Story by Benjamin Greene
Originally published by Dupont Registry: http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/blog/post/2011/04/26/Quick-Spin-2011-Lexus-IS-250-F-Sport.aspx
Branding is a large part of marketing. Corporations want their name or logo to stand for something in people’s minds. If a company fails to brand itself correctly, it could ultimately fail. For instance, Xerox tried to buy its way into the computer business in the early 70s with a completely new slogan for a new line of products: "Office of the Future." The problem was that when office managers thought of the name Xerox, they thought (and still think) printers and copiers, not computers. This branding error is part of the reason why Xerox fled the computer business a short half-decade later.
We don’t think Lexus has put itself in a precarious position with the 2011 Lexus IS 250 F Sport package. In fact, we were excited to see the Ultrasonic Blue F-badged Lexus sitting outside our front doors. The problem is, upon first glance, we believed we were getting our hands on the IS F and not the least-powerful car in the IS lineup. Lexus just introduced the F Sport brand for the new decade and it is already watering down its image with cars undeserving of such a badge.
That is not to say the IS 250 F Sport package is a bad car. In fact, it is a very good car. Despite the bit-meager-for-this-class 204-hp 2.5-liter V-6, the car provides decent pep. Lexus quotes a zero-to-60 mph time of 7.9 seconds, which although not fast or even quick, it is enough to get you up to speed when entering traffic (so long as haste isn't key). On paper, the IS 250 appears to have the right numbers to do well in corners as well: a low curb weight of 3,400 pounds, a 52/48 front-to-rear weight distribution, rear-wheel drive, F Sport-tuned suspension and steering, and 225/40YR-18 tires on the front wheels and 255/40YR-18 tires at the rear. Road impressions show that the IS does master the road in some aspects. It has solid grip, the steering has good weight, and it shows some agility in its steps. It does understeer, but our main niggle is that, although it doesn’t feel disconnected, the IS doesn’t exactly feel connected either. It has to do with feeling of isolation that the Lexus brand is so well known.
The interior of the Lexus IS 250 F Sport is normal Lexus IS, except with new seats and a few F Sport badges. We found the seats to be comfortable with good lateral support. The special heated seats (a feature we only use to prank others here in Florida) feature a special microfiber insert and leather side bolsters to provide better grip during cornering. We did have a problem with the shifter and its exposed metal, which got extremely hot in the Florida sun.
The F Sport package is new for 2011. A front lip spoiler, rear deck spoiler, blackened chrome grille insert, 18-inch wheels, and small F Sport badges just forward the front doors distinguishes it from regular IS sedans. It is a must-buy for driving enthusiasts that are smitten with the IS, even if it feels out of place on the base model.