First Drive: 2016 Lexus GS F


Never bring a knife to a gun fight. It's an old adage, but apparently one that Lexus decided to ignore with the GS F. These days if you're wielding a big V8 you really need 500bhp before you get any respect, and here's Lexus coming in with 'just' 477bhp. And a miserable 391lb ft of torque as well.

The BMW M5 could manage 600bhp from it's 4.4-litres in some versions, but then that BMW wasn't exactly an involving, characterful car. Perhaps this is where the GS F can make a comeback.

It certainly looks different, in a way that only the Japanese can manage when they set their minds to it. The Azure blue colour is eye-catching, and it contrasts nicely with the carbon lip spoiler, which really is carbon, as well as the forged grey alloys and orange Brembo calipers.

Inside there are some echoes of the LFA supercar, with a cabin that features contrasting stitching, aluminium and carbon and a high-def display. The central screen is simply huge and, although there is a synthetic engine note plumbed into the cabin you can at least turn it off, at which point you really a really great noise.

Avoiding the multi-turbo route, the GS F sounds and behaves differently, like a big V8 ought. It needs to rev, as evidenced by maximum torque only starting at 4800rpm, but that just gets more fun the more you do so. There are plateau in the power delivery, like you're riding a wave that gets bigger by degrees. Keep the throttle down and let it rev out and you're in Really Exciting Ville.

The eight-speed auto works slickly but for best results you want to be flapping the paddles in Sport or Sport Plus modes. This allows you to ride that last big lunge to the redline that makes this car somewhat different to even more powerful competitors.

In the handling department there are just passive dampers but with a multi-function Torque Vectoring Differential. On the road the set up works surprisingly well once you're rolling. There is a pleasing flow to the handling, allowing you to keep it moving smoothly. The chassis is set up to stop you being silly, which is a touch disappointing, but if you keep revving the engine through the gears you'll soon find you're going considerably quicker than you planned. It's that kind of car.

However, your average journey time may not be so brilliant since we got fuel consumption under 20mpg averaged over a week, so you'll be familiar with fuel stations. But, hey, you've got a 5.0-litre V8 to feed, so what's the surprise?

This really does feel, look and behave differently to most of the cars in this sector, which have more power but less soul and perhaps more similar appearances. That Lexus can come up with such a balanced package, combining a lot of desirable qualities into what is almost an old-school car, is a real credit to the company.

And that price really does give you the lot. The ?69,995 list price gives you all you could think of, bar just a couple of options, bringing it in under the base price for the base BMW M5. It's different, and it's great. We like that.

Lexus GS F
  • Engine: 4,969cc, V8
  • Transmission: 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
  • Power (hp): 477@7,100rpm
  • Torque (lb ft): 391@4,800-5,600rpm
  • 0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 168mph (limited)
  • Weight: 1,790kg (Lexus minimum kerbweight)
  • MPG: 25.2
  • CO2: 260g/km
  • Price: ?69,995