Buried deeper in the sales charts than it ought to be, Lexus’s GS is to often overlooked by luxury sport-sedan shoppers.
Admittedly, the competition here is ferocious. The GS goes head-to-head with the German brands that invented the segment. It’s available in a variety of iterations, ranging from mild to just this side of wild (it is a Lexus, after all).
Broadly speaking, the GS family comprises two models, the GS ($46,860) and the GS F Sport ($84,350).
Although they share the same rear-wheel-drive infrastructure, they are night-and-day different.
The GS is the everyman choice; the GS F is the one that signs up for track day.
A different animal
The GS is available in two trims: the 241-horsepower GS 300 and the 311-hp GS 350. Both are powered by the rear wheels, with AWD available on the GS 350.
Both can be outfitted with an F Sport package, which adds a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, sport seats, a Sport+ drive mode and a host of cosmetic and handling enhancements.
But today we’re looking at the GS F which, with its 467-horsepower V-8, is a different animal altogether. It debuted in 2016 to counter the likes of BMW’s M5 and the Mercedes-Benz AMG E63.
And, while its performance specs fall short of theirs, so does its $85,625 price of entry.
Its 4.4-second zero-to-60-mph time falls a second short of the class leaders and its handling lacks their precision.
It is, however, neither slow nor sloppy. It may be the segment’s most comfortable entry and the most forgiving when the road suddenly turns challenging.
Aggressive cornering produces just enough body roll to give the driver a sense where the cornering loads are building. Meanwhile, variable differential settings have a discernible effect on cornering capabilities.
Steering is high-point
The GS F’s steering is a high-point. The well-weighted system is responsive, precise and communicative. A strong on-center channel means the F Sport tracks true.
Most competitors use turbochargers to boost power, but the GS F runs a non-turbocharged V-8 that makes 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque. Its exhaust system is configured to allow a lofty 7,300-RPM redline.
The sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission makes shifts that are sure and swift. The driver can manually select the gears via steering wheel-mounted paddles, but the transmission seems most efficient when left to its own devices.
A set of driver-selectable drive modes establish the parameters and the algorithms sort it out from there.
Quiet, stable at speed
AWD is standard on the GS F, and its electronic torque-vectoring differential routes power fore and aft, as conditions and driving style dictate.
The F Sport is settled and stable at speed, and cabin noise is subdued. One sits low in the contoured sport seats, but not low enough to cause major ingress and egress issues. The back seats are adult-friendly but the seatbacks don’t fold, limiting cargo capacity.
In the cabin, carbon fiber trim replaces the wood or aluminum trim found in other GS versions. The front seats are deeply bolstered, supportive and finished with bold contrast stitching.
Fit-and-finish is outstanding throughout but materials quality and overall ambiance are less impressive than the Euro competition’s. Lexus’ Remote Touch infotainment interface, with its hard-to-control mouse-like input device, remains a Lexus sticking point.
Standard GS F features include leather upholstery, ambient lighting, a sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, dual-zone climate control with a smog sensor, LED headlights and taillights, 10-way power heated and cooled front seats, a track-inspired LCD instrument cluster, voice commands, and a 12.3-inch infotainment display with navigation.
Options include a 17-speaker, 835-watt Mark Levinson audio system, premium wheels, orange brake calipers, and a color head-up display.
Safety and driver-assist features include a backup camera, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and full-speed dynamic cruise control.
The GS F is not the ultimate track beast, but of all the high-performance sport-sedans, it might be the easiest to live with.
Questions or comments? Contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2019 Lexus GS F
Vehicle base price: $46,860
Trim level base price: $84,350
As tested: $88,210 (includes destination and handling)
Options: color head-up display; Mark Levinson surround-sound audio; orange-painted brake calipers; cargo net; carpeted trunk mat; key gloves; rear-bumper appliqué
EPA rating: 19 combined/16 city/24 highway