The Lexus ISF is a top Japanese performer. Under the hood is a 5.0 liter V-8 cranking out 416 horsepower, and hooked to a slick 8-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel paddle shifters. 0-60 mph comes in at 4.6 seconds. The steering is quick, cornering ability excellent, and the brakes are strong. The interior is typical Lexus, with top quality materials and workmanship. Drawbacks? Well, the ride is stiff. Gas mileage is limited to 16-23 mpg. The price is high too, starting at $61,600. This one was optioned up, so it hit $66,405. So can the less expensive BMW 335 and Dodge SRT offer better performance at less cost?
The main BMW test car was a 328 model with turbo four-cylinder engine putting out 240 horsepower, 0-60 at 6.5 seconds and 22-36 mpg. Brisk enough, but not enough to compete, so a 335 model was obtained for a while (they both looked identical in these photos) with the six- cylinder turbo engine, 300 rated horsepower, and an 8-speed automatic. It did 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. In cornering, braking, and stability, the BMW and Lexus were tied. The Bimmer electric steering has very little feel, while the ISF feel was excellent. Also, the German car uses those horrible run-flat tires that destroy the ride comfort, and cost about $900 more for a set of four than conventional performance tires. No spare tire is provided either, but a compact one can be special ordered for $650. On a test road-trip, the gas mileage was 22-30mpg–33 on a long trip. The base price starts at $45,000 and can top out around $51,000–a big advantage in cost here. A bigger advantage in ride comfort is available if those run-flats are replaced also.
Next was the Dodge Charger loaded up with the SRT pack. Under the hood is a giant 6.4 liter rumbling V-8, cranking 470 horses and attached to a 5-speed automatic. This is the quickest and fanciest Dodge sedan ever made. The 0-60 time was 4.9 seconds. The SRT monster brake discs never faded, even with excessive stops. The steering was responsive, and cornering ability, while not as sharp as the other two, was darn good for this massive two-ton tank. This weight also drank lots of gas at 14-23 mpg. The interior has a computer system that controls suspension stiffness and tranny-shift behavior. A screen records cornering “G” forces and 0-60 times. All this surrounded in nice leather trim and special SRT seats. A fantastic car! Unfortunately, it comes with a fantastic price tag. The base SRT starts at $44,995. With adaptive cruise control (which sucks), upgraded sound system, sunroof, bigger tires, and a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax, the tab was $51,670–about the same as that loaded BMW 335!
There is no clear winner here. All three of these vehicles are hard to return, as they are too fun to drive. It all comes down to personal choice and all three are a good one.