Nothing prepares you for the GS-F.
Even after weeks of heated anticipation, the GS-F’s arrival out front dropped jaws. And whipped heads around with its sonics for anyone within a mile radius of the highest-performance Lexus four-door of all time.
The GS-F introduction for the 2016 modelyear joins a comprehensive GS revamp of the tech, style and powertrains up and down the lineup.
A new turbo four kicks off a nine-strong model range as the GS200t, while and this monster 467HP V8 tops the broad new GS offering. F Sport upgrades for the GS200t, GS350 and GS450h are all available, with the middle powertrains even offering AWD.
The GS-F is really the main event, however. It is the halo super-sedan to rival the M5 and E63 that Lexus fans and owners have been craving for years now.
Is Lexus’s bold attack on those fearsome rivals effective?
Read on, friends!
We loved this GS-F so much that it collected nearly 25-gigabytes of data during our week together. Drowning in GORGEOUS photos of the car, we’re trying to get our total pics and videos included here to about 120 in all, with the main (and ultra FAST) drive video the only one of five included in this full review. For video or DSLR superfans, though, be sure to check out the previous two GS-F posts to see a walkaround and LED blinker demo, exhaust startup and drive-modes comparison videos. Plus, at least two other photo locales versus the never-before-seen shots included in this article.
Hang on tight. We’re about the blast off!
How wicked is the GS-F in this caviar black paintwork?
How dark is its black chrome, exposed-weave carbon-fiber and anthracite accents all around?
Black as blindness, almost.
This car is seriously sexy up close. From even ten paces, and especially on the move, however, the GS-F is simply a new and much meaner breed of Lexus than any to come before. RC-F and IS-F included!
So dark, in fact, that we took mostly Nikon DSLR flash photography to bring out its dark details — even in bright, midday tropical sunshine!
The looks of the GS-F are exquisitely interesting, even without a change to the doors and glass versus the 2015 models. And even for the GS200t F Sport, in fact.
But the GS-F takes things to another level entirely. Triple-beam LED low and high-beams are standard, and integrate a new upper LED DRL strake to complement the free-standing lower LED arrowheads. The LED indicators are now embedded within the main lights, and form a sort of lightning-bolt of pure brightness when they are engaged.
Inner meshwork of the grille is darker than REM sleep, forming tiny overlapping “L” and “F” shapes on ultra-close inspection. Beside this chic new face are cheekbones sharp enough to cut glass.
Enormous elephant-ear intakes flank both sides of the blacked-out L-Finesse grille. Their layered edge catches extra brake-cooling air via dedicated ductwork, and they widen the vehicle radically versus any GS you have seen before.
All-new and GS-F-exclusive fenders up front have delightful — and functional — reverse air outlets just behind the front axle. This is a nice nod to the RC-F and a quick way to spot the GS-F on the road versus its also-sexy siblings with fewer cylinders.
Another key detail lives within the spider-spoke alloys: slatted discs the size of large pizzas for the brakes, and six-pot Brembo calipers all around. Semi-slick Michelin Pilot SuperSport rubber all around is a delightful detail. Giant wheels, of course, but also GIANT paws of contact patches. These are some of the widest front tires ever seen on a sedan.
Moving rearward, we have a dark grey finish for the side mirrors and a sleek black-chrome windowline surround. This is a cool detail. Like the single-frame grille’s edge, this finish is almost copper-like in certain settings. It is unique and special in the sun: showing off the large four-door cabin but also making clear this is no GS like ever before.
Back through the doors, the lower sills also take a wild new dimension and confidence unseen on Lexus sedans before.
Wild swoops extend the sills deep down from the door cutlines — flowing back from the front tire before sweeping into another swirl of jet-black bodykit ahead of the rear wheels. This is a 180-mph must for keeping this learjet ground-bound, and also helps create a negative vacuum effect: pulling hot air from the back axle’s standard Torque-Vectoring Differential and those race-ready brakes.
In the tail, we love the exposed-weave carbon spoiler, deep diffuser bodywork and custom rear bumper. All needed to house the stacked quad exhaust pipes in the outermost edges of the GS-F’s pert rump.
Three-dimensional blades of light form the red brake lights in LEDs, of course, while LED backup lamps and L-shaped LED blinkers in back complete the heavy mid-cycle redesign of the GS.
The cabin of the GS-F is a similar orgy of high-tech materials, layers and carbon-fiber. The huge and PERFECT driving position and sense of width are heavenly, as are the carbon one-piece seatbacks. Complete with slots to port in a five-point harness over both shoulders.
Is all this really needed on what is, at the end of the day, a Lexus?
The Alcantara suedes, white leather seats, black leather dash and all-new steering wheel might seem busy in this list-like description. But in the flesh, they all meld together to create a sinfully special sense of occasion, up front especially.
The only disappointment we have on the cabin of the GS-F? Exposed allen-head screws on the upper dash-top seem unsightly and cheap, even if they are bespoke, Lexus-branded and likely titanium alloy for lightness. These will certainly keep the dash locked down tight to the magnesium-alloy front firewall bracing that helps make the 2016 GS feel tighter and more rigid than ever. We’d wager heavily that there is extra weldwork, at the very least, throughout the body-in-white. And for the balls-out GS-F, a double-strong rear subframe keeps the car flawless around corners — in a way that matches the ultra-tough sense of rigidity in the back of the two-door RC-F. Impressive indeed when you consider this GS-F seats five comfortably and packs an extra pair of rigidity-sapping rear doors.
So pure, so incredibly low in its drive position. We simply marvelled at the upgrade of the GS-F cabin versus what has come before.
All this before even firing up the engine with a dab of the start button!
When you man up enough to wake the beast… Try to be prepared for some real five-sense shocks to your system!
This GS-F fires up with the racecar-like shriek of a true performance icon. With or without the active sound button engaged! ASC tweaks the shriek of this engine at speed through microphones in the intake tract of the machine. It ups the intensity of redline runs in what is perhaps a genius touch.
At idle, though, ASC is irrelevant. There is no silencing this marvellous V8’s deep, pure and even ignition and idle burble. Versus the Charger ‘Thundercat’ SRT392, the GS-F is less shouty out back in terms of exhaust rumble. But also much smoother and less lumpy than the 6.4-liter HEMI of the Charger from up front. With a purer sense of chain-driven, quad-cammed heaven.
Snap into drive and set off. The steering is instantly meaty and feelsome; heavy and pure like the best M5 of your dreams.
A dab into the accelerator in Normal mode gives a teaser-trailer of what is to come — IF you can resist the throttle for any longer.
And we COULD NOT RESIST!
Even half-throttle wakes the soul. The eight-speed automatic with rapid-fire paddle shifts is in the right gear nearly all the time, and thumps the Lexus from 10-40-mph like you just caught the best wave of the season, and rode it all the way onto the shore.
A twist of the drive modes knob to sport ups the ante, and Sport + takes us up to max attack.
Forget coffee, you rockstar commuters. This GS-F is like a sexy slap in the face as a wakeup alarm. Mmmmmm.
Sport + firms up the already-stout feel of the machine even more radically. The GS-F snaps to attention with new gauge layouts for its sport modes, extra-audible engine note, and quicker reactions for the steering, throttle and transmission map.
Full throttle starts from a stoplight are an effortless ~4-second blast past 55-mph. And this brings us to the TVD, or torque-vectoring rear diff mentioned above.
This extra control knob is standard on the GS-F, versus optional on the RC-F, and makes a HUGE difference in the car’s behaviour once the roads get twisty.
Normal, Track and Slalom are the choices, tailoring the diff’s character radically. Track is best for launches, we found (after shooting these videos, unfort, which are almost all in Slalom mode.)
Track tighens up the diff to get off the line with near-zero wheelspin and zero TCS/ESP intervention. It just sticks back there and never lets up.
Slalom, though, is the “Fun” button of your and my dreams alike.
Worried the GS-F would feel large and weighty on the back axle versus the RC-F? Don’t
Slalom mode makes the rear end feel like it is on lateral rollers sometimes. The GS-F relishes Slalom mode on corner entry, apex and exit. It peels off power and engine brakes like a WTCC car on approach. It makes the nose pinpoint-accurate at the apexes of a corner, and thumps out the other side of that twist in the road with an unforgettable feel. Just sheer bliss. So, so much fun.
The test GS-F came in at $87 and change. This is about double the entry price of the 2016 GS200t, but only up around $12k versus the GS450h F Sport.
Is this GS-F everything we’ve ever dreamed a Lexus 4-door supercar could be?
Despite being a newcomer in the M5/E63/RS7/CTS-V school, Lexus is taking a most unexpected approach. And this is the crux of why the GS-F is SO, SO special: those cars are all either AWD or force-fed with turbos or superchargers.
Neither for the GS-F.
Atmospheric induction means there is rightnow power and sound. Hardwired to your cortex and right foot.
Rear-drive means the nose is scalpel-sharp and just as eager to cut hard at the flick of a wrist. While down on power, fairly dramatically on-paper, versus those rivals… the GS-F has a purity that hasn’t graced a BMW since 2010. And as a result, the car’s true nemesis is up an echelon even from the AMG crowd: the $140,000 Panamera GTS for 2016 is the only other 4-door-supercar that competes with the GS-F’s pure, eyes-on-the-prize focus. Driving pleasure, forged in lightweight/high-strength alloys.
We have zero overall reservations in saying: the GS-F is as life-changing a car as the RC-F before it.
And bodes exceptionally well for the upcoming LC500 — and, indeed, every future product to wear the Big L.
10 out of 10. This is the car we have all been waiting for from Lexus. Just know: you are not prepared for its brilliance.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.