First Drive: 2016 Lexus GS-F
Inspiration comes in many forms – in the automotive world of performance and luxury – they come in many different letters. BMW has ‘M’, Cadillac overtook ‘V’, Audi snatched up ‘R & S’, Mercedes of course being greedy took ‘A-M-&G’, and now there is Lexus, left with the last motivating letter ‘F’. It’s a letter that has fallen from their deceased, pride n’ joy LFA, but where one must fall, another must rise from the ashes and take over the crown.
Well, they can’t wear the crown just yet – the Germans have conquered this end of the market for years. Last year, Lexus dealt a new hand in the performance coupe market with the RC-F – now, they’ve taken their most popular mid-sized premium sedan, the GS, went scouring through the excess parts bin at the factory and spawned the new GS-F.
Compared to BMW or Mercedes – Lexus is the more civilized one at the party – the one that pulls up to the valet, listening to the smooth Jazz station on Sirius while the other two are goofing off behind the restaurant seeing who’s exhaust bark is the loudest while getting drunk off warm beer.
Unlike the Germans, Lexus is keeping it all natural here when it blows its turtle blurp with a 467-horsepower from a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 borrowed from the RC-F. Naturally aspirated means much more ample stream of prompt acceleration giving the delivery of power more on tap as the GS-F constructively snarls its way to 7300 rpms. If you manage your shifts right and play by the video game styled instrument cluster, you can reach 60 mph in 4.5 seconds through its quick to shift eight-speed transmission. Open up the throttle to pass 4000 rpms, the quad-tipped exhaust will open a flap to release an inappropriate fart – excuse you!
There are four drive modes – Normal, Sport, Sport +, and our personal favorite… Eco. Why is Eco our fav? Because when the cop asks us how fast we were going, we can say “I don’t know we were just counting the leaves on the dash.” Each drive mode fundamentally adjusts the throttle sensitivity, transmission mapping and steering hemp. Sport + is the more aggressive setting to be in and if you turn off traction control… EXPERT mode engages – to remind you, this is for people with gloves and a helmet only! But before you can officially set off, you must also set up the Torque Vectoring Differential between its three modes – Normal, Slalom, or Track. So many settings that do so many things that at the end of the day, to a normal driver, don’t feel any different than driving in normal mode.
The reality here, Lexus took their popular product, slapped a big V-8 under the hood, gave it some fat 19-inch wheels, some body flair, quad-tips and called it good. This GS-F still drives like a Lexus with the F SPORT package… not that we’re complaining. Road feel and feedback does come back indifferent no matter what drive setting its in – the steering has an amusing overall feel and an enjoyable balance of weight in its motions – but still feels like a normal sedan. The ride quality is not of a Lexus however, it was jittery and jolting over bumps, and with these fat summer tires, the road noise is obscene. Couldn’t even hear the person next to us having a conversation. At least the massive brembo brakes here do a good job at what they do best.
The struggle we have with the GS-F is when things are pushed to the limits. This car hates limits. We found this car more enjoyable in Sport + Mode with all the nannies still on – its predicable in that sense that you can get the rear end to tip out just hair to make your passengers things you got this under control. The minute that EXPERT sign comes on, the whole car becomes impulsive – there’s understeer and oversteer at the same time, it tries to correct us when we didn’t want correcting and when we allowed the car to take control, it loses all hope and points you facing the wrong way on the wrong side of the road. Best we leave the expert driving to the… experts.
Inside however, it’s all familiar territory for Lexus – the most amazingly comfortable seats you’ll ever sit that cuddle and curve your body – and just in case you forget why you sign those payment checks, the headrest are embossed with ’F’ logos. Premium soft touch materials – suede design on the dash with blue stitching and exposed screw heads makes a fantastic modern touch and carbon fiber inserts everywhere. Lexus truly thought out the details when making the GS-F all that it could.
2016 brought in some extensive changes to the overall GS line-up – besides those amazing triple beam LED headlights and new taillights. Lexus upgraded the Lexus Enform infotainment system with a high definition display and crisper response times from the mouse puck. But because this was a one price fits all situation on the GS-F, our Ultra White tester arrived with the latest in safety tech.
Combining luxury with performance is usually a recipe for a six-figure price tag. In the case of the Lexus GS-F… go lower… much lower… it starts at $84,440 – with some packages, it still won’t pass the 90k range. Not bad for something that can break your back and still look good outside of valet. Just note, the GS-F is not to messed with on the track – the Germans, while drunk can still run laps around the GS-F with their tails wagging and exhaust eructing, but then again the Lexus is still $20K less at its highest mark… whereas the other two barely there.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2016 Lexus GS-F:||$84,440|
|5.0-liter V-8 – 467-horsepower/389lb-ft of torque – 0-60MPH: ±4.5 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 16/24/19 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average: 14 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 280 Miles|
|Carpeted Trunk Mat:||$105|
|Mark Levinsion Audio:||$1,380|