Lexus' F Sport cars bring the LFA supercar's DNA down to earth

Credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE

I've driven hundreds of hours in the Lexus LFA — in the Xbox 360 driving simulator game Forza 4, of course. As near-perfect as the sim is, it's still nothing compared to riding in the real-deal LFA.

Until last week, the closest I had ever even gotten to an LFA was at the New York Auto Show. But even there, the LFA's slick curves and carbon fiber body just sits there stationary, on a convention floor — lifeless.

You really don't need me to tell you the LFA is a gorgeous supercar with one of the most satisfying-sounding engines thanks to tuning from Yamaha's music division. And you certainly don't need me to tell most of you that it's a vehicle you won't find at your local car dealership.

For the 1 percent that can afford to own an LFA, congrats. For the rest of us, we can either dream, or consider Lexus' F Sport vehicles.

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F Sport, for the uninitiated, is Lexus' lineup of high-performance cars — consumer vehicles designed with inspiration from the LFA.

From the LS F, IS F and GS F sedans to the CT hatchback to the IS C F coupe and RX F SUV (we didn't test drive these two), this year there are six F Sport models to pick from — each one tuned for a different driving experience. Each of Lexus' F Sport vehicles also have different driving modes: normal, sport, and sport+.

We've already detailed the sweet tech in the 2014 IS 250, IS 350 and F Sport sedans a few weeks ago, so we won't repeat it again here. We also won't wax poetic again on the sweet aggressive front grill and sporty interiors. Here are the main details of all the new F Sport models:

LS F Sport: As part of the Lexus' top tier, the LS F Sport has a 4.6-liter V8 engine, 388 horsepower and 19 mpg rating. It simply oozes of luxury, especially when it comes to the 19-inch alloy wheels and optional Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system. Price: $72,140.

GS F Sport: Lexus calls the GS family its "new face". The GS blends the best of the LS with contours that would satisfy any Lexus stalwart. Available in RWD and AWD models, the GS F Sport can easily tackle the track with its 3.5-liter V6 engine, 306 horsepower and 23 mpg performance. Price: $52,940.

IS F Sport: With bold aerodynamic designs that invoke a futuristic aesthetic we haven't seen in affordable luxury cars in a long time, the IS F 250 and 350 F Sport sedans are this year's showstoppers. The 250 IS F Sport has a 2.5 liter V6, while the 350 F Sport has a beefier 3.5-liter V6. Horsepower on the 250 F Sport is capped at 204 and on the 350 F Sport at 306. The 350 F Sport is perfect for those with an need for speed, but the 250 F Sport has slightly better combined fuel economy at 24 mpg and 23 mpg (RWD and AWD), compared to the 350 F Sport's 22 mpg and 22 mpg (RWD and AWD). Price: $39,415.

CT F Sport: The CT F Sport hatchback is one of the most fun-to-drive F Sport vehicles, despite its lower specs. It has a 1.8-liter engine, 134 horsepower, and 42 combined mpg, which is the highest out of all of the F Sport cars. Price: $33,050.

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So, which of these models has the most LFA DNA? While all of the F Sport vehicles in Lexus' lineup certainly have inspirations from the slick LFA, no one individual car matches the F's top racer in terms of design or performance. (The IS 350 F Sport's awesome animated instrument cluster ripped right out of the LFA makes it a frontrunner, though.) The sum of all six F Sport cars would come close, but alas, that's not how things work. It's not like the cars are pieces of Voltron.

That's not a terrible thing, though. While video games give you the illusion that driving an LFA is easy, in real life, things are entirely different. I would know, since I rode shotgun in an LFA with racing champ Scott Pruett on a portion of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway at over 100 miles per hours.

The F Sport high-performance cars provide that rush, excitement and premium feeling that's associated with the LFA, but at an affordable level. And that's exactly what Lexus is going for. Not to sound cheesy, but it's the thrill of the ride — the need for speed, if you will — that makes the F Sports so exciting. After all, not everyone can drop $375,000 on an LFA.

(All photos by Raymond Wong for DVICE.)

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