Depreciation Appreciation: 2008-2014 Lexus IS F

Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at autoTRADER.ca dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used-car deal.

This month, we’re looking at a potent little rocket-sedan from Lexus, brimming with Japanese-engineered performance that challenged comparable models from BMW’s M division and the AMG branch of Mercedes-Benz. The Lexus IS F launched for model year 2008, bringing the brand’s “F” sub-designation into existence in the form of a high-performing Lexus IS variant.

This four-door will accommodate four adults and seeks to thrill discerning driving enthusiasts with its track-validated chassis and powertrain.

Note that as a Lexus, residual values for a car like the IS F are relatively high – and though depreciation hasn’t axed the prices on this particular model as much as some competitors, Lexus reliability and the promise of a no-nonsense ownership experience add big appeal to the IS F as a used-ride buy that you needn’t be horrified to own once the warranty expires.

Translation? Used IS F appeal comes from equal parts depreciation, and owner confidence.

The Sticky

Drivers can expect 0–100 km/h times of under 5 seconds, thanks to a specially developed and highly tuned 5.0-litre V8 that delivers 416 horsepower and 371 lb-ft of torque. Advanced Dual Variable Valve Timing ensures optimal power delivery at all times while maximizing efficiency. An active air intake system boosts high rpm power and sound output; and a direct ignition system and numerous high-performance components ensure the Lexus “F” V8 powerplant is ready to perform at any prod of the throttle.

Put on some sticky tires and head to a track day, and this little beast is ready to perform, all day long. In the hands of a skilled track-day driver, the IS F is thrilling, agile, and highly capable. Best of all, if you opt for one in a plain colour like white or sliver, your IS F will slip by in traffic, and right past your local radar cop, with little more attention than a family Camry.

All models got an eight-speed automatic with paddle-shift control, and featured various drive modes that tailored various vehicle systems to current conditions and driver intentions.

Approximate New Value

At launch for model-year 2008, the IS F commanded a starting price of no less than $64,400, and numerous optional packages with additional equipment pushed that figure even higher. Pricing crept up over the years, with base pricing in 2011 landing around $70,000, and base pricing in 2014 landing at the better part of $74,000. Call this one a $70,000 car for most of its lifespan.

Approximate Used Value

Looking for a 400-plus horsepower, world-class sports sedan for about the same price as a nicely loaded Altima? A used IS F has your back. Numerous copies, like this and this, can be had today for half their original value, typically at well under 10 years old, and with highly reasonable mileage. Spend a few bucks more on a unit like this one, and you’re in a seven-year-old model with just 36,000 kilometres on the clock – for well under $40,000. If you’re comfortable with higher miles on a slightly older unit, copies like this, with a tick over 100,000 kilometres on the clock, are available for under $30,000, all day long.

And remember folks – this is a Lexus – meaning it’s a potent performer that won’t give you much trouble, providing you care for and maintain it properly.

Test Drive Tips

Though the IS F looks like one of the most reliable rocket-sedans in recent history, there are a few things to note.

First, approach a used model assuming it needs new tires, new brakes, new spark plugs, and all fluid changes, until you or a mechanic prove otherwise. Any fluid that you can’t prove is still within its service life should be changed. Do not stretch service intervals or fluid-change intervals on a car like the Lexus IS F.

Have a Lexus mechanic inspect the water pump for signs of leakage, and to confirm coolant level and condition. Evidence of a water pump leak and/or low coolant levels could indicate that the water pump will soon need replacement.

Confirm that the battery and charging system are healthy, particularly if you note any electronics-related issues, warning lights, or error messages. Numerous owners have reported shorter-than-expected life from the factory battery.

Note that hard or clumsy shifting from the transmission could be a sign of low fluid levels within this component, and that any unwanted clunking, banging, or slamming sensations from beneath the car could be a sign of worn-out suspension components. Some owners figure that the IS F’s shocks have a lifespan of about 100,000 kilometres – though many factors can affect the durability and lifespan of this component.

The Verdict

The IS F’s potent performance, reasonable pricing, and above-average looking reliability make a healthy used copy an appealing buy for shoppers after affordable access to world-class performance.

Lexus’s original F-Bomb is a compelling used buy.