Lexus is flexing its muscles in the automotive world, extending their presence in the world of luxury high-performance vehicles, traditionally dominated by the Germans. Lexus is hoping to change that, with cars like the brilliant IS F and new RC F coupe, built to rival BMW’s almost flawless M3 & M4 machines. The latest model to join Lexus’ high-performance “F” range is the new 2016 Lexus GS F.
Perhaps it is easiest to think of the GS F as a regular GS sedan that has been fed a steady diet of protein shakes and anabolic steroids, whilst hitting the gym daily. Hitting it hard. The GS F continues the Lexus tradition of being a rear-wheel-drive, four-door sedan and it will most likely be offered in one well-appointed trim level and comes standard with most of the features, just like it’s RC F cousin.
Under the GS F’s sculpted bonnet will sit a rather familiar 5.0L, 351kW naturally aspirated V8 engine, matched to an eight-speed automatic, which will route power to the rear wheels only. A standard torque-vectoring differential will allow precise control of power sent to each of the rear wheels, making the GS F feel stable at high speeds and agile at low speeds. Performance figures have not been announced yet, but you can expect a 0-100km/h time of around 4.5 seconds – similar to the RC F. But will the GS F also suffer from the same issues RC F drivers have been complaining about?
The biggest potential problem? Kerb weight. The RC F tips the scales at 1860kg, where it faces up against the BMW M4 which is more than 300kg lighter. It is difficult to imagine the GS F being lighter – in fact it’ll almost certainly be heavier. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the Lexus 5.0L V8 is naturally aspirated, meaning peak power and torque arrives rather late – at 7100 and 4800rpm respectively. The BMW M3 & M4 both have punchy, turbo-charged engines meaning their peak power arrives much earlier. In my view, the GS F will need to perform a miracle in order to compete with the German’s in a straight line, perhaps it’ll make up for it in the corners?
Unlikely. The RC F’s weight issues made themselves known in the bends, with the nose wanting to push wide on tighter corners, although it did manage to disguise its extra bulk well, thanks to sharp steering and well-tuned suspension that struck a balance between keeping the car planted and cocooning occupants from the potholes and corrugations. How the GS F fairs remains to be seen.
Word is there will be no adaptive suspension, and because the GS is a sedan, the ride quality should be slightly more compliant than that of the RC F. Grip comes will be provided by Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires – 255/35’s on the front and massive 275/35’s on the rear, wrapped around 19-inch forged aluminium wheels. Also seen in the photo above are the huge six-piston brake calipers on 15-inch rotors – though thankfully the orange paint is optional.
The cabin will be typical Lexus – dressed with carbon-fiber accents, the parts-bin F steering wheel and a huge, centrally mounted tachometer, ala every performance Lexus since the LFA. The new seats are contoured, stitched, and perforated to look like skin-tight athletic apparel. Sexy.
For now, we’ll all have to wait and see how the GS F turns out when it is released in Australia, most likely sometime in 2016. While it certainly won’t hold a candle to the BMW M3/M4 or the newly released Mercedes-Benz AMG C63, perhaps it’ll crack open a niche for luxury sports sedans that favour finesse over outright power. Progress is well and truly under way, and I can’t wait to find out.