Lexus GSF Review
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit I was never a big fan of the Lexus GS. It always felt like the fulfillment of an obligation to offer a mid sized luxury sedan. Previous incarnations of the GS, even the 350 F-Series felt just a little big and heavy on the track and when offered the choice of models it was usually one of the last options I chose. I like cars that are clearly designed for a purpose and the older GS series just felt like an afterthought.
The GSF is no afterthought. The GSF looks and drives like a Marvel Comics redesign. From its signature “Ultrasonic Blue Mica” paint job, bold and polarizing design, and 467 HP V8 engine, the GSF has been designed with a certain kind of driver in mind. This time around it was me.
The paint job alone costs more than some people’s cars. The GSF flares where it should flare, pinches tight where it should pinch. It’s wide and athletic in the front and has just enough of a swoop in the rear to distinguish the trunk from its less affluent cousin, the Toyota Camry. I’m on record for loving the spindle grill and remain a big fan of the overall posture of Lexus’ brand refresh. This car is not a mild mannered sedan with sports styling. The GSF is a luxury sports sedan and everything about the look promises a bold driving experience. A glance puts it in the same category as some heavy hitters with initials like M5, AMG and E63. Will the drive measure up?
I’m familiar with the 5.0L 476 HP V8 engine, having tested it on the RCF last year. Spoiler alert, it is still super fun to drive. In a day of ecoboost this and turbo that, the thrill of pressing the gas and getting raw horsepower can be forgotten. Not so in the GSF, even in ECO and Normal mode, the engine springs to life with a roar. When the drive mode select is placed in S or S+ mode, the enhanced engine noise growls and fills the cabin with the noise of delightful revving and downshifting. Speaking of downshifting the 8 speed automatic transmission is a revelation. In canyons and straightaways it seemed to predict my next move, anticipating downshifts and never getting caught awkwardly between gears. The suspension was stiff but comfortable enough, stopping just short of a luxurious ride. Potholes and grooves in the road were managed without any rattling and overall the car felt very snug and well put together. Out on the highways, wind and road noise are a dull murmur and the engine noise only kicks in when aggressive maneuvers began.
What the F?
What the F is the F? What the F is the F series? Aren’t they the same?
Short answer, no.
Medium answer, welllll they do have some overlap.
The F Series badge is a trim level and a suite of options available across the Lexus lineup. It includes better components and bigger engines, premium sound, etc. The F is a stand alone. It’s an answer to the M series or the AMG of its european competitors, a car custom built for the well heeled driving enthusiast. Fans of Silicon Valley will get it, this car, um, F’s.
So, when you see the “F Series” badge, the driver thought enough of themselves to add a few extra touches. When the badge says “F”? It means this guy really likes to party.
Overall very sharp interior in the GSF. Lots of carbon fiber, well accented lighting and the familiar dash design work well with the comfortable bolstered seats and mid sized back seat, The increasingly dated infotainment system remains largely as is, utilizing the Remote Touch Controller to navigate the 12.3″ screen. The software has begun to feel a little clunky for a car so technologically advanced and is surely up for an update in the coming model years.
Lexus has the GSF packed with so many safety features it dominated the Monroney sheet. Obvious ones like airbags give way to the less obvious like Pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Alert and Cross Traffic Alert. The entire suite of safety features really combine to impact the way you drive the car. Radar assist cruise control remains my favorite. It allows the driver to set a safe follow distance and an optimum top speed and the car does the rest. Best used on the open highway, it essentially takes over the throttle and braking responsibilities, even bring the car to a full stop if traffic dictates. A welcome step in the road to cars that have more and more self driving capabilities, this practical innovation is a pleasure to use and extremely effective at predicting slowdowns up ahead. The optional Mark Levinson Audio system is crystal clear, allowing max volume without distortion or buzzing.
The Lexus GSF comes in at high marks. What it lacks in refinement it makes up for in enthusiasm. The bold look and large, naturally aspirated engine will attract a more youthful part of the marketplace sometimes felt forgotten by the legacy brands of Cadillac and Lincoln and offer a clear alternative to M5 and AMG. An exciting drive, an aggressive look and a sharp interior design make the GSF stand out from the crowd.
MSRP as tested $86,760
5.0L DOHC 32 Valve V8
19″ Forged Alloy Wheels
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