Lexus' latest F performance model, the GS F super saloon, will make its European dynamic debut at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, driving up the hill climb course under the control of Toyota Gazoo Racing's Mike Conway. The car won't be timed during its run, but the demonstration will at least provide the UK public with its first chance to hear the GS F's atmospheric V8 before the car goes on sale later in the year.
Lexus began its F performance marque in 2007 with the IS F, a direct competitor to the E90 BMW M3. We quite liked the 417bhp Japanese sports saloon and had an endearing relationship with one in our Fast Fleet. Then came the brilliant 552bhp LFA supercar, followed by the BMW M4-battling RC F. The carmaker's latest model, the GS F, finally drops Lexus straight into proper super saloon waters, battling the likes of the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG.
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But the spec sheet makes you wonder if the GS F brings enough muscle to the fight. Idealistic dreams of an E60 M5-like Lexus with the 9000rpm V10 from the LFA haven't come to fruition. Instead, the GS F’s 5-litre V8 is shared with the RC F.
Output is unchanged at 471bhp and 391lb ft of torque. That’s well short of the 550bhp+ mark set by the latest German competition. On the plus side, the 1830kg Lexus is a shade lighter than its rival from Affalterbach over 100kg less bulky than the super saloon from Munich. Plus, the lemming-like trend towards turbocharging means the honesty and linear throttle response of the GS F’s naturally aspirated V8 is welcomed.
Before you question the environmental impact of this apparently antiquated setup, keep in mind the big Lexus V8 utilises both Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles - the latter familiar to drivers of the fuel-sipping hybrid models - improving efficiency. An eight-speed torque-converter automatic should also help, routing the power to the 275mm rear tyres and keeping the engine nearer idle speed during motorway slogs.
Lexus claims the GS F is equally content once you leave that motorway, even if the deviation involves a circuit. They state their latest sports saloon features a 'genuine dual personality, equally adept at trimming lap times and the commute back home.'
The Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD) from the RC F comes standard, and should help. It’s a particularly trick setup, with electric motors, clutch packs, and planetary gears. No word on whether the GS F steals the GS 450h F Sport’s rear-wheel steering, but it seems likely. We’ll learn all the details when the GS F arrives in UK showrooms later in 2015.
Sure, the polarising Lexus design language as well as the seemingly meagre power output may disappoint, but if the GS F lives up to the company’s breadth of capability assertions and the price undercuts its adversaries, all could be forgiven.
If you want to see (or hear) the GS F at Goodwood, more details about the event and its timetable can be found here.