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Lexus GSF 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
6
Craig Jamieson road tests and reviews the Lexus GS F with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

The GS F provides something you wouldn't normally find in a four-door Lexus: genuine, old-school fun.

"It should be fun to drive, no matter who's driving or where they're driving it," says Lexus Australia chief executive Peter McGregor.

He may have a point; opening up the big, 5.0-litre V8 provides a giddy, childish rush that's impossible not to enjoy.

It's down on outright brawn against BMW's benchmark M5 but the GS F is powered by a true petrolhead's delight: a free-revving, naturally aspirated V8, with great dollops of grunt on the loud side of 4000rpm.

And while an automatic gearbox probably isn't the last word in involvement, the eight-speed in the GS F works hard to keep drivers interested.

Sensors measure how forcefully the GS F is accelerating, braking and cornering, then adapt the shift points accordingly.

Seats are comfortable, passenger space is ample but the media and navigation are just about unfathomable.

If, for instance, you're barrelling around a track, it'll hold gears longer so you can rev them harder, as well as automatically downshift as you brake for a corner. If you're cruising on the freeway, it'll change up early to keep things comfortable and quiet.

But the paddle-shifters really unleash the eight-speeder's true merits — downshifts take a mere 0.2 of a second, while upshifts take just 0.3 secs.

In full manual mode, the gearbox won't automatically change up a gear, even when you're bouncing off the rev limiter at a heady 7300rpm.

To keep things entertaining in the corners, Lexus has purloined a few ideas from its CCS-R race car, such as the clever rear differential, big Brembo brakes and lightweight, track-ready suspension.

Electronic torque-vectoring in the differential keeps the big Lexus remarkably stable, even at the ballistic speeds you can achieve on a track.

The suspension is brilliant but it's just too stiff and unyielding for Australian roads.

Huge brakes scrub off speed at an astonishing rate and will work time after time, thanks in part to their size but also because the angular nose funnels cooling air over the rotors.

The GS F is agile in a way that belies its 1865kg weight. The suspension is brilliant at keeping that mass in check but it's just too stiff and unyielding for Australian roads.

Such a ride would be almost acceptable in a hard-edged coupe but the GS F brief is a large, luxury four-door sedan.

Things don't get much better in the cabin. Seats are comfortable, passenger space is ample but the media and navigation are just about unfathomable — menus are too complicated and the controls border on light torture.

What's worse is the setup will lock you out on the move, so front passengers who want to connect their phone to Bluetooth or adjust settings will have to ask the driver to pull over, or attempt a speed run through the indecipherable menus at a red light.

The Mark Levinson audio looks impressive at first glance but the sound quality isn't on par with BMW's (admittedly optional) Bang & Olufsen job in the M5. It sounds properly appealing only when it's piping the sound of the V8 through the 17 speakers. Purists can switch the whole thing off. If they can find the setting to do so.

Verdict

The Lexus is a likeable car despite the terse ride and infuriating media setup. Wonderfully involving, properly fast and significantly cheaper than the cheapest M5, it's also unfortunately flawed in some key areas.

What's new

Price - It's $31,000 more than the next model down, the GS450h, but offers another world of performance. Priced like a BMW M3 but with M5 levels of space.

Technology - Standard fare includes lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and a pre-collision safety system.

Performance - The 5.0-litre V8 from the IS F has been reworked to deliver more power and torque in the GS F but economy suffers.

Driving - The suspension is all-new, using lightweight components that hold the GS F to the road brilliantly.Unfortunately, it's just too stiff for a car of this type.

Design - The GS F follows Lexus's overtly angular style, as seen on the RC F coupe. Visual cues to the manic LFA add a sporty vibe.

Would you consider a GS F over an M5? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Lexus GS pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$57,919
Based on 5 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$53,971
Highest Price
$58,950

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GS-F 5.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $89,100 – 102,410 2016 Lexus GS 2016 GS-F Pricing and Specs
GS-F ALCANTARA 5.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $86,130 – 99,000 2016 Lexus GS 2016 GS-F ALCANTARA Pricing and Specs
GS-F ANILINE 5.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $90,860 – 104,390 2016 Lexus GS 2016 GS-F ANILINE Pricing and Specs
GS200t F Sport 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $49,610 – 56,980 2016 Lexus GS 2016 GS200t F Sport Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6