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The 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance is effectively today’s spiritual successor to the 2008 Lexus IS F. The cars share nearly the same engine and platform, but while the old car was dubbed a full-fledged “F” product (something like the Lexus equivalent of BMW M or Mercedes-AMG) the new one’s something else. My curiosity burned as I studied the specifications of the IS 500 and I had to know — just how closely related are these cars, really? Lucky for me, I have a friend with an IS F. So we made a video… lucky for you!

What we did find wasn’t startling, but it was extremely welcome. You see, the IS F is built on an old Toyota platform called the N platform, which predated the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). For those of us in the United States, the N platform formed the skeleton of the second Lexus IS called XE20, the fourth-generation Lexus LS called XF40, and the third-generation Lexus GS called S190. For the rest of the world, it was used on the extremely cool and Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) legit Toyota Mark X, the Toyota Crown, and Majesta, and was weirdly revived for the newest V8 Toyota Century.

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Around 2012, Toyota updated the N platform into the New N platform with relatively minor but significant revisions. It wasn’t until we got the IS 500 in a garage did I finally see what the “New” in New N really meant. I honestly thought the revisions were more minor than what I witnessed under the new V8 brute, but as you’ll see in the clip, there was real work done. 

The original N platform on the old IS F used a lot of stamped steel control arms and stamped steel subframes. New N uses a fully forged aluminum front suspension with the same geometry as the old car and a relatively radical redesign of the rear suspension. According to Savagegeese, the aluminum front subframe is carried over from the now-dead GS and is only available on the IS 500.

The most striking change to me is the separation of the spring and damper on New N, which is primarily a trunk space and packaging decision with benefits to suspension travel and ride quality. The old IS F has a short damper, while the IS 500 has a much longer damper, which is a clear benefit when you feel the impressive ride quality of the IS 500. Speaking of dampers, the suspension tuning of the IS 500 is unique to it.

Although the hardware changes are worth a lot for anyone who likes modding their cars, the real step change of the IS 500 is that it is one of the first Lexus products to get dynamically tested and signed-off on the new Shimoyama test track in Japan. It’s part of an initiative by Lexus to give its cars a Lexus Driving Signature, a cohesive feel across all products. 

So my original hypothesis of this car being a mild refresh is soundly incorrect. This car has been tweaked and re-engineered in a meaningful way and is the start of a new era of Lexus products. When it comes down to IS F versus IS 500, that is a much tougher question to answer. 

Watch our video and find out how Peter Nelson and I feel about the two wonderful naturally aspirated V8 sport sedans. We may even have an answer for you at the end. At $56,000 starting, the IS 500 presents a mighty strong argument.

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