Lexus GS F Quick Review

By Scott Newman, 24 Aug 2016 Car Reviews

Lexus GS F

The Lexus GS F is a mid-size performance sedan armed with a raunchy V8 and a roomy, beautifully made interior. It sounds great, has decent dynamics and is a solid alternative to its more focused German rivals.

TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR

It’s the flagship high-performance variant of Lexus’s large-car GS range, so it’s a conventional four-door sedan body driving the rear wheels. Size-wise, it’s comparable to BMW’s 5 Series or the Mercedes-Benz E-class, however it’s priced to compete with the smaller, mid-size high-performance offerings from the premium German brands like BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63.

STRENGTHS

The GS F eschews the engine turbocharging used by its German rivals (although this is both a strength and weakness…). The good part is a very linear, sharp and satisfying response to the throttle pedal - power from the V8 pours on without a sudden swell, and delivers a lush free-breathing sound, which is reminiscent of a V8 race car.

  • Provided the engine is worked in its upper reaches, performance is excellent, and the eight-speed automatic is smooth-shifting and eager to choose and hold the optimum ratio in the Sport Plus mode.
  • Grip levels are strong and the car’s balance is essentially fairly neutral, meaning neither the front or rear comes unstuck suddenly unless seriously provoked. There’s also a clever system under the rear of the car which ensures power is directed to the wheel best able to deploy it, aiding the sense of cornering agility in what is a large car.
  • Inside it’s refined, roomy and packed with equipment, including a 17-speaker stereo, heated front and rear seats (ventilated fronts optional), three-zone climate control, 10 airbags and every active safety feature under the sun. The only options are polished 19-inch wheels and carbon interior trim, making the speccing process very simple compared to the bafflingly complex options list provided by German rivals.

WEAKNESSES

  • The engine lacks the really strong mid-range surge of turbocharged rivals, so needs to be revved harder in brisk driving. It is also more thirsty in most real-world conditions.
  • It’s a heavy vehicle at over 1800kg, and this ultimately blunts its abilities when pushed to the limit on a racetrack.
  • The steering doesn’t provide a great sense of connection and feedback to the driver, although it is accurate and slack-free.
  • The mouse-based controller for the infotainment system is fiddly and frustrating.


ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?

Price-point rivals, as mentioned, are cars a segment smaller like the Mercedes AMG C63 or BMW M3. The Lexus GS F can’t match the ultimate performance of either of these in full-blooded driving, but it’s not massively short of them, and is more spacious for rear-seat passengers.
For similar size and crisp, eager V8 performance, but with inferior build quality and equipment levels, buyers could consider pocketing $90K and look at a Holden Commodore SS V Redline. Otherwise Audi’s S6 is of similar size, has terrific turbocharged V8 performance, and an even more modern and beautifully crafted cabin. However the Audi carries a $20K price premium, before options needed to bring it up to the Lexus’s equipment levels.