The name is long. The order list is short. We got a first look at the new 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance model barely a month ago. Now, the Japanese luxury brand is adding a special Limited Edition package of which just 500 will be produced.
For those who like the idea of having unique features — like the personalized number plate on the center console — the good news is that all 500 of the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Launch Edition models will be earmarked “exclusively for North America.”
“Standing apart from the standard IS 500, the 2022 IS 500 Launch Edition interior builds upon Takumi craftsmanship with elevated interior materials, including sporty two-tone Black & Gray Ultrasuede trimmed front and rear seats, door accents, and center console,” Lexus said in a statement.
Other special features include silver ash wood details on the otherwise leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as updates to the instrument cluster. Now, when you’re sedan wakes up, the version of the IS spinning on the digital display will be a Launch Edition “to further set this model apart from the standard IS 500,” Lexus explained.
Taking the green flag
The Launch Edition made its debut Friday evening in Sebring, just hours before the start of the annual 12-hour race there. It’s an appropriate venue.
The IS has played a significant role for Lexus, helping adding a little adrenaline to its image of solid but stodgy design and performance. The first Lexus F model was an upgraded IS launched in 2008 and featured a 416-horsepower V-8.
When the prior-generation Lexus IS debuted, some fans feared the automaker was taking a step back. replacing the V-8 with a respectable but nowhere near as impressive 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 311 hp. For 2022, the IS 350 jumped to 350 hp and 311 lb-ft. A nice increase, but still nowhere near past F Sport numbers.
Lexus had a surprise in store
It turns out the brand was only holding the big news in reserve. Last month, it said it would “dial up the sports sedan formula to eleven,” with the debut of the new IS F Sport. It marked the return of the V-8, punching out a hefty 472 hp, or 122 more than the turbo-6 in the 2021 IS F Sport Performance edition.
And this is just a hint of what’s to come from the brand. Lexus last month said this is “the first model in the new Lexus F Sport Performance line.” It appears the marque is getting ready to take direct aim against the likes of Mercedes-AMG and BMW M.
The 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance gains only 143 pounds when compared with the IS 350 F Sport. So, the boost in performance should be notable. Lexus claims the Performance model will hit 60 in 4.5 seconds, a full 1.1 seconds quicker than the IS 350.
Straight line acceleration is just part part of the picture. To handle the curves, the IS 500 Performance model comes standard with the Dynamic Handling Package now available as an option on the IS 350 F Sport. That includes an adaptive suspension and Torsen limited-slip differential. The chassis also gets a new Yamaha rear performance damper.
To scrub off speed, the Performance model’s brakes are upgraded, as well, with larger 14-inch two-piece aluminum front rotors and 12.7-inch rotors in the rear.
Visually, the IS 500’s hood has been raised by nearly 2 inches and gets more distinctive character lines in Performance trim. The front bumper and fenders also have been stretched to handle the big V-8. There’s also a new, rear diffuser framing the sedan’s quad exhaust, dark chrome window trim, and a black rear lip spoiler.
The top model comes with exclusive 19-inch split-10-spoke Enkei alloy wheels that shave about 6 pounds off total vehicle weight.
More to come
Going forward, all Lexus Performance models will feature unique black badging to distinguish them from standard F models.
Inside, look for similar black badging on the heated leather steering wheel and door sill plates. And the gauge cluster will feature unique animation.
Like other IS models, the IS 500 Performance and Performance Launch Edition models will get a number of upgrades to the Lexus advanced driver assistance technology. Among other things, the Forward Collision Warning system now will have greater range and will be able to detect a potential head-on collision when turning left.
Lexus won’t reveal pricing until closer to the on-sale date of the Performance and Launch Edition models next autumn. The current, 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport starts at $42,900. Expect to see the number jump for the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport, especially if you’re considering either the Performance or Launch Edition models.