2016 Lexus GS FPosted on April 21st, 2016
Performance model raises the bar for mid-size sport sedan
By Nina Russin
Think of the new Lexus GS F as a double rainbow, combining sumptuous styling and potent engineering of the all-new 2016 model with F Sport specific chassis components. What makes the GS F so appealing, aside from the above-listed attributes is its versatility. Although clearly engineered for driving at speed, Lexus’ rear-wheel drive sport sedan is equally at home commuting to and from work or taking the family out for a night on the town.
Standard equipment includes a 467-horsepower five-liter naturally-aspirated engine and eight speed direct shift transmission, 19-inch forged alloy wheels with staggered tires, Brembo brakes, double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension and torque vectoring differential.
Base MSRP is $84,440 excluding the $950 destination charge. Options on the test car include a Mark Levinson audio system and carpeted trunk mat, bringing the final MSRP to $86,875.
Styled to stand out
Designers have refined the spindle grille that has become the identifier for all Lexus vehicles, integrating it into the sedan’s aerodynamic body. F Sport features include a unique front fascia with functional air inlets, triple beam headlamps, four exhaust pipes and a carbon fiber rear spoiler.
Large wheel arches sweep over the sedan’s specially-designed wheels and low-profile performance tires, mimicking an animal crouched and ready for take-off.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
I spent the past week driving the Lexus GS F throughout Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as rural roads through the Gila River Indian Community south of town. The 150-mile route included some remote areas in which to test the car’s powerful new engine as well as more trafficked roads similar to those one would experience driving to and from work.
As with former models, the driver has the ability to customize performance according to his or her driving needs by using a rotary dial on the center console. I chose Sport S mode: a nice bump up in performance tuning without the extreme profile of Sport S+ that would make the ride too harsh for some of the uneven road surfaces I encountered.
A large information screen in the center console has a split screen, so it can display audio channel settings as well as climate and/or navigation information. The gauge cluster varies according to the drive mode selected, in this case displaying a large tachometer, speedometer and driving dynamics on a thin-film-transistor display. Since all of this can be distracting, a heads-up display gives the driver basic speedometer readings and posted speed limits at the base of the windshield.
The sport setting alters the throttle map for more aggressive acceleration and holds onto gears longer for enhanced power. Drivers more interested in fuel economy, on long road trips for example, can opt for Eco mode. The electric power steering system is one of the best units I’ve experienced to date: an achievement for an OEM that struggled with this technology early on. At speed, the driver experiences pleasantly heavy steering feedback with precise on-center response that would make a race car driver proud. At lower speeds, the GS F is highly maneuverable on crowded urban thoroughfares or when winding through a parking lot.
Although the GS F’s quiet interior is on par with other Lexus vehicles, engineers gave the sedan an exceptionally rich exhaust note during hard acceleration.
The suspension, while firm is certainly not uncomfortable. I was surprised at how well the car did on some of the rural roads that rarely get resurfaced.
An adjustable torque vectoring differential enables the driver to control the manner in which the car corners. The system transfers torque between the right and left rear wheels based on acceleration, G-force, yaw rate and braking. I kept it in the standard setting for the test drive. For more aggressive performance, the driver can choose eitherslalom for winding roads or a track setting for competition.
Six piston Brembo brakes up front and four-piston rotors in the rear give the GS-F plenty of stopping power with no danger of fading during a long day at the track.
I was able to adjust the driver’s seat for a clear forward view. A rearview camera provides a wide-angle view to the back when the driver shifts into reverse. Bolsters on the driver’s seat somewhat interfered with over-the-shoulder visibility to the left, but I felt comfortable monitoring vehicles in adjacent lanes on the highway. Blind spot monitoring is also standard.
Although the GS F is clearly focused on the driver with its heavily bolstered seats, Formula shift paddles and performance-oriented information displays, it is also a comfortable car for passengers. Due to its tall floor tunnel, two adults will be more comfortable in the second row than three except for short trips around town. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob when entering the car after dark.
All occupants will enjoy the superior quality of the Mark Levinson audio system that is capable of decompressing files for symphony hall quality sound. Dual-zone climate control keeps both front-row occupants comfortable during temperature extremes. The F-Spec sport seats are comfortable for drives several hours in duration with excellent lower lumbar support.
Standard Lexus Enform enables the driver to call for turn-by-turn directions if he is unable to pull off the road to program the navigation system and access an increasing array of apps via his smart phone.
The Lexus GS F includes a complete roster of active and passive safety features including eight airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, daytime running lamps, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, intelligent high beam headlamps, emergency collision notification, stolen vehicle location and roadside assistance.
The all-new GS F is rolling into Lexus dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stunningly beautiful sport sedan with performance to match, equally at home on the track or commuting to work on crowded urban thoroughfares.
Base price: $84,440
As tested: $86,875
Horsepower: 467 Hp @ 7100 rpm
Torque: 389 lbs.-ft. @ 4800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 16/24 mpg city/highway