Normally, when you watch the dashboard of a car lapping the Nurburgring, the speedo is the one that can get scary. However, in the case of this Lexus IS F, which attacked the Nordschleife this fall, it’s the odometer that may have the driver wondering what’s going on. That’s because the car had 439,500 km or 273,000 miles at the time.
Lexus didn’t simply introduce the IS F back in 2007 (the car went on sale in the US and Europe in 2008 and was produced through 2014). Instead, Toyota’s luxury brand was looking to establish a name in the go-fast business at the time. So this compact performance sedan was the first-ever Lexus F model, while its debut was accompanied by the prototype for the iconic LFA V10 supercar.
The IS F ushered in the 2UR-GSE, a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 that outlived the model, being present in multiple hot models the brand offers nowadays. These range from the RC F to non-Fs like the LC 500 and, the successor of the IS F, which is the IS 500 (here it is drag racing a Dodge Charger 392).
This is an all-alloy DOHC, and while it is related to previous Lexus V8s, it sports Yamaha-designed cylinder heads and enough advanced technology to remain relevant in today’s market.
No Toyota got the 2UR-GSE, at least not for the street—this V8 proved its mettle in the Hilux Dakar Racing Truck until last year, though.
The inevitable Lexus IS F vs. E90 BMW M3 comparison
Sure, the IS F is more of a grand tourer than a sharp track day tool. But it’s a Lexus, so that comes by design—if you’re looking for something to complain about, those badass (but fake) vertically-stacked quadruple exhaust tips, are the usual target.
That razor’s edge role arguably goes to the BMW M3. And, for the 2007-2014 production years of the first-gen IS F, the M3 had its only generation with a V8, the E90 sedan (plus E92 Coupe and E93 Convertible).
The M car came with either a six-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch, while the Lexus was offered exclusively with an eight-speed automatic featuring paddle shifters. Interestingly, the gearbox seems to deliver respectable shifting during the Ring blitz, but we’ll get to this part below.
However, while the reliability of the IS F is one of its strong points, we can’t say the same about its German rival. That’s because the S65 V8 of the M3 is plagued by failing rod bearings and throttle actuators, which seem to be random occurrences rather than coming at a certain mileage.
If you’re looking for examples with proper maintenance and… five-figure mileage, both the E90 M3 and the Lexus IS F sit around the $30,000 mark.
Having established what the Lexus IS F is and isn’t, we can get back to this early 2008 example which, if you’ll excuse the cliche, has been to the moon and done a part of the way back.
More importantly, its owner decided to place Nurburgring’s resident YouTuber, Misha Charoudin, behind the wheel for a hot lap. And there was no babying the machine—since we mentioned that Mopar above, here’s Misha manhandling such a Charger on the Ring.
The half-a-million km IS F features a few key mods
The vlogger, who has done his fair share of trips around the Green Hell over multiple years, takes us for a quick walkaround of the vehicle together with the owner before unleashing the 416 hp (423 PS) of that N/A V8 onto the track.
And this is how we find out that the only major servicing operation received by the Lex was a timing chain replacement at 200,000 km (124,000 miles), which seems only natural.
The Japanese four-door has been gifted with a few aftermarket treats, which come in handy at the track. Starting from the outside, we have OZ Racing Ultraleggera wheels shod in Nankang AR-1 rubber, which conceal brakes coming from Japanese specialist Endless (rememeber the infamous Endless S15 Silvia 9s drag car that is now a Liberty Walk show car in the UK?). Oh, and there’s a moderately-sized wing adorning the posterior of the Lexus.
More importantly, as the owner explains, the suspension was custom-built by somebody who works for KW and uses the German specialist’s hardware. And, as Misha discovers once he gets used to the car, the somewhat soft setup is perfectly suitable for the, well, three-dimensional playground that is the Nordschleife. Oh, and while we’re on this topic, you should know the Nurburgring is now closed for the winter. And, if the previous years are any indicator, it will get certain updates before opening its gates for 2023 in the spring.
Stepping inside, the rear seat has been removed, while the Recaro Pole Position bucket seats up front are accompanied by multi-point harnesses.
Now, if this video makes you want to hit the used vehicle market in search of IS-Fs, you should know this is quite rare (unlike the M3), with just 11,000 cars having been built.