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Used Lexus ISF review: 2008-2013

2008 Lexus IS F

Mr Zo is interested in buying a used Lexus ISF, but because they are quite expensive he wants to be careful and know what he's getting into. He wants to know about common problems, servicing expenses, and the cost of parts etc.

The F is to the IS what the M3 is to the BMW 3-Series. It's the seriously quick model that gives a tinge of credibility to the rest of the range.

Since beginning with a single luxury model in the 1990s Lexus has grown into the fully-fledged prestige marque that holds its own with the acknowledged prestige brands from Europe.

Like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class the IS gives the masses the opportunity to participate in the dream, or at least aspire to be part of it.

Much of the development of the IS was done on racetracks around the world. Indeed the F is said to stand for Fuji, the Japanese track where much of it was carried out. The result is a car with real sports credentials.

One look at the compact sedan tells you it's conceived for speed, with a wide airdam, sweeping lines, and bulging wheel arches full of massive alloy wheels, low profile rubber and huge brakes.

The sporting feel carries through to the stylish cabin with its real sports seats, carbon-fibre accents, leather trim and F badges.

But it not only looks the part, it has the performance to back it up.

Lift the bonnet and you discover the dual-injected double-overhead camshaft 5.0-litre V8 that delivers the punch. It's related to the V8 in the LS luxury saloon, but has been enlarged and enhanced with unique heads, conrods, pistons, intake and exhaust. With all that working in unison the result is 311kW at 6600 rpm and 505Nm at 5200 rpm.

A new 8-speed auto transmission processes the engine's output and sends it back to the rear wheels. It features paddles on the steering wheel to change gears and boasts quick-fire shifting.

In addition to the normal driving modes there's the F sports mode, which locks the torque convertor in second to eighth gears and changes the throttle characteristics, steering assistance and chassis settings.

The IS F brought a new feeling of freedom to the otherwise staid Lexus brand, one with an impressive performance edge heralded by a throaty roar.

Lexus has a well-earned reputation for the quality of its build, which is a great start to a long and reliable life of driving.

There is the odd report of a problem with the IS F, but there are no serious problems we can report.

If pressed some owners complain about the firm ride, but that comes with the territory, the F is a performance car and the suspension settings reflect that.

For anyone contemplating buying one it's important that they carry out a test drive to thoroughly familiarise themselves with all aspects of the car and reassure themselves they can live with it.

The one issue that does often crop is the life of the brakes. Again that is one of the things that can affect a performance car, and it seems that it does with the IS F. Most owners accept that it's a part of the ownership experience. When conducting a pre-purchase test-drive listen for squeaking rear brakes, it's a sign the brakes will soon need replacing.

Like all cars servicing is crucial to maintaining reliability, and regular oil and filter changes are necessary to help keep the engine firing in fine fettle.

Check the service book to make sure your potential purchase has been serviced as per the Lexus recommendation.

There was a recall in October 2014 to rectify an issue with the gasket between the fuel pressure sensor and fuel delivery pipe that could result in a fuel leak with the possibility of a fire.


Year Price From Price To
2013 $13,300 $49,500
2012 $12,500 $43,890
2011 $11,600 $40,700
2010 $10,000 $40,480
2009 $9,100 $38,610
2008 $8,000 $33,110

View all Lexus IS pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

IS250 Prestige 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,000 – 12,320 2008 Lexus IS 2008 IS250 Prestige Pricing and Specs
IS250 Sports 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $9,200 – 13,860 2008 Lexus IS 2008 IS250 Sports Pricing and Specs
IS250 Sports Luxury 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $10,600 – 15,620 2008 Lexus IS 2008 IS250 Sports Luxury Pricing and Specs
IS250 X 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $11,500 – 16,830 2008 Lexus IS 2008 IS250 X Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist


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