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2016 Lexus GS F First Look

Grade F Offensive: Four-Door RC F Seeks Good Times, Five Passengers

Benson Kong
Jan 6, 2015
Photographers: Julia LaPalme
"The Lexus proved the most entertaining, rewarding, and confidence-inspiring up, down, and along our demanding Malibu road loop. Ultimate driving machine? Oh, yeah." That was executive editor Ron Kiino's stamp of approval on the comparison test-winning GS 350 F Sport ("Midlife Medicine," June 2012) after it outslugged the Audi A6 3.0T, BMW 535i, and Infiniti M37S.
Quoth testing director Kim Reynolds, "When I figure-eight tested the car, I actually yelled out, 'I can't believe this is a hybrid!' as it oversteered out of the corners ..." His words refer to the comparison test-winning Lexus GS 450h ("Tracking the Field," July 2012), which zapped the Infiniti M35h and Porsche Panamera S Hybrid in a laser tag death match. Speaking of oversteer ...
"RC F is easier to drive because of the shorter wheelbase ... tradeoff for ride comfort on GS F," responded Yukihiko Yaguchi, Lexus chief engineer for both cars and the retired IS F, to our inquiry on whether the F coupe or sedan is easier to drift. So we're not anointing any comparison winners at the moment, but it's safe to say we've found the current-generation GS charming. And with 200 potentially charming GS Fs pegged for sale in the U.S., the long-rumored hot GS will further cultivate F's core brand value of accessible performance. A common thread emerged while questioning the chief.
Photo 2/84   |   2016 Lexus GS F Front Three Quarter
MT: How would you explain F's "accessible performance?"
Yaguchi: "Safety, reliability/predictability, driver information/feedback ... all through a responsive engine, drivetrain technology, and chassis that still acknowledges ride comfort, which is easy to manage at the limit. After driving, the limits seem to become more understandable with the driver because the car's design helps develop confidence quickly."
MT: What one driving feature would you implore someone who's never driven a GS F to look for?
Yaguchi: "The key F brand attribute: easy to drive, fast, and fun."
Those searching for fast, fun, and four-door practicality with F'ed up sheetmetal (schnoz, hood, vented fenders) will encounter a classic sports-car recipe with hearty technological twists. A naturally aspirated engine (Yaguchi's only choice) mounted ahead of the cabin spins the rear 19-inch forged-aluminum wheels wrapped in 275mm-wide Michelin Pilot Super Sports (255mm up front). The engine is the 467-hp 389-lb-ft 5.0-liter V-8 shared with the RC F, which borrowed the IS F's lower block and then saw every other piece reworked through a technical collaboration with Yamaha. The direct- and port-injected V-8 is a revver with peak power arriving at 7,100 rpm, though the crowning achievement is the ability to switch to the Atkinson cycle -- the same employed by the GS 450h and mpg-whiz Prius -- when cruising. The cycle facilitates later intake-valve closing for greater efficiency at the expense of max available low-end power. By governing the intake camshafts with an electric motor, the RC F (16/25/19 EPA mpg city/highway/combined) comfortably skirts the gas-guzzler tax, sitting 12 percent above the levy threshold. We expect the GS F, projected to about match the 4,045-pound RC F on our scales, to do the same.
Photo 9/84   |   2016 Lexus GS F Rear Three Quarter
There's nothing classic about an eight-speed automatic transmission, but it'll automatically shift quickly or take your gear-change summons through the steering wheel paddles. The power flows downstream to the standard torque-vectoring differential (a $1,750 option on the RC F) with driver-selectable standard, slalom, and track settings. Says Yaguchi, "[TVD] suits the character of GS F, and also considering the vehicle class, I thought it should be standard to really help the driving character of this sedan." The rest of the car was dialed in the old-fashioned way, with boots on the ground at racetracks including Autopolis, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and Toyota home turf Fuji Speedway. Apart from additional chassis braces, the GS F doesn't add much extra. Adaptive suspension? Don't need it. Variable-ratio steering? Nope. Carbon-ceramic brakes? The slotted and vented steel rotors should hold up. Electrically controlled rear steer? Your right foot can steer the rear, can't it?
When you're not turning the GS F in anger, the interior will treat you as with any other GS. Because comfort was a concern, the exhaust mufflers were insulated more than with the RC F to extract "milder (more elegant) sound," per Yaguchi. As has become routine for performance vehicles, the GS F comes with Active Sound Control noise augmentation (only heard with Sport S+ mode in the RC F). A few items to note for the debut show car on these pages: U.S.-spec interiors will be roller-brushed red, black, or gray, not in the two-tone scheme pictured; orange calipers are optional (black standard); and the production side-mirror caps will be a darker shade of gray.
Time to scratch the burning itch.
MT: For 25 years, Miata supporters have had to deal with oppositionists saying their car doesn't have enough power. Do you see a similar parallel coming between the F brand and fans of BMW M, Mercedes AMG, Audi RS, etc.?
Yaguchi: "We don't compete based on head-to-head performance or stated power."
Rather, he says the F brand focuses on making its high performance more easily accessible and hence more enjoyable than that of the competing brands, so his team was not hamstrung by achieving benchmark numbers. Interesting. Those GS comparison winners both looked outgunned on paper, too.
Photo 19/84   |   2016 Lexus GS F Engine
Photo 35/84   |   2016 Lexus GS F Badge

2016 Lexus GS F
BASE PRICE $75,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 5.0L/467-hp/389-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT 4,050 lb (mfr est)
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 193.5 x 72.6 x 56.7 in
0-60 MPH 4.3 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 16/25/19 mpg (est)
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 211/135 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.02 lb/mile (est)
ON SALE IN U.S. Late 2015
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