Long before I hit age 40—which you would know happened just a few weeks ago if you’re a regular reader—I started to appreciate a car that could be both comfortable, and fast. The 2016 Lexus GS F, with its 467hp 5.0 V8 and excellent”F” emblazoned bucket seats screams “cross country cannonballer” much more than “track monster”. And that’s OK. It’s one of the most comfortable “fast cars” I’ve ever driven. Take a look at the video for more, and then keep reading for some additional ramblings.
(Full Disclosure: We’re cool with Lexus, and they loan us cars, but this drive was done at the annual Washington Automotive Press Association “WAPA Rally” where 150 automotive journalists scramble around all day spending about 15 minutes with each car. It’s a lot of fun! #waparally)
Is it better than an M5?
No, of course not, few cars are. However, the BMW M5 has a starting MSRP of $94,100 which is quite a difference. Do you “need” the additional 93 horsepower? Probably not. Lexus claims 4.5 seconds to 60 vs. BMW’s claim of 4.2 for the M5. That’s near-as-it-makes-no-difference in my book, and both cars are quick considering their size and girth. So unless you need the status of having the bigger, badder, ///M car, the GS F is a pretty spectacular way to spend $81,555 before options ($83,940 f0r the 2017 model).
The GS F is particularly entertaining in Sport S+ mode, the big Lexus V8 even blips the throttle on downshifts. Ok, we live in an era of speaker-assisted enjoyment, and this Lexus is no different, but damn if it’s not still good fun. Sort of like the Camaro RS, which at least uses a trick dual-mode exhaust vs. speaker cones, I know it’s a bit artificial, but I don’t care. Much like the potentially enhanced breasts of a GS-F owner’s significant other, it’s still a raucous fun, even if it’s not totally “real”. Pull back on the downshift paddle and you’re treated with pure…enhanced…aural pleasure; as you can see from the video, I really enjoyed myself.
Through the corners, it’s obvious that this isn’t a small car. At over 4100 pounds though, it’s admirably light compared to some sporty coupes I know of *cough* Challenger * cough* that weigh in at a linebacker-in-the-passenger-seat more. So for its overall proportion, it hustles around corners without much drama. I didn’t get a ton of seat time on a really windy road, but when I pointed the car somewhere, it went. It works for most of what GS F owners will ask of the car.
If you want a track car, go buy one.
Fast and Furious
As we’ve explained before, F is to M as M-Sport is to F-Sport. There’s probably an AMG version that I could have used, but couldn’t be bothered to look it up. You get the idea. So while the F-Sport iterations of the IS, GS and NX we have driven don’t really up the power quotient significantly, Lexus gives you the full F in the GS F. While the exterior is a little boy racer, what with the multi-spoke black chrome wheels, carbon fiber spoiler, body cladding, and other tuner car bits, I like actually like it. It’s a great way to buy into the fast car market while still having a comfortable, reliable, daily driver built by Lexus.
Inside, those seats still haunt my dreams. While not quite as hip hugging as the Recaro‘s you’ll find in a Focus RS or GT350, they do a great job of not only holding you where you should be, but being pretty freakin comfortable. And as a newly “older” dude, I’m totally into that. Driving as many cars as I’m fortunate enough to get to drive—humble brag—I’m becoming a bit of a seat snob, and the GS F buckets rank up there with some of the best.
Would I Buy One?
Hell yes. Lexus has managed to tow the line between Nurburgring run and Whole Foods run, understanding better than most that the latter is more a part of daily life than the former. Do you need over 500 horsepower for anything other than bragging rights? Of course not. So the ample horsepower and torque (389 lb-ft @ 4,800) from the V8—which oh-by-the-way still gets almost 20 MPG—gets the job done for almost everything you ask of it. Will it lap a track faster than an M5, not likely. Is it a masterful compromise of speed for comfort, very much so.
Bonus Gallery (Natural Habitat, etc.)