Redesigned for 2014, the Lexus IS350 F Sport is an aggressively-styled, sporty sedan designed for those who want some driving involvement along with a luxurious interior and four doors. Beginning with Lexus’ trademarked “Spindle Grille,” the 2014 IS350 F Sport is full of bold, distinctive, and polarizing design cues. Some will no doubt hate the compound recessed headlights and elongated, down-swept taillights, while others will find them interesting and attractive. Personally, I found the front end to be confusing and visually busy and thought the headlights looked a little like some kind of alien space bugs. From about the A-pillar back, though, the design is excellent, with fluid motion lines extending upwards from bottom of the front wheel arch to the corners of the taillights.
The interior is likewise heavily styled. The quality of materials and design is improved over last year’s model, with real aluminum trim and real leather on the dash cover and seats.
Our “Silver Lining Metallic” test car came with the optional F Sport package, which added distinctive wheels, stiffer springs and dampers, Lexus’ adaptive variable suspension and a “Sport +” mode for the 8-speed automatic transmission. In addition, the F Sport package spruces up the interior with sportier seats and a TFT instrument cluster reminiscent of the gauges in the LFA Supercar.
The 2014 revamp of the IS line represents part of Lexus’ attempt to shed an image defined by reliable, comfortable beige sedans, and to attract younger buyers who are interested in performance and driving fun. To that end, the 2014 IS350 F Sport features a stiff suspension, an 8-speed transmission capable of adjusting shift-points based on lateral g-forces, and a “mini LFA” instrument panel.
The IS350’s engine is largely the same as the one that powered last year’s car. It’s rated by the EPA at 22 mpg overall, and we saw an average of 21.4 mpg in mixed driving. Though that’s not excellent, it’s about average for a car in this class with a V6 motor, and matches the economy of the Infiniti Q60 and G37s.
Wrapped in distinctive, odd styling, the 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport remains a competent and comfortable sedan, though whether its sporting qualifications can revamp Lexus’ image remains to be seen.