2017 Lexus GS F Japanese Hot Rod V8 Sedan
Most cars these days have every shrinking displacement, a number of cylinders and at the same time a growing number of turbochargers and superchargers. Suffice it to say that this good old-fashioned 5.0-Liter normally aspirated V8 that comes in the GS F is a welcome sight (and sound). With 467hp on tap, there’s plenty of scoot in this sports sedan, despite being a bit on the heavy side at over 4,100lb. Luckily there’s enough tire, suspension and technology to tame the weight.
The first time you walk up to the GS F, there’s an oddness to the overall look. It definitely grows on you with time, but there’s no getting past some of the boy-racer tack ons that make this look a bit immature. And for a car that someone is going to be shelling out almost $90k for, we feel a little more restraint in the design could have attracted more buyers. The big sedan really looks good on paper, with the big engine up front, rear-wheel drive and Lexus reliability and convenience. But what you end up with is a bit too much, even for enthusiasts like us.
Starting with the design, there are too many ‘details’ that have been added to the body that make the whole thing look pieced together. It doesn’t really have a good flow, and as a result, some angles look great while others look downright odd. On the inside, the materials and construction are great (despite having hollow-sounding thin plastic still towards the bottom of the door panels – Lexus/Toyota – Stop It!), but the seats have a garish swoopy pattern stitched into them that really doesn’t make sense. Even the driving experience is over complicated by too-many modes and dials and differential settings. Is the typical buyer of one of these even going to know what any of them do?
Well, even if they don’t – the gadgetry is fun to tinker with. And you can definitely feel the difference in the different modes. While some of the German sports sedans have a very antiseptic and reserved feel to them, the Lexus seems a bit more youthful – especially in the bright blue our test car came with. I’m not sure that Orange brake calipers are the best color match, but they are fantastic brakes so why quibble about such things.
Ultimately, the performance difference between the Lexus and its competitors is pretty small, even though they all have such different personalities. Unfortunately, however, the class is pretty much only judged on the performance numbers and this one is outmatched with 0-60 of 4.4 seconds and a quarter mile time of 12.9 seconds.
The handling of this big sedan is very sharp, and the available grip is very high – partially due to the killer Michelin Pilot Super-Sport tires. They really are some of the best maximum performance summer tires you can get. When you put the diff in Slalom mode, it wags the tail quite readily, but in track mode it isn’t much more controlled – tons of forward bite coming off corners while retaining the nice balance that the front tires provide.
Now there are two disturbing Lexus trends that unfortunately have made their way into this GS F sedan, and we wish Lexus would just stop. The joystick controller for the infotainment system is absolutely useless. I do not, for the life of me, understand what they were thinking here. It’s actually harder to use than just about any input device in a car. Coupled with the fact that Lexus feels the need to pump engine sound into the car’s audio system and you’ve got a couple of details that knock this sedan down a couple pegs. Luckily they provide a switch to turn off the audio intrusion, which we pretty much made sure was pressed whenever we drove it. The natural sound of the big V8 is much better to listen to anyway.
Overall, we do love the performance of the GS F. It may not be the fastest, or the best handling sedan we have had, but its quirky personality and boy-racer attitude mean it’s off-the-beaten path, automotively speaking. If you can get past some of the quirks (and that behemoth front grill), this is a car worth having. Is it worth nearly $90k? I’ll leave that up to you.