Lexus in North America has whipped the covers off its new IS500 F Sport Performance model, which upgrades to V8 power.

Based on the latest version of the rear-driven sedan, the IS500 adopts the Japanese firm’s naturally aspirated 5,0-litre V8 engine, which delivers 352 kW at 7 100 r/min and 536 N.m at 4 800 r/min. The IS500 employs the same eight-speed automatic transmission as the IS300 and IS350.

Lexus claims the newcomer will hit 100 km/h from standstill in a shade over 4,5 seconds, while benefiting from “performance enhancements” such as a “throaty” quad exhaust system with dual stacked tailpipes.

Billed as the first model in the new Lexus F Sport Performance line, the IS500 is technically not a full-fat “F” derivative (is a more extreme IS F on the way?). Interestingly, the new model appears to have been conceived exclusively for the North American market.

The IS500 ships standard with the automaker’s dynamic handling package, which includes adaptive variable suspension and a Torsen limited slip differential. A Yamaha rear performance damper set-up has been added as well, while the uprated braking system includes 356 mm front and 323 mm rear discs.

If you don’t happen to hear it coming, what’s the easiest way to identify the new IS500? Well, it gains a raised bonnet (replete with “character lines”), a lengthened front bumper, model-specific 19-inch “Enkei” alloy wheels, a revised lower rear diffuser accent, dark-chrome window trim and a black rear lip spoiler.

Inside, you’ll find black “F Sport Performance” badging on the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and door-sill plates.