Striking though the GS F’s exterior might seem, it’s positively meek compared with the car’s made-over cabin. Our test car featured red leather, black leather, black Alcantara with blue stitching, satin-effect inserts, carbonfibre accents and an array of textured plastics.
These surfaces range from genuinely luxurious to disappointingly scratchy, and some of the switchgear looks and feels from either a bygone era or a much lower class of car, but the wrap-around, high-back seats are comfortable, ergonomics are good and there’s genuinely room for four six-foot adults to sit in comfort. The infotainment system uses a generous 12.3-inch screen, but its joystick controller can’t match the efficient simplicity of, for example, BMW’s iDrive.
The GS F gets closer to the M5 for pace, giving away just 0.3sec to 62mph in a time of 4.6sec. This is partly because, while the Lexus’s V8 is 81bhp and a whole 185lb ft shy of the BMW’s twin-turbocharged unit, the GS F also weighs 155kg less.
In fact, the car feels surprisingly quick-witted on the road, its surface-hugging suspension and trick differential helping you deploy power effectively and with confidence. There are four drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport S and Sport S+, and the steering gains welcome weight in the final mode only, but is always faithful and offers a bit of feel.
Choose Sport S or Sport S+ to release the V8’s full potential and you’re rewarded with refreshingly sharp throttle response, but those expecting a linear power delivery might be surprised by the distinct hike in pace at the 3800rpm mark, when the induction noise changes from a subdued but robust warble to a bellowing growl. The charge continues all the way to the lofty 7300rpm rev-limiter where, if you’re in manual mode, it will faithfully remain until you upshift.
Yet the eight-speed auto gearbox is generally not so obedient. First gear has been designed to aid swift step-off, but in reality, if you’re creeping out of a junction and add more throttle, there’s a palpable delay before it responds. Kickdown requests are sometimes met with a stint of acceleration in the current gear before the ’box finally downshifts; at other times, it comes as requested but is swiftly followed by what feels like an economy-hunting upshift.