Sport is only available with an automatic transmision. In fact, the F-Sport Package heralds the elimination of both the Sport Package and the X-Package from Canadian option lists for 2010 (more on that in an upcoming my.IS Front Page story). There's no need to mourn, however (unless you had your eye on an IS 250 Manual which, for 2010 offers no sport-oriented factory package), since the 2010 F-Sport Package simply adds the IS F-textured grille, rear spoiler, steering wheel and black leather front seats to the full contents of the 2009 Sport Package at no increase in price
versus last year's package price. We're talking a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $9850 Canadian for the IS 250 F-Sport Package and $6100 Canadian for the IS 350 F-Sport Package.
Unfortunately, the already-reduced colour palette for the Canadian market Lexus IS V6 sedans further dwindles on the F-Sport Package to Starfire Pearl, Smoky Granite Mica, Tungsten Pearl, Obsidian and Matador Red Mica. (In other words, the same exterior colour choices as the Japanese Domestic Market "version F" minus Ultrasonic Blue Mica).
What about the rest of the world?
A quick tour of Lexus' multiple national websites throughout Asia and other far-flung locales show little implicit interest in sporting, enthusiast-oriented models such as the IS F and F-Sport package, with the obvious exception of Australia (and, by extension, New Zealand). After all, we've written about their 2007
IS 250 X special editions and, of more relevance, the Lexus IS 250 Sports Concept
that debuted at the 2008 Sydney International Motor Show, which was nothing more than an IS 250 with the full suite of F-Sport accessories available in North America.
Unfortunately, as Marton Pettedy of Australia's GoAuto.com.au
informs us, the plan to offer the line of F-Sport parts Down Under ran afoul of Australian Design Rule certification. Yet, on 4 August 2009
he presciently wrote that "Instead of more modified suspension, wheels, brakes and a bodykit, the sportier IS250 will feature cosmetic revisions including a new grille, plus IS F-sourced interior enhancements such as a steering wheel and gear-shifter."
What about the United States?
As of this writing, there is no word on whether or not an F-Sport Package will be offered on IS 250 and IS 350 sedans in the United States, but, as this author climbs on his bully pulpit, consider this a plea on bended knee to offer an F-Sport Package in the United States. If adding the IS F grille texture, rear spoiler, steering wheel (preferrably two-tone like 2010 IS Fs and European F-Sports) and front seats means, unlike in Canada, an increase over the Sport Package Value Edition package's $3140 MSRP, we can accept that. Availability of an Ultrasonic Blue Mica exterior and a black leather/alcántara combination for the interior as in Japan would be very
desirable, to finally create a true spiritual successor to the 1st-generation IS 300. What do you say, Lexus USA?