The birth of the Lexus GS F was something of a cloak-and-dagger affair with team leader, engineering boss Yukihiko Yaguchi, bypassing official channels to begin work on what was to become the Lexus IS F V8 sedan.
Those after-hours sessions led to Yaguchi-san being involved in the RC F coupe and LFA supercar. Now comes the GS F four-door sedan. Yaguchi is still there, this time as emeritus chief engineer on the project.
Heart of the GS F is a 351 kW 5.0-litre V8 mated with an eight-speed transmission driving the rear wheels. As Lexus does, big engine is augmented by a high-end range of standard specification, such as four-mode drive select and sophisticated dynamic management.
It rises on19-inch alloy wheels, has Brembo brakes with orange calipers, LED headlamps, colour head-up display, 10 airbags and 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system.
The base model hits the market at $162,008 on the road. However, there is a shopping list of enhancement packs, adding such things as leather upholstery, polished alloy wheels and carbon interior trim, which sees the range top out at $170,284 on road. The latter was the test vehicle.
Lexus’s large spindle grille, with distinctive chrome ‘L’ contrasting with the dark mesh, dominates the front of the GS F, orange painted calipers peek out from behind polished alloy wheels and the rear features diagonally-stacked twin exhausts, a characteristic of the high-performance Lexus F series.
At almost five metres long, the car cannot be accused of looking bulky from the side. The profile matches the car’s intent; that of a sleek sports sedan, and is emphasised by the F series badging on the flanks.
The lines are linked front and back by Lexus F Sport bumpers, vents replace foglamps and a rear spoiler sits atop the powered boot lid above LED tail lights. The GS F runs on Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
Sports sedan or not, there is no sacrificing any of the luxury expected of a Lexus. Thick pile carpet mats adorn the floor, sports seats in the upper models are upholstered in leather, while the driver enjoys an easy entry steering wheel and seat slide.
Sun worshippers can bask in the glow by opening the tilt and slide moonroof, while those of another persuasion can lounge in the roomy rear seats, the rays kept at bay by an electric rear window sunshade.
Front and centre of the information systems is the centrally placed 12.3-inch LCD screen displaying live traffic alerts and rear-view camera image with mobile guidelines. This is augmented by a colour head-up display on the windscreen directly in front of the driver.
All instruments are well shaded from bright sunlight and offer a clear and precise presentation of vehicle systems and driving conditions. A nice touch is a soft material cover across the top of the dashboard cutting out excessive reflection on the windscreen.
A 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system includes DAB+ digital radio and there’s Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, voice control for phone and dual USB and Aux input and two 12V outlets.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
With variable valve timing and direct fuel injection the 32-valve twin-cam 5.0-litre V8 engine pumps out 351 kW of power at 7100 rpm and 530 Nm of torque between 4800 and 5600 rpm. Carbon dioxide emissions meet Euro 6 standards.
Gear shifts with the eight-speed automatic transmission take fractions of a second, smoothing out the drive in all but the harshest acceleration. Driving pleasure is enhanced with the transmission’s throttle blips matching the engine’s speed to the gear. The tachometer displays the gear engaged.
Two G-sensors and artificial intelligence swing into action for optimum sports driving on winding roads and adopt full converter lock-up from second to eighth gears in manual mode.
With a five-star safety rating Lexus GS F calls on 10 airbags for passive safety, while a vehicle dynamics management system consisting of stability and traction control, plus ABS anti-skid braking with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.
Occupants of the test car also benefited from Lexus Safety System + incorporating high-speed adaptive cruise and distance control, pre-collision safety with auto braking, lane keep assist and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert.
Before anything else, the driver taking his seat is greeted by an analogue speedo which tops out at 340 km/h, a somewhat optimistic figure I would have thought. Not that the GS F is lacking in performance.
Pushing the start button brings up an adjacent 8.0-inch digital display of information associated with both street and track performance. The set-up re-aligns to correspond with the chosen Lexus Drive Mode – Eco, Normal, Sports and Sport S+ – presenting key readings such as speed, revs, shift indicator and relevant gear.
With a claimed combined urban / highway cycle fuel consumption of 11.3 litres per 100 kilometres. The test vehicle used of seven litres per 100 kilometres on the motorway and up to 16 litres per 100 in the city and suburbs.
With 530 Nm of torque, overtaking is freely offered and assured. And while Lexus has made an art of keeping passengers insulated from outside noise, speakers in the front and rear of the GS F cabin electronically produce sounds that rise with engine speed and emphasises the exhaust note behind the vehicle. The system can be turned off by the driver via a switch on the instrument panel.
With all vehicle stability controls switched off it is possible to get the GS F sideways, as I experienced from the co-driver’s seat with rally champion Rick Bates behind the wheel on laps of Mallala race circuit in South Australia earlier this year.
With safety systems fully operable, I found it impossible to unsettle the same car on the same track, the driving experience being heightened by the change in engine note under acceleration.
The Lexus GS F is no AMG or M Series, but beware, Benz and BMW, with a 4.6-second sprint time and engine tuning to match, it’s getting there. On the other hand, in the high standard of luxury for its occupants the Lexus is unequalled.
AT A GLANCE
Lexus GS F 5-litre V8 8sp automatic sedan $162,008 on road
One of a series of seven optional enhancement packs can take the on-road price up to $170,284
5-litre V8 engine
8-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift program and artificial intelligence
Direct Mode Select with Sport+ Drive
Brembo brakes with orange calipers
Sports tuned suspension
Vehicle Dynamics Intelligence Management with vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS anti-skid braking with Lexus brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution
Lexus safety system incorporating high speed adaptive radar cruise control – distance control, radar pre-collision safety system with auto braking, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert
Power boot lid
Quad exhaust with chrome diffuser
Triple LED headlights with adaptive high beam
LED daytime running lights
LED tail lamps
LED analogue clock
Tri-zone climate control air-conditioning
Colour head-up display
17-speaker Mark Levinson audio with DAB+ digital radio
Lap timer and G-force meter
F Sport aluminium interior trim
12.3-inch LCD screen with live traffic alerts
Rear-view camera with parking guidance
SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus GS F 5-litre V8 8sp automatic petrol 4dr sedan)
Capacity: 4.969 litres
Configuration: V8 direct and port injection VVTi-E
Maximum Power: 351 kW @ 7100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 530 Nm @ 4800-5600 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 11.3 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 262 g/km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4915 mm
Wheelbase: 2850 mm
Width: 1845 mm (mirrors folded)
Height: 1440 mm (without moon roof)
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1825-1865 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 66 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Four years / 100,000 km