When Toyota planned its assault on the luxury-car business in the late 1980s, Circle F was code for the Lexus LS400 flagship. But while Lexus has offered 15 F Sport models, only three cars have merited a stand-alone F badge: the feisty IS F compact sedan introduced for 2008, the limited-edition LFA two-seat supercar for 2012, and the recent RC F coupe. In 2016 that has changed to four models with the arrival of the all new GS F sports sedan. In essence, the GS F is an RC F with two more doors, a real back seat, and fresh design.
What comes across from the RC F includes a 5.0-liter V-8 which makes 467-horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque, an eight-speed paddle-shifted automatic, and an electronically controlled torque-vectoring differential (TVD). While competitors resort to boosted engines in their quest for power and efficiency, Lexus sticks to what it knows best—natural aspiration for sharp throttle response, power that rises aggressively with rpm, and a feral shriek at the 7000+rpm redline and Lexus estimates a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.5 seconds.
However do not think that Lexus are stepping back with this engine. The big V8 boasts two features not found on other vehicles. Fuel is squirted into the intake ports and/or the combustion chambers, to ensure proper mixing of the ingredients throughout the full range of throttle positions and engine rpm. Thanks to its versatile cam phasing (variable-valve-timing) equipment, the GS F’s engine can exploit Atkinson-cycle operation during light loads for a claimed 14-percent gain in efficiency, then run on the conventional Otto cycle when maximum power and torque are desired.
What is boils down to is the engine has the throttle response you would expect of any sports-sedan contender. The GS F also has a mode selector you can set powertrain, stability-control-system, and climate-control parameters to suit your mood. Eco – softens throttle action and diminishes energy spent on climate control. Normal – is for daily driving while Sport and Sport+ hone the throttle response, tailor the transmission’s shift character, and cue the enhanced engine note transmitted through the speakers. Chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi is quick to assert that Active Sound Control is not a synthesizer; rather, unappealing noise is electronically canceled with an out-of-phase signal and the remaining notes are enhanced to produce a 7000-to-7300-rpm roar.
To ensure that the GS F is capable of defending its honor on a racetrack, a fundamental attribute for every F model, this GS has the torque-vectoring differential. This is a pair of planetary gearsets mounted to the output sides of an open differential to add or subtract to the torque supplied to the rear wheels to help rotate the GS F about its yaw (vertical) axis. This results in a rear-steer effect that’s just as forceful as what happens in front so it certainly feels steady at any speed. Handling wise, the GS F doesn’t feel like a 4,000 lb sedan (the official curb weight is 4,034 lbs). The engineers at Lexus did an excellent job tuning the suspension on the car to be both sporty and comfortable over long distances.
Thanks to Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber mounted to 19-inch forged BBS wheels, there’s ample grip up to the limit. The electrically assisted steering is tuned without center slack and with quick response to yank you smartly toward apexes. Nonvariable ZF Sachs dampers stop the body roll after a few degrees of initial twitch heading into a bend. Add to that giant, fixed-caliper Brembo brakes, a transmission with the brains to react to lateral-g loads, and bucket seats with lateral staying power, and you have a serious track weapon.
Inside, the GS F has room for five in a cockpit-style environment. Over and above the standard GS, the F gets aluminum pedals; perforated leather on the seats and steering wheel; available carbon fiber trim; and Alcantara on the meter hood, instrument panel, door trim, center console, and Remote Touch palm rest. It also features high-back front sport seats that are exceptionally comfortable and supportive. Lexus’ Remote Touch system is standard. It uses a center console-mounted joystick to enter controls on the massive 12.3-inch dashboard screen. Haptic feedback makes “buttons” on the screen provide resistance through the joystick. For 2016, Lexus adds a thumb-activated “Enter” button that helps make the system a bit easier to use.
Safety features are plentiful. The GS F comes standard with 10 airbags, including driver and front-passenger knee airbags, and rear-side airbags. The Lexus Safety+ system is also standard. It includes adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with lane keep assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The starting price of the GS F is competitive at $84,440. And with only two available options aside from paint colors, you should be able to pick up a GS F for relatively close to sticker. Our car was optioned with both of the 2 options – the Mark Levinson Audio system and orange brake calipers. Out the door, the full price of our test GS F was just a hair over $87,000 at a retail price of $87,070 including a delivery, processing and handling fee of $950.