Pure V8 and proud: Lexus GS F road test and review
EXCITEMENT has traditionally been in short supply at Lexus.
The likes of Yukihiko Yaguchi, who brought us the rear-end-hauling V8-powered IS F, had to undertake his work outside traditional corporate boundaries. Shock horror, you could actually hear the chest-thumping engine wearing a Lexus badge.
That has provided the foundations for offerings such as the GS F. This large sedan added further fuel to the F division fire when it arrived in March 2016.
Further blood-pumping Lexus additions are about to be unveiled at the Detroit motor show in a few weeks' time: the LC luxury coupe powered by either a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid drivetrain or the familiar 351kW V8.
That's the same donk which powers the GS F. Starting from about $150,000, the derivative we sampled was closer to $170,000 once the aniline leather with polished alloys wheel and carbon touches boxes were ticked and the on-roads were paid.
A big investment for a fast Toyota.
There's a statement to get Lexus executives grinding teeth and owners cranky.
But there are advantages to having the close lineage to the mothership. Toyota has an outstanding reputation for quality and longevity...yet Lexus takes things to a new refinement level.
The cabins are ultra quiet and plush, and the GS F is no different.
With a noticeably firmer rider than the usual GS, with a range of changes to optimise rigidity, a special suspension package is combined with a wider body and tyres. In short, it's designed to corner, duck and dive without vomit-inducing cabin roll.
How does the V8 perform?
There's a beautifully symphonic soundtrack pumping from the 5.0-litre bent eight...it wasn't so long ago you could hardly hear any powertrain noise in a Lexus.
The standstill to 100kmh sprint is sub-five seconds, which puts it among prestigious territory. Feeling strong and burly you can punch the accelerator with rewarding results from about 4000rpm - yet it falls short of some true hairy-chested personality which inspires you to want to hit the track.
Brembo brake hardware does a stellar job when you need the anchors and collectively the GS F boasts impressive all-round dexterity.
Lexus and Toyota do have a tendency to get every extra last drop from its technology, so this V8 can be thirsty. Expect about 12 litres from every 100km.
What's the value proposition?
One of the constant Lexus benefits is standard kit. Included is the monstrous 12.3-inch central colour display, Alcantara trim with heated seats front and rear (leather is available for an extra $2900), four-mode drive select system, torque vectoring differential, 19-inch forged alloys, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio, tri-zone climate, head up display, heated steering wheel, sunroof and power rear sunshade.
Safety gear includes radar cruise control which maintains you a safe distance from the car in front, 10 airbags and functionality which helps avoid wandering from lanes.
What's the lowdown?
With lashings of luxury and impressive space front and rear, the GS F is more your grand tourer variety. It's not quite race-track inspiring as it lacks that extra turbo punch like a BMW M5 Pure ($185,000), Mercedes-AMG C 63 S ($154,510) or Audi S6 ($169,510) to really get the blood pumping.
Yet we still enjoyed out time within the performance sedan. You can really get it hustling into a bend and it maintains solid composure through a turn, all accompanied by a wonderful purist's V8 tune.
What matters most
What we liked: The V8 soundtrack, outstanding standard specification, ample cabin comfort.
What we'd like to see: Some extra mongrel to inspire some track work.
Model: Lexus GS F.
Details: Four-door rear-wheel-drive premium performance sedan.
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 generating maximum power of 351kW @ 7100rpm and peak torque of 530Nm @ 4800rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Consumption: 11.3 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 4.6 seconds, top speed 270kmh (limited).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $148,800 or $151,700 for higher grade model with ventilated semi-aniline leather seats.
Driving experience 16/20
Features and equipment 18/20
Functionality and comfort 18/20
Value for money 15/20
Style and design 15/20