2017 Lexus GS F Review
Isaac Bober’s 2017 Lexus GS F Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
2017 Lexus GS F
Pricing From $148,800+ORC Warranty four-years/100,000km Safety Not tested Engine 5.0-litre V8 Power 351kW at 7100rpm Torque 530Nm from 4800-5600rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive rear-wheel Dimensions 4915mm (L); 1845mm (W) – mirrors folded; 1440mm (H); 2850 (wheelbase) Turning Circle 11.2m Bootspace 520 litres Spare tyre repair kit Fuel Tank 66 litres Thirst 11.3L/100km (11.1L/100km on test across 650km)
WHEN THE LEXUS GS F lobbed Down Under last year it became just the fourth model in the F line-up. The go-faster F brand was spawned with the IS F V8 in 2008, followed by the LFA V10 in 2011 and the RC F V8 Coupe in 2015.
And, on paper, at least, the Lexus GS F certainly has the hallmarks of a modern performance four-door. There’s a stonking 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet, driving the rear wheels which Lexus, at the time of its arrival here, said brought “a new level of dynamism to Lexus Australia’s local offering”. And it was right, but then, just leaving a pair of sneakers in any one of the brand’s other offerings could have done that…
What is it?
The Lexus GS F is a large-ish four-door with a 5.0-litre V8 under its bulging bonnet boasting 351kW and 530Nm of torque which is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. When it was launched here, Lexus Australia chief executive Peter McGregor said: “GS F is the perfect complement to our line-up of exhilarating F models alongside the impressive RC F coupe.
“It matches a richly rewarding driving experience with the practicality and smoothness of a four-door sedan, offering customers the ability to transport occupants and their luggage in comfort and luxury.
“It brings this together with stunning exterior styling, premium driver-focused cockpit and a high level of standard specification to deliver an excellent value proposition.”
Now, the Lexus GS F isn’t cheap, with prices starting at $148,800+ORC and jumping to $151,700+ORC for the top-spec model but you do get everything that opens and shuts. The only real difference between the two is the type of seats they get, either Alcantara-trimmed seats (heated front and rear) or leather-accented seats (ventilated on the front seats only). Key extra cost options, include 19-inch alloys for $2500 and carbon interior bits and bobs for $2500. Standard features, include:
- high performance V8 engine
- eight-speed transmission
- four-mode drive mode select system
- Active Sound Control system
- SACHS shock absorbers
- Sport Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM)
- Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD)
- 19-inch forged alloy wheels
- Brembo brakes with orange callipers
- LED headlamps
- etched aluminium ornamentation
- 3-inch high definition display screen
- 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system
- three-zone climate control
- colour head up display (HUD)
- heated leather-accented steering wheel
- power rear sunshade
- smart key card
- 10 SRS airbags, and
- Lexus Safety System+ (includes Pre-Collision System (PCS), Active Cruise Control System (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Adaptive High-beam System (AHS)).
What’s the interior like?
In a word, busy. And that’s probably not the word that Lexus Australia was hoping I’d reach for when describing the interior. But, at a time when most car makers are pairing back the ‘busyness’ of their interiors by removing buttons and increasing touchscreen functionality, Lexus seems to have missed the memo.
There are literally buttons everywhere and some of them, like those for the climate control are in ergonomically, and safety-wise I would suggest, odd positions. The climate control functions are located very low on the centre stack and well out of either your eye-line or peripheral vision. Sure, I get that climate control is one of those set and forget types of thing, but I still think you should be able to adjust it when needed without having to look away from the road for too long. That’s not the case with the system in the GS F, and I think it’s a disappointment.
And, so too is the infotainment unit. I know that Toyota doesn’t want to ‘give-in’ and add Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity to its system, but it should. BMW wrestled with this for the new 5-Series, but eventually gave in and included so that those who wanted a simple interface could have it; and those that wanted the full iDrive experience were catered for too.
With the Lexus system, you’ve got to control the infotainment functionality with a mouse-like thing that is incredibly frustrating to use; think threading cotton through the eye of a needle. You’ve got to use the tiniest of movements to move the cursor to the too-many on-screen options with the result that as the car bumps, or you swerve off the road, you’ll end up overshooting what you were aiming at and select something you didn’t want. Indeed, just choosing a song from your connected phone can take an age and see frustration and temper flare as you try and toggle the cursor around the screen. That said, the sat-nav itself is good although the display is a little basic and you still need to use the mouse… it should be a better, simpler system.
Ahead of the driver is a digital display, similar in concept to Audi’s virtual cockpit display and it works well, displaying the sort of information you need to know. It changes depending on the selected Drive mode; more on this later.
The front seat(s) is supportive and figure-hugging without being overly so. There’s plenty of adjustment on the seat and so it won’t be hard for drivers of all heights to get comfortable, although some might find, like me, that the steering wheel (electric adjustment) doesn’t go high enough. This afflicts all Toyota/Lexus product, though.
Forwards vision is good, although the rear and rear-three-quarter view is a little pinched due to the sloping rear roofline and small glass areas. Luckily, when reversing, the camera offers a good field of view and while the rear sensors are good, I found the forward-facing ones to lack sensitivity only chiming when you’ve bumped the object; in this case, it was a hedge and done on purpose to see when the sensors would chime.
Climb into the back and it the low roofline and small glass areas mean it feels a little claustrophobic in the back. And the fact the easy-access front seat, which pushes back whenever the car is turned off (and can be adjusted, but I didn’t) means you can sometimes catch the feet of the person sitting in the back.
There are two ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats and top tether anchors on the parcel shelf behind the seats. There’s also air vents and climate and audio control for rear seat passengers (GS F offers tri-zone climate control) via the backrest of the middle seat (see photo below).
The boot offers 520 litres of storage space, but it’s quite a low and long space… I managed to fill it up with just half-a-dozen soccer balls and a kit bag, so, despite the volume it’s not an overly practical boot. And don’t bother looking for a spare tyre as there isn’t one; only a tyre repair kit, otherwise known as a can of goo.
What’s it like on the road?
It’s the noise you’ll notice first. Thumb the starter button and the GS F’s 5.0-litre V8 barks into life before settling to a hushed snarl. That V8 offers 351kW at 7100rpm and 530Nm of torque from 4800-5600rpm, it’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and, while on paper the transmission sounds genius, it can be a little clumsy around town.
The GS F offers a low first gear for initial take-off, but there’s quite a bit of delay when you press the throttle to anything happening; and then it all happens suddenly… and that careful take-off becomes a touch more hoon-ish than you were planning. Once up to around-town speed the GS F feels good (while ever your speed is varying), but once you’re travelling at a constant speed for even a short period of time the thing will select eighth gear to save fuel and fair enough, but it means if you nudge the throttle to overtake, it’ll drop a cog or two and accelerate harder than you needed to.
But, that acceleration, oh my… It’s intoxicating. And so is the noise that comes with it… but not all is as it seems. See, the GS F runs sound enhancement which is a way of saying there’s some artificial exhaust notes pumped into the cabin to make it sound gruntier, and that’s a little frustrating, because when you turn it off, yes, there’s a button in the cabin, the engine note sounds more than tough enough.
The exhaust itself isn’t some sort of duff unit, it’s designed to be functional and noisy enough that you know there’s a V8 under the bonnet but not so noisy that you’ll wake the neighbourhood when heading out early in the morning.
To ensure the GS F can make the most of its power and torque, there’s a higher proportion of high-strength steel sheet in the bodywork than regular GS models and additional under-body bracing to provide a more rigid structure. The GS F also has a wider body and tyres than the regular GS (5mm) and its suspension, brakes, steering, wheels and torque vectoring differential are all unique to GS F.
Around town, the GS F feels heavy, from the steering to the way it deals with bumps in the road. It feels bored. And if you never pointed it at a twisty section of road and gave it a bit of a tickle then you’d end up thinking the thing was all noise and nothing else. And quite a bit of fake noise, at that.
But, and you’ll need to toggle the Drive selector to Sport+ to really get the best out of the GS F. Once you do, it rewards with steering that feels connected, perfectly weighted and scalpel-sharp accurate; exactly the sort of steering you want when pushing a performance sedan like this. Indeed, it’s the steering that affords you the confidence to really lean on the GS F.
The gearshift tightens up too in Sport+ but not enough. The clumsiness it exhibits around town continue when you’re asking more of it at-speed. There really is so much to like about this car from a performance point of view, but the transmission unfortunately is not one of them.
But, luckily, they don’t take away too much from this thing’s performance on the open road. That said, the GS F still feels bulky mid corner where you’ll feel it heavily roll. Get past that sensation, though, and there’s plenty of grip thanks to the active diff which really is an active differential that’s able to shuffle power from side to side where it’s needed, or not needed, as the case may be. It creates a stable platform that’s able to power through corners quickly and efficiently and without the loose-bummed behaviour of some of its competitors; something which the majority of buyers will like.
What about safety features?
The GS F offers the Lexus Safety System+ which includes, Lexus Pre-Collision Safety System (PCS), All-Speed Active Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) and Adaptive High-beam (AHS). Lane Keeping Assist combines Lane Departure Warning (LDW), LDW+ (with steering control) and Sway Warning System.
In addition, there are 10 airbags strewn throughout the cabin, traction and stability controls, a proper torque vectoring rear differential, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, tyre pressure warning system, and hill-start assist. The Lexus GS F doesn’t have an ANCAP rating.
Why you’d buy one?
You don’t want to follow the mainstream pack of BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar is a bridge too far. You’re after reliability and a long features list with almost nothing to cost-option. You want something with a bit of grunt, but not too much with civilised on-road manners… you don’t want to feel like you’re wrestling a lion on the way to the shops.