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Lexus GS F-Sport

KEEN drivers considering a luxury car will soon have a new reason to put a Lexus on their shopping list. An F-Sport version of the upcoming mid-sized Lexus GS is about to be revealed as the Japanese maker looks to duplicate the success of its IS F-Sport cars in a bigger body.

The GS-F is part of a progressive rollout of the new model that will also include a new hybrid and, eventually, a genuine hotrod GS with a V8 engine under the bonnet. Details of the program are confirmed by Koji Sato, deputy chief engineer of the GS, during an exclusive preview drive of the new car in Pasadena, on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

He says the regular V6-powered GS comes first, followed by the hybrid at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, then the F-Sport car at America's biggest hotrod and accessories convention in Las Vegas in the first week of November. "It will be revealed at the SEMA show," Sato says of the GS-F.

He also confirms that the youthful approach for the new GS is creating potential for more body styles, most likely a coupe. "We have made no decisions but we have many feasibility studies. Yes, a coupe is one. It might work better with this new GS."

The latest GS - which Carsguide drove in Los Angeles - is intended to slash the current age of owners by more than 15 years. "Current model is bought mostly by people who are in retirement. We want to have professionals from 30 to 40," says Sato. "This must be a conquest model. We must compete with BMW and Mercedes- Benz."

Sato says the progressive rollout of GS models is typical of the brand but intended to give more focus to the performance cars. The V6 sets the basic benchmark, with the hybrid focussed more on extra performance than electric city driving, with the GS-F to transform the car into an M5 rival.

But he refuses to discuss the potential for a V8 engine in the GS, despite the relative success of the IS-F - which still fails to match a BMW M3 or Benz C63 - with an eight in the engine bay. "We have no V8. Not yet," Sato says, with a smile.