Although it’s better known as a luxury brand, Lexus has made several performance cars in the past. The Lexus IS F sport sedan was one of the first; a match for the contemporary BMW M3. However, although the succeeding F-badged models were genuinely sporty, they were also in some ways dated. The LFA supercar, for instance, had an incredible V10 engine, but an outdated single-clutch transmission and navigation system. And as Doug Demuro recently explained, the Lexus GS F sport sedan is also a bit behind the times. But that does make it an excellent used sports car.
2020 Lexus GS F specs and intriguing features
Soon, the only examples of the Lexus GS-F available will be used. The 2020 model year, Car and Driver reports will be the sedan’s last year of production. As with many sedans (performance and not), slow sales have forced the cancellation. Part of the problem, though, may have also been the lack of significant updates. The Lexus GS F was last updated in 2016, and its engine originally debuted in the 2014 RC F.
However, said engine is definitely distinct from its rivals. The 2020 Lexus GS F has a 5.0-liter V8, rated at 467 hp and 387 lb-ft. And though it only comes with an 8-speed automatic, it’s also rear-wheel-drive only. That makes it something of a Japanese muscle car. Car and Driver recorded a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds, only 0.2 seconds behind the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. Only the Lexus sedan is noticeably more practical and luxurious.
It has a larger trunk than a Mercedes E-Class, for one. The GS F also has significantly more standard safety features than the GT350, including adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. Plus, its leather sport seats are comfortable even on long journeys.
But the Lexus GS F’s sporty touches are also well-considered. It has Brembo brakes, which can be colored blue at no extra cost. The engine cover also features matching blue highlights. Inside, the biggest gauge in the digital display is the tachometer—and it’s configurable. The torque-vectoring differential is also adjustable. There’s also plenty of carbon fiber and Alcantara.
Getting behind the wheel of the GS F reveals its best points. However, it also emphasizes its flaws.
Why the Lexus GS-F makes more sense as a used car
The naturally-aspirated V8 and rear-wheel drive really do sell the Lexus GS F’s old-school approach. Unfortunately, that’s both a pro and a con.
The differential, The Drive reports, helps the sedan handle like it’s smaller than it actually is. The adjustable suspension, Roadshow reports, is suitably plush in Comfort Mode, while Sport Mode makes it properly stiff and communicative. There’s more body roll than you might expect, Car and Driver reports. But it’s like a Miata in that regard: the rolling enhances the driver’s sense of the car. Even at normal speeds, the Lexus GS F lets you have fun. And the naturally-aspirated V8 is practically unique amongst today’s sport sedans.
However, said V8 is just one of the ways the GS F shows its age. For one, it’s down 133 hp from the current AWD BMW M5, which can go 0-60 in 2.8 seconds.
Handling- and performance-wise, the M Performance M550i is a closer match to the GS F. However, its 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 56 more hp and 166 more lb-ft. And yet, it costs less.
Value-for-money is arguable the Lexus GS F’s biggest flaw. The 2020 model starts at $85,010. But, although it has infotainment features like navigation and Apple CarPlay, it doesn’t have a touchscreen. Instead, you use a mouse-like device to select things on the infotainment screen. It’s simply not as good as a touchscreen. In addition, although its 8-speed automatic is smooth, it’s also slower to shift than its competitors’ transmissions.
However, while the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-AMG C63 may be faster, they’re not as reliable. Which is where the GS F starts regaining ground.
True, a brand-new Lexus GS F starts at just over $85,000. However, a gently-used one is noticeably cheaper and offers basically the exact same features. It’s possible to find examples for less than $40,000.
And as of this writing, the sedan has no issues reported on CarComplaints. Consumer Reports gave the GS lineup an excellent reliability score. In contrast, the BMW 5-Series’ reliability was ranked as ‘below-average.’ And the C-Class is only slightly better.
The Lexus GS F’s old-school nature may have meant for poor sales. But used buyers now have an excellent modern muscle car to play with.
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