2016 Lexus GS F Review and First Drive

by under Review, performance, luxury on 29 Feb 2016 10:09:07 PM29 Feb 2016

5.0-litre V8 is awesome; brilliant to drive; supple suspension


Styling not a unanimous favourite

Two F Division Lexus models within 12 months make a bold statement for Toyota’s premium brand. Originally the handiwork of enthusiast engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi, the high-performance F Division models are credited with bringing new, younger enthusiasts to Lexus showrooms.


Last year we saw the gorgeous Lexus RC F coupe land in Australia and now we have the GS F – the F Division’s take on a high-performance mid-size sedan. No prizes for guessing the competition – they both come from Germany.


Lexus GS F Overview

The high performance 5.0-litre V8 ‘F’ version of Lexus’ mid-size GS sedan follows the route of previous F Division models – it’s powerful, high-tech and very fast. Sounds like a combination we would warm to.


Just like rivals wearing ‘AMG’ and ‘M’ badges, the Lexus GS F is a complete race-bred engineering package and not just a big engine and stickers on the bodywork. We’re talking Sachs high-performance dampers, Torque Vectoring Differential, Brembo brakes, forged aluminium suspension arms, unique springs and a larger hollow front anti-roll bar just to get the ball rolling

Now available nationally, Lexus has launched the GS F in two models. You can pick the first model ($148,800) by its Alcantara seat trim while the top-specification version ($151,700) is identified by its semi-aniline interior leather and is stickered at $151,700

 Lexus GS F Engine

The ‘2UR-GSE’ 5.0-litre V8 is the most powerful engine ever fitted to a Lexus sedan. At cruising speeds it operates in Atkinson Cycle mode while under hard acceleration it adopts the Otto Cycle (the switch done electronically via the VVT-iE system adjusting the intake valve function).

With forged conrods and titanium exhaust and intake valves, this baby has been built to exploit its redline. Which it does in ‘Sport-’ mode we can confirm.


Maximum power is 351kW at 7100rpm and peak torque of 530Nm is delivered between 4800-5600rpm.

Compliant with the tough Euro6 emissions standards, the Lexus GS F delivers a combined-cycle fuel consumption of 11.3l/100kms.

Lexus GS F The Interior

You’ll never lack knowledge about your speed in the Lexus GS F  – there are two digital displays (one right in the centre of the instruments and one in the HUD) as well as a diminutive analogue speedo (it almost looks like a sports watch face).  That peculiarity aside, the GS F provides just the right combination of luxury and ‘go-fast’ in its interior.


The two models are differentiated primarily by their interiors – the range-topping model trimmed in aniline leather with heating/ventilation. We thought the seats themselves were terrific and provided support in just the right places.

Trim highlights are aluminium or you can option a carbon-fibre version (an extra $2500). And one of the cars we drove had the optional red leather for the seats which looked great.


Up-front there is the usual Lexus sports steering wheel (no flat bottom in Lexus-land) and spot-on instrumentation highlighted by the 12.3-inch multi-function screen which includes excellent satellite navigation and the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio. Infotainment is controlled by the mouse-pad controller which has never been a favourite of the www.carshowroom.com.au team (we reckon it’s a bit fiddly).

Lexus GS F Exterior & Styling

Lexus GS F is available with ‘Lava Mica’ (orange) – a paint colour developed for the LF A supercar – and we must say it looked terrific. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea however.


Regardless of the paint colour, the GS F makes no attempt to disguise its high-performance attributes.

Up-front there is the Lexus ‘Spindle Grille’ in mesh which slots into a unique bumper and underneath is a lip spoiler in Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP). Large cool air ducts feed straight to the massive Brembo front brakes.

Side view sees massive L-shaped air vents in the front fenders and extended sills plus the handsome 19-inch forged alloy wheels (two designs to choose from) with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

And the rear gets the whole enchilada with a stylish CFRP bootlid spoiler and sharp under-bumper rear diffuser with aerodynamics which Lexus says really work.


Lexus GS F On The Road

There was a motor sport theme to the national media launch for the all-new Lexus GS F. The drive route exited Adelaide, touched the old street circuit in Lobethal and the day finished with hot laps at the Mallala race track.

Plus former world F1 champion Alan Jones (a Lexus ambassador) jetted-in from the Gold Coast to chauffeur you around Mallala if required. Of course AJ’s stories will keep motorsport fans intrigued for hours…


Rushing around the Mallala circuit with Mr Jones at the wheel again highlighted the gulf in driving standards between professional race drivers and us more mundane human beings. Not even a missed braking point at the end of the straight or the 40-degree air temperature brought a sweat to the brow of the former World Champ who finished our three laps with the comment: “Very impressive for a road car isn’t it?”

Yes AJ, yes it is.

We’d more-or-less reached that conclusion before we got to Mallala after tossing the Lexus GS F over the excellent roads inland. We drove both versions but did fall in love with the top-spec model with its gorgeous leather seats (definitely worth the extra $2,900).

Some have said the Lexus GS F is too stiff/harsh in its suspension calibration to be an every-day drive car.  We can’t go along with that, in fact we’re taking a complete opposite view – in comfort mode on the road, the Lexus GS F is actually much less taut that the German rivals and the steering is impressively light.


The eight-speed automatic transmission offers Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes. But the GS-F monitors your driving style and even if you’re not on a race circuit, if it detects you’re punting hard, shift points will change and you’ll notice quite aggressive throttle-blipping downchanges.

And the switch to the sportier modes is accompanied by a switch in the instrumentation and gauge colours (to red of course) as well as firmer steering calibration. You can even switch the Torque Vectoring Differential between ‘Slalom’, ‘Track’ or ‘Circuit’.

Yep, no question about it, the Lexus GS F will appeal to those who want genuine Track Day capability or those who just want their every day sedan to have a high-performance edge.

Lexus GS F Issues

Perhaps the drive modes are a tad too numerous and complicated.


Lexus GS F Verdict

Very, very impressive on the road and great fun on the race circuit. The GS F certainly takes Lexus in a new direction which we certainly like.

Sure high-performance premium sedans represent a very specialized sub-segment (Lexus boss Peter McGregor reckons total annuals sales for the GS F will be about 30 cars). But expectations are high and there’s no doubt Lexus has delivered.


The GS F is very well equipped, loaded with ‘go-fast’ technology, looks and sounds the part and goes like a projectile when asked to. Handling is also pin-sharp and, as we mentioned, some may actually find the ride of the Lexus more to their liking than the super taut German rivals.

In some eyes the Lexus GS F’s looks might not have the ‘chutzpah’ of the suave/stylish Europeans. But in real terms the Lexus is ahead in the value-for-money stakes.

Lexus GS F The Competition

When asked about competitors, Lexus Australia chief Peter McGregor claimed the GS F had no direct rivals. Question is: are you comparing on price, specifications or engine output?

But the obvious ones start with the BMW M3 or M5 ($139,900 or $185,000), the Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG or E63 S AMG($155,489 or $250,540). Are the BMWs the segment benchmark or does that honour go to the Benz models?

Well first of all we must record the all-new Mercedes-Benz E Class isn’t far away. However we’re not anticipating any price reduction for the range-topping AMG model.

And given it has interior space more akin to the 5-Series and E Class, it must be said the Lexus GS F offers superior value-for-money. And the Lexus is very comprehensively equipped as standard – there’s no raiding the options list to get the car you truly want.

For under-bonnet muscle the Lexus 5.0-litre V8 (351kW/530Nm) is outgunned on the stats sheet compared to the Germans, but as we’ve detailed it still packs a mighty wallop and sounds superb when you crack the whip.

Tough choice we know, but the fact is, no matter what angle you’re coming from, the Lexus GS F is in the same conversation as the credentialed German duo.

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