When simply checking all the boxes isn’t quite good enough.
– Detroit, Michigan
If you only judge the GS F by its specs, Lexus immediately gets runner-up status. A luxury sedan with a 467-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8, rear-wheel drive, and every bell and whistle? Sounds great. Problem is, for the same price, Cadillac will sell you a similarly sized CTS-V with a screaming, supercharged, 640-hp V8, a fancy Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and sharper looks than Ol’ Spindly here. Sad trombone, Lexus – you’ve already lost the race.
Lexus believes there’s a customer in this segment who doesn’t care about numbers on spec sheets. But even then, I’m just not sure whether the GS F has enough positive attributes to make me love it as a complete, cohesive package.
- This is honestly one of the most comfortable cars I’ve ever driven. The plush seats hug you, and the adjustable suspension delivers a perfect balance of comfort and communication. Even on rough roads, the car never feels unsettled, but there’s a good sense of what’s happening beneath you. I would happily drive the GS F across the country and back in one sitting. I wouldn’t as willingly perform the same task in a BMW M5.
- You can’t beat the sound of a free-breathing V8, and Lexus’ big heart beats with fury. I wish it were a bit louder on its own, without the help of the Active Sound Control amplification system, but there’s nothing quite like hearing it sing at full blast when the tach passes 4,000 rpm.
- Sound aside, the V8’s a good engine. It’s the same 5.0-liter unit found in the RC F – it’s happy to rev and there’s no power drop-off at the top end.
- On the other hand, quietness is one of the GS F’s best attributes. It’s a Lexus through and through – I’m willing to bet this car is near the top of the class in terms of interior stillness.
- A giant infotainment screen can’t compensate for horrible usability. I hate the mouse-like controller for Lexus’ system, even after all these years, and the weird, new touchpad the automaker is using (in the NX, for example) isn’t much better. You think using a touchscreen is distracting? Try having to look closely to make sure the super-sensitive mouse is hovering over the right icon.
- Despite having four different drive modes and three different settings for torque-vectoring, the GS F is a very focused experience. The differences between Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport S+ drive modes are negligible – leave it in Eco if you’re commuting, throw it to S+ if you want to have fun. Don’t even bother with the others. Same goes for the TVD, or Torque Vectoring Differential, with Normal, Slalom, and Track settings. I couldn’t really discern a big difference between the three without having the chance to really wring the car out on a closed course.
- Overall, the GS F doesn’t feel eager to play. The steering lacks communication in all drive modes, and nothing about the V8’s power delivery feels urgent or immediate. All driver inputs feel like they take a little while to make it through the computers and out to the wheels. The GS F is quick to accelerate and can be driven fast through turns, but it’s not as enjoyable as a CTS-V… or anything else in the class, really. Of course, stablemates like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 come at a hefty price premium – almost $20,000 in some cases. But Audi and Cadillac offer more involving, just-as-luxurious experiences at basically same price point. The GS F is a good, new effort from Lexus, but it just can’t keep up with what’s already out there.
|2016 LEXUS GS F|
|OUTPUT||467 Horsepower / 369 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 Seconds|
|TOP SPEED||168 MPH (limited)|
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY||16 City / 24 Highway / 19 Combined|
|CARGO CAPACITY||14.0 Cubic Feet|
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com