2016 Lexus GS F Review
So where does this GS F fit in? While wonderfully powerful and dutifully fast, the $84,440 GS F isn’t the quickest amongst its peers, this revered honor earned by that all-electric $135,000 Tesla Model S P90D that’ll do the zero to 60 mph deed in less than 3.0 seconds thanks to 532 horsepower and 713 lb-ft of torque from twin motors front and rear. Audi’s S6 (impressively priced at just $70,900) manages a very sporting 4.5-second sprint to 60 thanks to comparably light weight combined with 450 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque driving all four wheels. How about that M5? It starts at $94,100 (similarly equipped at $107k) and requires 560 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque to achieve a 4.2-second dash to 60, whereas the $120k Mercedes E63 S AMG 4Matic gets under the four-second mark with a 3.5-second launch to 60 via 577 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of twist to all four wheels. Cadillac’s $99k CTS-V will do the same 3.5-second sprint with only rear-wheel drive thanks to a 640 horsepower V8 with 630 lb-ft of torque. As for the not-yet released Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, expect it to slot in somewhere between the $63,500 M3 and this GS F and to produce 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque resulting in a 3.8-second sprint to 60, not to mention a self-claimed fastest four-door lap time on the old Nürburgring Nordschleife track at 7:39 minutes.
If all of this sounds like the silly schoolyard banter of 16 year old boys, I couldn’t agree more. Writing about such cars requires such performance details, but living with one is an entirely different reality. Take the GS F. By the numbers it appears to be unpleasantly spanked by some of its rivals, but get behind the wheel and I guarantee you’ll enjoy every second. You can feel its substantive 4,034-lb curb weight at takeoff and in the corners, but it’s nevertheless a very quick and agile sport-luxury sedan that even makes very un-Lexus-like exhaust blats, burbles, gurgles and guttural secondary waste-gate grumbles, thanks to active sound control that electronically synthesizes the engine and exhaust notes before funneling them through two dedicated speakers.
Something very real positioned beside the GS F’s Drive Mode Select dial on the lower console is a “TVD” button that engages a standard torque vectoring differential and replaces the regular GS model’s Torsen limited slip diff. It allows the choice of Standard, Slalom and Track settings, all of which can be altered further via the Drive Mode Select controller. TVD apportions engine torque to the rear wheel with optimal grip whether under power or not. When TVD and Sport Plus mode are simultaneously employed, the stability and traction control systems get completely turned off (be forewarned) with torque vectoring and your quick reflexes and driving skill the only gatekeepers maintaining rear wheel control, which means the GS F is absolutely track ready if you’re so fortunate to have somewhere nearby to legally abuse it.
Power through a tight twisting two-laner and the big sedan remains flat and poised, fully capable of near anything you can throw at it, while simultaneously it’s one of the most comfortable cars to drive at speed. Even when pitching it into 90-degree angles at outrageous speeds, its TVD and Sport Plus mode fully engaged, tail wagging in utter bliss and 255/35R19 front, 275/35R19 rear rubber shrieking in fits of joy, its massive 15-inch front and 13.6-inch rear rotors bitten by F-stamped Brembos providing even greater G-force shock to the system, the GS F’s heft-defying agility produces those especially enjoyable slack-jawed, dumbfounded expressions of non-belief from passengers, which is once again so juxtaposed to the car’s incredible comfort.
The GS F’s goodness needs to be measured not just by numbers but also by a more traditional luxury car yardstick. Sure my tester’s shocking orange paint scheme, optional matching orange brake calipers, wide-body fender flares with sensationally long front engine vents, vertically angled triple-LED headlights and similarly positioned quad tailpipes, not to mention brilliant carbon-fiber lower grille trim and rear deck lid spoiler, made the GS F’s already eye-arresting bodywork stand out above even this over-the-top crowd.
Trying to find hard plastic interior surfaces is challenging, the GS F superbly finished with some of the highest quality soft touch synthetics in the industry, not to mention suede-like Alcantara across the top of the dash and instrument hood, softening each door insert, and pampering the armrests on the doors and center console. Psuede covers the palm rest just ahead, this necessary for guiding the infotainment system’s haptic-sensing Remote Touch controller, while the rest of the cabin is finished in dark metals, gorgeous gray-tone gloss hardwood, de rigueur piano black lacquer, and leather of course, much of it perforated and stitched together with purplish-blue thread.
This would include the front sport seats along with their ultra-cool racing style metallic-edged four-way shoulder strap holes. They’re wonderfully comfortable and eight-way power-adjustable with three-way heat and ventilation plus memory for both, while even the rear quarters benefit from three-way heat as well as superb lower back support, not to mention the level of roominess granted by the GS’ mid-size E-segment classification. Unlike most in this segment that go minimal in back in order to save weight, the GS F boasts a complex flip-down center armrest outfitted with switchgear for the heated outboard seats, separate third-zone auto temperature controls and complete adjustability of the fabulous sounding optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system plus a large monochromatic display for keeping tabs on both, as well as a button for powering the rear sunshade up and down; the side sunshades are manually operable. Lexus even included a powered trunk lid that allowed ultra-easy access to its sizable cargo hold.
Back to front cabin, the switchgear is the best you’ll likely see in this segment, with excellent materials quality, near perfect gap spacing, and ideal damping for a quality feel, while the electronic interfaces controlled by these buttons, knobs and toggles are also second to none. Ahead of the driver is a primary gauge package that’s almost purely digital and therefore multi-configurable depending on the selected drive mode—Eco mode for those times when you’d prefer more relaxed performance, along with default, Sport and Sport Plus modes. When so set, the gauges replace their soft blue glow along with the center dial’s turbine-like background for a machiavellian red surrounding a tachometer, while the eco-oriented features previously making up the left-side multi-information display get replaced by loads of useful performance info. Even if you’re a purist who prefers the white on black simplicity of a BMW gauge package, you’ll like what Lexus has in store, because along with all of its eyeball-searing glitter there’s a just-the-facts nature to the way everything comes together.
Ditto for the 12.3-inch widescreen infotainment display that dominates the upper instrument panel. Its screen resolution and graphics are among the best in the business, while its various functions are intuitively organized and work well. Lexus’ joystick style controller sits atop the lower console as noted earlier, and while not as up to date as the newer touchpad design it gets useful “Enter” buttons on each side so that choosing a function is a lot easier than before.
I’ve mentioned a lot of GS F features already, and take note that all are standard except for the Mark Levinson audio system that added an extra $1,380 to my tester, plus the $300 orange calipers and $595 orange exterior paint, but that’s it for options, my tester ringing in at $86,715 plus freight and dealer fees. Other standards include 19-inch forged alloys, full LED auto-leveling headlamps with automatic high beams and washers, LED directionals and taillights, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, LED ambient lighting and map lamps, a powered tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped multifunction heated sport steering wheel, intermittent rain-sensing wipers, dynamic radar cruise control, a head-up display, a universal garage door opener, a powered moonroof, navigation, a reverse camera with active guidelines, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, the latter two also heatable and power-folding, plus clearance and backup sensors, intuitive parking assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure alert with steering assist, pre-collision system, tire pressure monitoring, front and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters, all of the usual airbags plus two blockers for the front occupants’ knees and two rear side-thorax airbags, plus more.
Lexus has matured as a luxury brand, and the expansion of its F sub-brand is a clear sign that it’s starting to flex its newfound muscle. I doubt it will find as many homes for this GS F as BMW sells M5s or Mercedes E63s, but those who opt for this provocatively designed, imaginatively engineered super sedan will be rewarded with one of the best combinations of performance and luxury money can buy. That it will without doubt be bulletproof reliable is just a bonus.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press