The GS F continues to inch its way towards the competition. In this newest iteration, we may have the best Lexus F-car short of the LFA. Now powered by the same 5.0L, 467hp V8 that can be found in the RC F, along with improved brakes and suspension, the GS F has solidified itself as a legitimate competitor in the full-size luxury sport sedan segment for 2017.
With new, continuously variable dampers, one of the main pain points of the GS F has been addressed. It now feels more direct and rigid than ever, especially in terms of lateral handling - a must when competing with ze Germans. Given that this is a Lexus after all, the GS F is about as good as it can be, in terms of drivability. Infotainment is an entirely different (and painful) story but we'll get to that later.
The GS F is Lexus' top-of-the-range model for F-cars. That said, the options list is short because of how many options are actually standard. In fact, the only optional features are orange-painted brake calipers, premium infotainment and a heads-up display (HUD). All performance upgrades are included in the base trim, even the new continuously variable dampers, which Lexus call "F-Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)."
Speaking of standard options, here is a "short" list of what comes right out of the box: automatic windshield wipers, forged 19" wheels, 10-way adjustable seats, keyless entry and ignition, Lexus Enform Remote smartphone app (includes vehicle finder, remote lock/unlock, ignition, and climate control), backup camera, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, 12-speaker audio system and sat-nav.
So how does the GS F drive, you ask? Quite well, actually! The GS F is the most capable GS in the model lineup and with the non-F variants being such solid performers, offering rewarding driving experiences themselves, the all-star GS F certainly stands out.
At 467 horsepower and 389 ft-lb or torque, the GS F's V8 certainly has the minerals for some serious driving. However, it is still shy of its competition in terms of potency. Another marked improvement of the GS F over its GS siblings are larger brakes with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers for better high-speed deceleration that is able to equally match the car's quick acceleration. Steering is direct and sharp, although feedback is not as present as we'd prefer (are you reading, Lexus?). Overall, in terms of driving and performance the GS F is a stellar road car but likely a sub-par track toy.
INT: Spacious and premium-feeling, the otherwise choice interior is somewhat hampered by its infotainment experience. Controls have been improved over previous versions of Lexus' Enform system, but on the whole it is still a headache to manage while driving. It just demands entirely too much focus to use. You know something is wrong when the $20K Mazda3's infotainment system obliterates the $90K GS F's in every way. When it comes to vehicle infotainment, more OEMs should follow the Mazda model of simplicity and minimalism, but that's another article for another day.
Being that it is a full size sedan, the GS F's interior surely reflects the car's overall size. Our team of three, one of us over 6'2", were all comfortably seated during various trips all over LA county.
Visibility is excellent for a large car thanks. Pillars are not overly thick which makes apex viewing easy. Blindspots are also minimal. Front and rear parking sensors paired with a large rear facing camera make parking a breeze. Materials are supple and there is an ideal combination of carbon fiber, alcantara and leather. All touch points feel right. Panel gaps and fit & finish are spot-on. Lexus has one helluva quality assurance team and the GS F proves that.
The otherwise useful mix of interior storage capability is slightly stalled by a small-ish trunk and a backseat that doesn't fold down. There a number of storage cubbies but the fact that the rear seatbacks don't fold really limits one's ability to store larger and/or longer items. Home depot runs and ski trips are unlikely in this car.
So what type of buyer is the GS F geared towards? BMW buyers? Audi buyers? Probably neither. The full size luxury sport sedan segment tends to house some of the most brand-loyal owners in the business, and Lexus is unlikely to sway many of them on the first try.
What the GS F is, is long term strategy for the Lexus brand as they continue to grow and prove the F-Line. Within its segment, the GS F fails to be the most competitive option. However, Lexus has decidedly moved forward towards offering a best-in-class option sometime in the near future.
By continuing to incrementally improve the F-Line and the GS F in particular, Lexus could eventually surpass its German benchmarks. That said, there are several pieces of technology currently missing from the GS F that would equal its rivals' (DCT, turbos, etc.).
$90K is a lot to spend on a sports sedan and Lexus understands that. The competition offers more in terms of performance at the moment, but Lexus had to enter this segment at some point, which they have done successfully. The next few years will be very exciting for the GS F and the entire category as Lexus continues to, year-after-year, improve the product and aim for best-in-class status as they have done so many times before.
It's only a matter of time before the GS F matches, if not surpasses, its rivals in many ways. However, what we currently have is a uniquely different kind of competitor in this class - somewhat subdued but with an old-school, brutish personality.
Under-powered for its class
Interior and exterior styling (some hate it, we love it)
Naturally aspirated, 5.0L V8 sound
Old school spirit meets modern technology
Engine – 5.0L DOHC 32-Valve V8
Drivetrain – RWD
Horsepower – 467 @ 6000 RPM
Torque – 389 @ 4600 RPM
Transmission – 8-Speed Automatic
Weight – 4104 lbs
Starting Price - $84,350; Tested at $89,478