Lexus has teased a new F Sport model by revealing just the engine cover. It could point to a new performance version of the 2021 Lexus IS, and a potential successor to the dearly departed IS F.
The image was obtained by Lexus Enthusiast, which pointed out that the carbon-fiber pattern cover is exactly the same shape as the one found shrouding the 5.0-liter V8 that powers the GS F and RC F. Good for 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque and a symphonic revving sound, the 2UR-GSE has traditionally been the heart of Lexus’s F performance line.
The teased cover, however, shows an “F Sport” badge where the GS F and RC F’s “F” badge once resided. That implies a car with stiffer sport suspension along with some of the styling of a full-blown F model, but not the full stable of horses under the hood.
Recently, Best Car magazine reported that Lexus was about to come out with a trio of F models. We think this engine cover is unlikely to preview an LC F, as the LC 500 is already powered by the 2UR-GSE, and wears a completely different engine cover. Also, an LC F would likely be turbocharged and thus don a different cover altogether.
While it’s possible that Lexus would drop the more powerful 2UR-GSE into the LS to give it a 73-horsepower bump over its current 394, that would imply an LS F model, not a simple F Sport. And besides, the LS already has an F Sport variant. The Best Car report also indicated that the LS F in the works, if it happens at all — and that’s a big “if” — would be propelled by a twin-turbo V8.
That leaves the new IS, which in its most powerful guise has a 3.5-liter V6 generating 311 horses and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s possible that rather the teased engine cover is foreshadowing an IS 500, a conclusion that Lexus Enthusiast also draws, albeit with slightly different reasoning.
An IS 500 would be one way for Lexus to squeeze as much use out of its marvelous 2UR-GSE before the V8 goes the way of the dodo, but without having to develop an all-out F model. The original IS F had, among other things, wider body panels, six-pot front brake calipers with cross-drilled rotors, and a Torsen LSD. By not calling an IS F, Lexus could be lowering expectations for enthusiasts of the original who would expect those performance features.
Or, if the V8 gods are listening, perhaps Lexus is saving the true F badge for an IS with the rumored twin-turbo powering the LC F. One can hope, right?