The 2016 Lexus GS F is the fourth model in Lexus’ performance-oriented F sub-brand. It follows the IS F of 2008, the 2012 LF A, and the 2015 RC F. A mid-size four-door sedan, the GS F fires its salvo at rivals like the BMW M5, Mercedes-AMG E63, Cadillac CTS-V, and Audi RS 7.
Styling is far more aggressive than base versions of the GS sedan, mostly in the name of cooling and aerodynamics. The front end is unique from the A-pillars forward. The front fenders are wider and feature air outlets that vent air from the engine compartment. A bold take on Lexus’ spindle grille dominates the front end, and it is flanked by a pair of air intakes; the one on the left provides air for a transmission cooler and the one on the right does the same for an oil cooler. LED headlights shaped in an L-pattern are standard, as are LED turn signal lamps, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillamps. Prominent rocker panels visually lower the car along the sides, and the rear end features a carbon fiber reinforced plastic lip spoiler and quad exhaust outlets that jut through a lower diffuser. Under-body covers also smooth out airflow underneath the car to improve overall stability.
The platform and suspension are also enhanced. Lexus adds four additional underbody braces to improve chassis stiffness, and uses more sophisticated suspension and chassis hardware. The GS F gets the GS’s double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. Two front arms and two rear links are aluminum to reduce unsprung weight and increase rigidity, the front and rear geometry is tweaked, and spring and bushing rates are stiffer. Sachs shocks and Brembo brakes are used at all four corners, with big 14.96-inch front rotors and 13.58-inch rear rotors. At the rear, the GS F also comes standard with an electrically controlled, clutch-actuated torque-vectoring differential.
Under the hood, the GS F gets the same 5.0-liter V-8 as the RC F mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The V-8, which makes 467-horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque, features both direct and port injection and runs on both the Otto and Atkinson cycles. These traits allow it to deliver decent fuel economy as well as willing power. It is rated at 16 mpg city, 24 highway, and 19 overall.
The 5.0-liter winds willingly up to 7300 rpm, emitting the throaty howl of a naturally aspirated V-8 along the way. Lexus even pipes in more sound through a pair of speakers, one up front and one in the rear. The engine offers plenty of power, and Lexus estimates a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. Throttle response is immediate, but the GS F just doesn’t have the unlimited power of rivals like the BMW M5, Cadillac CTS-V, and Mercedes-AMG E63. If Lexus really wants the GS F to compete against the some of the world’s best sport sedans, it’s going to have to turbocharge or supercharge this engine.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is a similar tale. It shifts smoothly and responsively, though not as crisply and quickly as some of the better dual-clutch transmissions on the market, including the one from BMW. Again, if Lexus really wants to compete, a dual-clutch gearbox would produce faster shift times and quicker lap times.
At 4034 pounds, the GS F weighs 356 pounds less than the M5 and 111 less than the lightweight CTS-V. That helps the GS F drive smaller than its considerable size, though the drive modes and the settings for the torque-vectoring differential really change its dynamic personality.
Leave the Drive Mode Selector in Normal mode and the GS F’s natural character comes out. Though a bit light, the steering is delightfully quick and the car turns in crisply. Push it hard into a corner, though, and the sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires give up grip and allow it to plow forward rather than rotate. The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM) also kicks in all too willingly, engaging the traction control and even cutting the power as the car scrambles for traction through tight turns. Thankfully, the strong brakes provide the stopping power to gather the car for sharp corners.
Switch over to the Sport S or Sport S+ modes and put the differential in Slalom or Track and the GS F is suddenly very willing to rotate, and this is where it feels much smaller than its size. Basically, the GS F’s natural understeer is cured by the active torque-vectoring rear diff.
The GS F balances its dynamic character with reasonable ride quality. The longer wheelbase helps iron out some of the ride harshness that plagues the RC F and makes the GS F a fairly comfortable cruiser.
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. At 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. However, this controller still requires drivers to develop a bit of manual dexterity, and that can make it frustrating.
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. While the GS F hasn’t been and won’t be crash tested, it should be even safer than the standard GS, which received the top ratings of “good” in every test it was subjected to by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Because the GS has not faced the IIHS’s small frontal overlap test, however, it can’t earn Top Safety Pick+ honors. The GS has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.