Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: July 27, 2016
The GS mid-size sedan is the latest Lexus to receive the full F treatment, and no I’m not talking about the aesthetic talk-the-talk but no walk-the-walk F Sport package, I’m talking about the real deal: a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine (the same one in the RC F) sending 467 horsepower to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The GS F is the big daddy of the Lexus lineup, the Japanese muscle car, if you will, and comes void of any nuances in the form of turbochargers or superchargers. Natural aspiration is key here, which has become a rarified treat on its own in this luxury sport sedan segment.
The downside to a naked engine? A lack of low-end power, and one look at the numbers suggests it’s true. The GS F’s stats pale in comparison to powerhouse rivals like the 560-hp BMW M5, 640-hp Cadillac CTS-V, and 577-hp Mercedes-AMG E 63 S. It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight, but oddly enough, the GS F is all the better for it. Numbers aren’t the whole story.
What the GS F lacks in power and torque (a lethargic 389 lb-ft to be exact), it makes up for in character, throttle response and exhaust noise, and the latter is especially true. Like most other Lexus’, the GS F comes with a feature called Active Sound Control (ASC), which pipes in induction and exhaust noise into the cabin via two speakers (front and back) for a more engaging experience. We call it brainwashing, but we’ve slowly succumbed to its alluring 7,300 rpm wail. There’s nothing else like it on the market, and there was no chance wasted in getting the revs up high to keep that track on replay.
The piped-in noise does make a big difference, and transforms the cabin into an almost video-game-like experience. From the outside though, the exhaust can sound a little flat, almost like the orchestra that was missing one vital instrument. From the inside however, the whole gang is present, popping baritones, cellos, and a few hints of violin at that crucial redline.
If the “fake” noise doesn’t work for you, then hit that ASC button perched next to the steering wheel – it will turn all that deceiving noise off. Just be glad that Lexus gives you that option, unlike other automakers.
Power lives high up in the range, so it will feel underpowered to most people used to driving turbos and keeping revs in the low- to mid-range. To get the most out of the GS F, you’ll have to hit the high road but once you get there, Lexus makes it incredibly easy and effortless to go fast and into the realm of dizzying triple digit speeds, but it never feels dangerous or unsafe.
You waft along from 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds without even breaking a sweat. The steering is light but weights up nicely when the speed builds, its turning radius is incredibly small for such a big sedan making U-turns a cinch, and despite the added weight and longer wheelbase, the entire car feels more nimble and rigid than its coupe-sibling, the RC F.
The entire suspension has been reworked for the GS F, including firmer springs, bushings, and unique forged aluminum control arms. There is no adjustability, but the result is a slightly more performance-oriented ride than the soft and compliant one provided by the standard GS.
Compared to other vehicles in the Lexus stable, the GS F is stiff as a button, but next to others in the same market, it’s quite supple and relaxed. The stiffer setup won’t upset occupants, and will also impress and shine when hitting up those curvy back roads with a decent amount of grace and composure.
We owe most of that accessible performance to the mechanical Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD), which came as an option on the RC F but is now standard on the GS F. It may sound like a fancy feature, but what it really does is manage and shift around power to the wheels that need it the most. Within milliseconds, it reads the situation and apportions torque to help pull the GS F out of corners with more precision and finesse. It also reduces steering and driving effort.
We love this rear diff – every time you tap the gas mid-corner, the rear gracefully skips out a little for you to have a bit of tail-wagging fun right before it shuts the gates and pulls you back into line. The GS F becomes so easy to manipulate, the grip is so predictable, and the limits are so attainable – something that can’t easily be said about the porky M5 or rubber-burning CTS-V.
Of course, what would an F vehicle be without some radical body panels to match: a massive spindle grill, stacked quad exhausts, orange brake calipers, and a carbon fibre rear spoiler are all defining features of the full F treatment, though I’m betting that most car-naïve onlookers will have trouble differentiating between this and a standard GS 350 F Sport. Having difficulty yourself? Try spotting that huge vent that stretches vertically on the side fenders behind the two front wheels – standard GS sedans don’t have that.
The looks are love it or hate it, and purely subjective. If you’re a fan of angular shapes or Gundams for that matter, you’ll want one of these on your bedroom wall. Those looking for a more conservative and less shouty design, best to look elsewhere.
The interior is a similar experience to the standard GS, though leather has been replaced with grippy Alcantara, and the standard three-spoke steering wheel with a thicker and meatier one with a fat F branded badge hanging at the bottom. A simple head-up display comes standard, as does an attractive layout of analog and digital gauges beneath it.
The best part about the cabin however are the seats. My god, these are good seats. Not only are they supportive, well-bolstered, and comfortable, but they are also beautiful to look at - the stitching is a marvel to behold.
Rear seat passengers also get a climate control panel located on the center fold-down armrest, which is a nice touch over competitors, and brings a bit of tech from the LS full-size sedan downstream into this mid-size segment.
We’ve constantly praised Lexus’ sensory ambiance with the 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, and it’s no different in the GS F – it’s one of the best we’ve ever heard. The infotainment system on the other hand is frustrating to use. First of all, you’ve got a complicated mouse-pad to navigate through the menus, which is overly sensitive to input.
Then you’ve got convoluted screens and menus within submenus that are all deceptively arranged.
For example, you would think that to alter the bass and treble, you would click the SETUP button, then into AUDIO, but there’s no option for sound adjustment in there. Instead, you have to head into RADIO, find the tiny little rectangular prompt on the bottom of the screen that says SOUND, and finally hit that to get to the audio controls. Oh, and there’s no Apple CarPlay either – darn.
So where does the GS F stand in terms of pricing? Well it starts at $95,000, and the only option you can have is the choice of exterior and interior paints and colours, everything else comes standard – a notable advantage over the German goliaths that charge a kidney for premium audio and navigation.
The BMW M5 is more expensive with a starting price of $107,359, while the Cadillac CTS-V sneaks up a bit lower at $92,135. The GS F strikes the middle ground, though I do believe this newly branded sports sedan should be a few thousand dollars cheaper to maintain the advantage of value over its rivals that have huge fan followings. However the GS F stands its own ground with appealing looks, a characterful eight-cylinder heart, and a mellifluous soundtrack to match.
Buyers looking for a sports sedan bred from motorsport will be disappointed with the GS F, but for those seeking a car mixed with equal parts luxury and equal parts performance will find that this Lexus carries the best of both worlds. It may be slower, heavier, and less powerful than the rivals many like to put it up against but the GS F is the better overall package, the jack of all spades if you will. It isn’t perfect at anything, but it is undeniably good at everything.
型号 Model: 2016 Lexus GS F
顏色 Paint Type: Ultrasonic Mica Blue 2.0 ($650)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $95,000
試車售價 Price as Tested: $95,650
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,850
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,915 / 1,845 / 1,440
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,830
引擎 Engine: 5.0-litre V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 467 hp @ 7,100 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 389 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 14.9 / 9.7 / 12.2
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 14.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sports; Front 255/35R19; Rear 275/35R19