A Victory & Reseda review of the 2017 Lexus GS F
I command thee to never call the vehicle featured in this review as a "four-door RC F!"
Although, you could be a third right. When the RC was developed off of the current IS platform, it had to be done on a shorter wheelbase, but a more solid and distinctive platform. It was also given a more solid platform to induce coupe performance and agility characteristics that distinguish the RC from its IS or GS brothers.
Therefore, Lexus took the front end of the current GS sedan, melded it with the midsection of the previous generation IS convertible and the rest came from the structure of the current IS. Still, it works as a coupe. In my humble opinion, it works better as the RC F.
Of course, there were enthusiasts who were upset that Lexus did not develop a new generation IS F. the last one was a groundbreaker for Toyota's luxury brand as a way to compete against the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG sedans, The IS F of yore was iconic as a performance sedan that never gave apologies – just thrills. It was not perfect, but when is a performance sedan ever perfect?
Instead of another IS F, Lexus sought to do something more substantial. They thought that performance sedan customers desired a larger car with a high-performance engine. They saw how the E-Class AMG, M5 and CTS-V drew cults of their own – more than the M3/C-Class crowd.
The natural choice was to drop the naturally-aspirated, 467-horsepower 5.0 liter V8 into the hood of the GS sedan. The result is a sedan that weighs just 76 pounds more than the RC F, has a wheelbase jump short of five inches and is a hair over eight inches linger.
It sounds like the Lexus GS F might be the four-door performance sedan I've always wanted to drive all along.
It has been a long time since I drove a high-performance mid-sized sedan. Six years ago, I had a brief run in a Cadillac CTS-V and found it unworldly. Then again, I had not tried a lot of luxury performance cars in my time running up to this stage in this work. I was always afraid of the performance. That fear has since gone away and I was welcomed to try a lot of the world's most powerful machinery since.
The GS F is a similar proposition. The sedan itself is a product of a lineage of mid-size premium sports sedans with seating for five, performance that engages the driver and plenty of technology and luxurious appointments to make everyone feel special. This current generation follows this lineage with a tout package stretched over 193.5 inches on a 112.2-inch wheelbase.
Add the F element to the GS. The nose is from the RC F, grafted on with its mesh-like grille and deep lower gills. The vent behind the front wheels adds that F flair to the GS, heading rearward to a more mild-mannered rear end. That is if you forget about the carbon fiber rear spoiler, rear diffuser and four exhaust tips out back. The overall GS F look is finished off with 19-inch forged alloy wheels and Molten colored brake calipers. Let's not forget that stunning Ultrasonic Blue Mica color!
The F transformation continues inside with a few changes to the GS. One such change is the instrument binnacle, which appears straight out of the RC F. The center dial is a TFT screen that changes the drive mode but maintains a digital speedometer with an electronic analog tachometer. The gauges and information screens are to the left on an adjacent TFT screen. That screen is customizable but offers a lot of information for the performance driver. To the right is an analog speedometer, which I will argue is redundant. It is necessary for the space it uses. The GS F adds an available heads-up display, which makes checking the speed a much safer task.
The center stack starts up top with a 12.3-inch widescreen display for the Lexus Enform suite of services and all infotainment on board. It is a split screen that is also customizable and controlled by the Remote Touch "mouse" and other attached buttons on the console. Climate controls are lower towards the console, but within eyesight and touch for adjustment. Granted, the cupholders are further away from the gear lever, but you can fit a 32-ounce cup of soda pop without distracting any controls on the center stack. The gear lever itself is a short throw type through a staggered quadrant – just the way I like it!
The front seats are the same as the RC F – high back, racing-type seats that are both heavily bolstered and very comfortable. They work very well in the GS F for track days, the drive to the track, or a nice, relaxing – but, spirited – countryside hop. Even commuting.
Like the GS, the GS F offers real rear seat room. Though patterned after the front seats, the rear ones are very comfortable, enabling folks about my height – 6-foot-1-1/2 inches tall – to sit just fine back there. Plus, it has good trunk space – 14.3 cubic feet.
As I mentioned before, the star of the GS F is the 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8. This engine feels like its 467 horsepower. I cannot get enough of it. It comes with a sweet eight-speed direct shift automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels. Not to mention the set of drive modes that help turn up the volume to 10 – including my favorite: Sport S+. Not only does it hold the gears longer and induce a louder exhaust note, it also creates a heavier steering feel and tightens up the suspension. The Torque Vectoring Differential is standard on the GS F, which gives you an additional choice in terms of rear-end behavior. You can select between Standard, Slalom or Track. Luckily, I did not switch to either Slalom or Track on any occasion. I really did not need to, because rear end tracking is absolutely fantastic.
On a performance sedan, fuel economy is not exactly a priority. But, if you must ask, it averaged 21.5 MPG in my care. In fact, on a highway run, I got as high as 26.1 MPG. In a 467 horsepower performance sedan, that's pretty darn good!
When driving the GS F, one may think that they can see what it can do on a track. Not everyone takes a GS F to the track. Nor should you do so. The GS F does very well on the road – from Interstates to tight, winding roads. Granted, its 112.2-inch wheelbase is a bit long for tight turns, but you can do them with skill and ease. The Electronic Power Steering set is quicker and responds quite well to each turn. You can cut through the apexes, but the Lane Departure Alert
I was asked what kind of brakes the GS F has on them. Well, those orange colored caliper covers are indeed Brembo brakes. The front are six-piston monoblock calipers attached to 14.9-inch disc rotors, while the rears have a four-piston monoblock caliper on 13.5-inch disc rotors. Stopping power is great in both normal and panic stops.
If there is one advantage to the 112.2-inch wheelbase, it would be its ride quality. You expect a performance sedan to offer a firm, hardcore ride. The GS F offers a different experience. It is a smooth ride that is made for highway cruising. In other words, this premium mid-sized performance sedan will also drive like a luxurious premium mid-sized sedan. May I add that it rides like a premium mid-sized sedan with huge hammer underneath its hood.
How does all of this cost? The base price of the 2017 Lexus GS F is $83,940. My tester came to $87.310. When I discussed this fact with you out in the field, I got a lot of pushback on whether the GS F is worth the sticker price. While you can get a few performance sedans of it size for less, we cannot ignore the fact that there are more so-called iconic cars that cost much more. Let me not mention any specific models just yet…
Let me first state how much I love the Lexus GS F. On its own, it is a different kind of premium mid-sized sedan with loads of horsepower, a mass of thrust and a ride that is smooth and comfortable. It is a superb package overall.
However, I have a quandary. Readers of this site already know how much I love the RC F coupe. Which offers up a slew of comparisons between the two F models. As much as I hate comparisons, I can honestly state that the GS F offers a lot more in terms of what I am looking for in a car. Coupes are great for single guys like me or for couples without children. But, I am a practical person. I like sedans more than I do coupes. I prefer having another set of doors, real rear seat room for other friends who want to ride along and a larger trunk space to pack more stuff on any given road trip.
So, let's forget I mentioned anything of the GS F being a "four-door RC F." Frankly, this is much better.
Then, there's the looming comparison with other performance machines. The Lexus GS F may not be as powerful as, say, an S63 AMG or a Lamborghini Huracan. But, why measure the latest Lexus F car to something that costs well beyond the price of a fully-equipped LS 500?
Forget all thoughts of comparing anything to the GS F. It stands alone on many different levels. It fits my personality and any known or unknown alter egos perfectly. One may blanch at the price, but have you seen how much an E63 S AMG or M5 cost these days? Oops…I did another comparison…my bad.
The GS F is the kind of car that invites one to drive it. It also snubs its nose at the Germanic establishment and its fanboys. The GS F can only show you how to do a premium luxury mid-sized performance by being its own special self. This is why I love it so. It is different for a reason – to show you what it does instead of pose and brag about it.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Toyota Motor Sales USA
All photos by Randy Stern