What is it?
The GS-F is the fourth car to wear the F badge for Lexus.
First came the IS F in 2007, then the LFA supercar followed by the RC F coupe.
Make no mistake because this is the Lexus high performance range, in the same way that HS-V is to Holden (but not for much longer one suspects).
The high powered and equally high priced models are designed to take the fight up to the likes of Audi Sport, BMW’s M range and Mercedes AMG offerings.
We’ve driven all of the F models, including the million dollar LFA supercar on Japan’s esteemed Fuji Speedway – the place it takes the ‘F’ in its name from.
You can argue the toss whether these hard chargers are as quick or desirable as the German cavalry, but there’s no disputing the fact GS F is an exciting car to drive, with rear-wheel drive layout and beautifully smooth V8 – a combo that will appeal to purists.
What’s it cost?
Like we said they’re not cheap.
Prices for GS F start from $153,540, or $156,500 with full blown leather trim.
It might sound like a lot of dough, but it’s in fact a bargain compared with the price tags that some of its competitors carry.
There a few extras too, with seven enhancement packs from which to choose – although some are simply a combination of the others.
Fortunately, the car comes well equipped to start with so the list is not overly long and adds a relatively modest amount to the cost.
Our test vehicle scored the lot, adding $8360 to the price and bringing the grand total from $165K to $173,409 drive away.
The extra bits include carbon fibre trim, cooled as well as heated front seats and eye-catching red leather upholstery.
Polished alloys, instead of the “smoke” finish wheels, are $2625.
Standard kit includes a huge 12.3 inch display, three-zone climate air, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights with automatic high beam and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
We’ve had the opportunity to listen to many systems over the years and we rank the Levinson system right up there with the best.
What’s it like to drive?
The beauty of this car is that it can be all things to all people.
Driven sedately it’s a striking, luxury boulevard cruiser, with individual seating for four people, plenty of rear legroom and a biggish boot to match.
Turn up the wick when no one is looking and the thing springs to life, charging down the road at an alarming rate of knots, putting a smile on your dial with the promise of all the fun you can handle.
Punching from corner to corner, using the large gear change paddles for maximum control, it feels tight and responsive, with only the occasional niggle from the back under brakes – better in fact than its 1800 plus kilos might suggest.
I’d be the first to say it is not as focused or qs finely honed as its German competitors, but that hard edge can wear you down after a while – like trying to keep pace with an Olympic athlete.
The GS F on the other hand offers a softer, more alluring combination of luxury and performance – it’s a car that you could happily pilot 24/7.
With 351kW of power and 530Nm of torque, and revving to 7100 rpm, drive is to meaty rear Michelins through an 8-speed traditional auto, with four drive modes and sophisticated torque vectoring to improve corner grip.
With an electronically limited top speed of 270km/h, Lexus claims a time of 4.6 seconds for the dash from 0-100km/h – just a tenth slower than the smaller lighter coupe.
In sport mode the transmission automatically downshifts going into the corner, holds the gear for greater control in situ, before planning its exit based on how much throttle you’re giving it.
Addressing earlier concerns, Lexus recently upgraded the suspension, with driver-select Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS).
The system monitors and controls the damping force at all four wheels simultaneously, based on the road-surface and driver preferences.
Using G force, yaw-rate and speed sensors it is designed to improve comfort and handling, particularly on rougher roads.
But, in all but Sport S+ mode, the emphasis remains on ride comfort.
Sitting low on 19 inch wheels fitted with Michelin Pilot Super Sports – 255/35 front and 275/35 rear – the quad exhausts and orange calipers of the Brembo brakes are a dead giveaway.
Otherwise the GS F slips through the traffic without drawing too much unwanted attention, at least finished in slate grey as our test vehicle was.
Surprisingly, it’s not too thirsty either – rated at 11.3L/100km, we were getting a creditable 12.8 after 512km of mixed driving.
I’ve got to say however I was a bit miffed to discover the sound of the V8 is actually artificially enhanced as it enters the cabin.
Call it cheating if you like but it does make all the right noises at all the right times, so who really cares.
The level of safety is high too, with 10 airbags, including knee bags for driver and front passenger, plus low and high speed autonomous emergency braking.
Other active technologies include blind spot and lane keeping assist.
What we like?
- Striking looks
- Outstanding build quality
- Cabin fit out will knock your socks off
- Dazzling red leather trim
- Huge 12.3 inch computer display
- Dash display changes to reflect drive mode
- Stacks of performance
- Big reassuring brakes
What we don’t?
- Not huge fans of the “spindle” grille
- Doors large and heavy
- It’s a real stretch to reach them
- Fiddly joystick for computer selection
- Front parking sensors absent
- Satnav doesn’t keep you informed of current speed limit
- Head up display fades with polarised sunglasses
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
What are the alternatives?
BMW M5, TBA
A new one is in the pipeline, with more power, dramatically quicker times and rear-biased all-wheel drive for the first time.
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, priced from $209,900
The Benz barnstormer needs no introduction. The 4.0-litre V8 is a gem with one of the best exhaust notes in the business.
Audi S6 4.0 TFSI Quattro, $170,176
Nice bit of kit but the $245,000 RS6 is better – trouble is it comes only as a wagon (but don’t let that put you off).
The bottom line?
Both you and your partner will be able to live with this one.
The GS F really is the Goldilocks of the F range, not too big and not to small with just the right amount of power to make things interesting – not to mention the wonderful note of the V8.