For decades, the luxury performance sedan market belonged to the Germans. While BMW and Mercedes were carving “M3″ and “Cosworth-tuned 190E” into the world’s collective trees, the Japanese were hard at work ensuring that they had the other end of the automotive spectrum. These were the humble beginnings of the Honda Accord, the Toyota Corolla, and the Subaru Legacy.
But over time, as the fallout from the oil crisis in the 1970s subsided (having fundamentally changed how people look at and buy cars), Japan stretched its fingers in more radical and performance-oriented material. The original Acura NSX, Toyota Supra, MR2, the bizarre Subaru XT, and Nissan’s Skylines were all products of this environment and, in their own right, were fantastic cars. But performance sedans were always the bread and butter of the Germans.
Japan finally jumped in that ring (in the U.S., anyways) with the Lexus IS F in 2008. While it was a strong foot forward for the brand, it still didn’t have that balance the Germans had been perfecting for 25 years. Perfection, as it turns out, takes time. So Lexus is back at it, this time with the larger GS F.
The GS F was revealed officially earlier this year, but Lexus is now being more forthcoming with the details, as well as new images. We knew it would be powered by a 467 horsepower 5.0 liter V8, which we now know will be linked to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) transmission “for maximum sporty performance.” It can be yours for $84,440.
Though high, that price will include nearly every conceivable feature that Lexus can stuff the GS F with, and buyers only have two options: to spring for that fancy Mark Levinson sound system, or if you want your brake calipers painted orange. That should keep the paperwork to a relative minimum.
Tired of playing the role of the sedate luxury brand alongside Acura, Lexus has decided to take a polar-opposite approach with its new line. The look is polarizing for sure, but you can’t say that it’s bland or not-noticeable. Vibrant, wild colors — not exactly a Lexus hallmark — won’t help it blend in any either.
Lexus has added Normal, Eco, Sport S, and Sport S+ modes for optimum driving enjoyment. Power is shuttled through an adjustable Torque Vectoring Differential at the rear, to manage rear-wheel torque and assist with hard cornering when being spanked around a track. The TVD itself can actually be set for Standard, Slalom (which puts additional emphasis on steering response), and Track (which improves handling at at higher speeds).
Will the Lexus GS F wreck the bell curve and send the M5, E63, and S6 running for cover? In short, no. The Lexus comes to the bar but doesn’t push it. Will it be a bold, thoroughly satisfactory performance sedan? Undoubtedly. The IS F was Lexus’ first human launch into space — the GS F is the brand’s first moon landing. We’ll be able to weigh in more when we get our hands on one, but in the meantime, BMW and Mercedes are headed to Mars.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.