Ross Kiddie drives the high-performance Lexus GS F.
The Lexus F series cars have always been one of my favourites from the marque.
It all started with the introduction of the IS series in 2007; that car was available with a 5-litre V8, the concept of a big engine in a small car has always appealed to me.
There have been several V8s across the Lexus line-up before and since, although I think it would be fair to say that the 5-litre V8 has been Lexus’ best-kept secret given that today the brand has a huge emphasis on hybrid power.
That aside, a new generation GS F has landed and, as you can guess, the F represents V8, the same 4969cc unit that has powered the performance arm of the Lexus brand.
The GS is a lot bigger than the IS mentioned in my introduction, but performance isn’t hindered, the GS F is a monster regarding power output and performance, and it arrives in a coupe-like sedan body style, which oozes desire and practicality.
Landing here at $174,900, the GS F also comes loaded with goodies, and much of that is sight unseen. It has all of the latest technical components, which combine for safety and performance. It is a complicated car designed for high-speed motoring, but it also has the manners that promote casual driving for city speeds.
However, it is mostly a car that beckons for the open roads, and there are driver-selectable sport-mode protocols that can be tailored to suit any driving style or conditions.
In simple mechanical terms, the GS has a longitudinally-mounted engine up front with drive channelled through an eight-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels.
Up front, the engine is rated with a massive 351kW and 530Nm of torque. If you take into account that peak power is available at 7100rpm and torque across a wide spread from 4800rpm to 5600rpm, it is not only a powerhouse, but it revs freely to the top end and is strong from all points of the rev band.
With the low and close gearbox ratios, there’s never a point where you think acceleration is going to wilt. On that subject, Lexus claim a 4.6sec from a standstill to 100km/h time, and by my stopwatch, it will lunge from 80km/h to 120km/h in 3.8sec. These are quick times which easily satisfy, and if you are letting the engine breathe freely it affords a sound that is truly enticing, it wails and thunders, albeit with a little help from the rear audio speakers.
Such are the power outputs a lot is asked of the traction control system. Even with huge rear rubber (275/35 x 19in), the grip is challenged, the low profile Michelin tyres are as good as you can get in a sporty car, but under load even they struggle.
Lexus have always done performance cars well, and the GS has been engineered beautifully underneath. The fully independent front wishbone/rear multiple link system aids traction along with providing a fabulous, comfortable ride. In standard mode the ride is glorious, and even if you select the sports modes, which firm the suspension, there is little compromise in ride quality.
I took the test car on the road I only use for quick cars; the route to Lake Coleridge Village is a mix of corners which will test any chassis. The GS was in its element in the quick and slow stuff. It has steering to envy, feedback and control is millimetre precise, turn-in is direct, and body balance perfectly even. With the force of the engine out of a corner it is a car that pleases the driver immensely; and, of course, if a corner looms a little too quickly, huge brakes with Brembo calipers quickly slow speed, pedal feel is solid and totally reassuring.
It’s hard to believe that with so much performance on offer the GS F also beholds the Lexus concept of luxury, the entire in-cabin area is an experience to be in. Not only is there every conceivable convenience item, but that area is laid out so that five people can enjoy the driving experience.
As much as I enthused with the engine outputs, it also delivered respectable fuel usage readouts. My five-day average constantly listed around 12.9-litres per 100km/h (22mpg). An instantaneous 8l/100km (35mpg) figure lists at 100km/h with the engine turning over at just 1600rpm. These sit well with Lexus’ claim of 11.3l/100km (25mpg) on a combined cycle average.
The GS F is also a car you could enjoy as an occasional on-track experience. The first time I was acquainted with the car was on the sealed track at Ruapuna’s Mike Pero Motorsport Park. I was a passenger with a professional race driver at the wheel.
The GS F responded to the high-speed workout just as if it was built for competition; it is an all-rounder which, in comparison to other desirable sports cars, seems all so affordable.
Price: Lexus GS F, $174,900
Dimensions: Length, 4915mm;
width, 1845mm; height, 1440mm
Configuration: V8, rear-wheel-drive,
4969cc, 351kW, 530Nm,
Performance: 0-100km/h, 4.6sec
Fuel usage: 11.3l/100km