The Lexus GS F is a car that’s been on the starting blocks for several years. Lexus’s F-brand performance division was ready to launch it back in 2010, using the third-generation GS as a basis – only for global financial conditions to be deemed too hostile.
So it’s with a strong sense of relief that the Japanese firm is now finally getting ready to put its first full-size super-saloon into showrooms and slide another feather into the band of its cap.
Like the IS F, LF A and RC F before it, the GS F is an unconventional kind of performance machine that speaks volumes about Lexus’s alternative approach. If it were built by a German carmaker’s performance division it’d be more powerful, more expensive and turbocharged. All three facts would be inevitable in order to earn the car a place in the ever-escalating horsepower race that has defined Germany’s market for ’bahn-storming four-doors this past decade or so.
“We choose not to get involved in a fight we can’t win,” says chief engineer for the car Yukihiko Yaguchi. So instead of focusing on power and outright sledgehammer pace, Lexus counters with noise, excitement and ‘performance feel’. Its 471bhp 5.0-litre atmospheric V8 engine is the main conduit of all three, with a building torque delivery quite unlike the walloping mid-range of the turbo V8s now common in the niche.
Away from the engine compartment, Lexus has gone to rare lengths to give the GS F the tools it needs to take on the might of Bavaria.
New joining techniques, alongside bracing of the car’s body-in-white, add about 10% to the static torsional stiffness of the GS’s monocoque chassis, while lightweight forged aluminium control arms, new rear suspension mounts, lowered and stiffened springs and uprated ZF Sachs dampers bring sporting purpose to the suspension. Braking is by Brembo iron discs all round, measuring 380mm up front and clamped by six-piston calipers, and backed up by an enlarged hydraulic master cylinder.
If all of that sounds familiar, it may be because the RC F used many of the same ingredients. But the RC F’s main penalty against its rivals was weight. The GS F actually weighs significantly less than the current BMW M5 and less than a Mercedes-AMG E63, and it also gets the substantial torque-vectoring rear differential as standard that its two-door cousin offered as an option.