I don’t know if people are even really interested in this sort of stuff, but hopefully a few of you will find it vaguely interesting. One of my jobs at DW is to blog stuff, and occasionally regular readers may notice it goes a little quiet for a couple of days – and the reason is I’m usually out of the office filming cars for various companies. I was hired a few months back by CAR Magazine to do a drifting film in Jaguar XF-R’s alongside Master Photographer Greg Pajo who is one of the most skilled photographers I’ve ever worked alongside, Ben Barry who is a dab hand M3 drifter and writer for CAR, and as an added I had a Lexus IS-F to take to Wales to make sure it was all dandy. So I guess it would be rude not to do a mini review.
The Lexus IS-F Gen2 is the BMW M3 in the Lexus garage, and it’s a got some good specs: A proper mechanical differential, track biased suspension, 8 gears (plus reverse) and and a 415bhp V8, which combined with it’s generous steering lock is all the ingredients you need to make a hilariously fun car to drive on a private empty wet track. So whilst we were setting up photo shots with the Jags, I set off on a sodden track and went for a skid.
Now I guess I’ve driven a few decent cars of this ilk and I can certainly report the car is certainly better suited to the track than the road – quite stiff ARB’s make bumps quite prominent and eight gears (yep, count them) is enormously frustrating when all it wants to do is constantly hunt for a new ratio when in full auto, even on flat motorways with cruise control – so on my epic drive up from DWHQ to Anglesey race track I set the sat nav for ‘Most Fun’ route (up the middle of Wales), smashed it into full manual, most aggressive engine and throttle map, and spent the next 3 hours grinning like an idiot.
The noise is good, really good – those four pipes DO make a very nice sound but the real joy is in the cabin. The way the car fills the space around your ears with a classic near-push-rod-esque V8 noise just adds to a fantastic on track experience. The car has a very decent amount of steering lock, and you can hold the car at more or less any angle you feel you want to try within reason, and the suspension just laps it up. I guess the big clue is the ‘F’ in the name, which stands for Fuji Raceway where the car is proven in Japan. The steering is excellent, great feedback and a really good turn in without being unstable – perfect for being a hooligan.
People have a very misguided view of newer cars if they’ve never had the opportunity to drive these machines in these enviroments – and the myth that new cars don’t let you have fun is totally untrue. Cars are better than they have ever been before, and manufacturers will always be battling with the silly emmisions laws and pedestrian impact protection etc, and despite all this – they still produce wonderful fun cars – the only difference is you need to be in the right place at the right time.
If you liked this post – let me know, and I’ll tell you about the two Jaguar XF-R’s which are even better… Perhaps Driftworks should start testing new cars based entirely on how much fun they are to sling round corners?
Thanks to Greg Pajo for the photos – they’re amazing.
And thanks to CAR Magazine and Ben Barry for letting me make this film!
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