|Positives: Thrilling to drive, roomy enough for five, truly comfortable interior appointments, just aggressive enough in appearance to be intimidating, excellent naturally-aspirated power.
|Negatives: No adaptive suspension or manual transmission, painful infotainment system is dated and hard to use, pricey.
|Bottom Line: The GS F is a seriously good modern sports sedan with a rarely used V8, turbo-free engine that just keeps on delivering the goods. It's also a bonafide family sedan with ample space and comfort. Just try to get past the poor infotainment system and controls, and you'll be thrilled with it.
Even though the GS F is a heavy car weighing in at 4,034 lbs, it's surprisingly rewarding to drive. It just has one big thing working against it, which is the transmission. Fortunately, the adaptive cruise control doesn't work in stop-and-go traffic, making it only useful when things are flowing on your commute.
Ride Quality: Though there's no adaptive suspension in the GS F, engineers have figured out how to give it the right balance between compliance and sportiness. It felt comfortable enough over rough pavement and capable enough when pushing it harder.
Acceleration: The 467 horsepower V8 works well with the paddle shifters in manual shift mode for the 8-speed automatic transmission. 0-60 comes in the mid four-second range. It's not as fast as its European competitors, but it's plenty quick for most humans. The engine is silky and pulls hard at all RPMs.
Braking: The Brembo brakes provide good stopping power and good pedal feel that remains progressive. Stopping distances, however, are about average for the segment. Remember, this is a heavy car.
Steering: The steering is sharp, responsive, and it provides excellent feedback and effort. This is the right steering setup for a car like this.
Handling: The car's open differential settings provide superb handling, and the slight body roll helps you feel the limits of the GS F's cornering abilities.
If there's one thing we could change about the GS F, it's the infotainment system and its controller. Neither of these belongs on a car that's this fun to drive and this well-built.
Infotainment System: Phone pairing is quick, just like every other Toyota/Lexus, and the huge 12.3-inch screen is vivid and easy to read. It's just the dull looking menu icons and the slow response that make the experience infuriating. Also, there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, so you have to resort to the rather dated system.
Controls: The mouse controller is horrible and vague in its motions. It's so easy to overshoot your selection, it makes using the Enform controller distracting while you drive.
The Lexus spindle grille has been a polarizing styling element from day 1, but on the GS F it looks perfect. The GS F is a bit more conservative than the RC F, but there are still some angular and angry elements that draw your attention. We like the overall look, especially with the excellent wheels, dark mesh, and contrasting brake calipers. The interior is also a good match for the exterior.
Front: The big black mesh grille and tapered headlights look menacing. The dark chrome grille surrounds complement things well.
Rear: We love the offset and stacked exhaust outlets, as well as the tasty and genuine carbon fiber spoiler.
Profile: The front end looks a bit thin from this angle (compared the the large rear portion of the greenhouse), but we love the huge brake cooling ducts and the dark alloy wheels and orange brakes.
Cabin: The grey leather seats look like angry hooded cobras with their wide race-ready appearance. The modern dash, big analog-digital instrumentation is easy to read and attractive, and the copious use of Alacantara throughout the cabin gives it an upscale look and feel. We just don't like the bulky and non-sporty looking steering wheel hub.
Along with the Lexus RX crossover, the RC grand tourer, and pretty much all of the Lexus lineup, the GS F is superb when it comes to comfort for all occupants. Materials are generally excellent, and the seats are some of the best we've tested.
Front Seats: These big sporty cobra-hood style race-ready seats are supportive and very well-cushioned. The seat contouring is ideal, as is the adjustability. We could spend hours in these without tiring.
Rear Seats: The outboard positions are well contoured, providing good support. There's also ample head and legroom, but the middle position suffers because it's essentially a folded-up armrest.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The cabin is quiet and well-crafted with the only real noticeable noise as the engine note piped into the cabin, which sounds pretty good, anyway.
Visibility: The lower hoodlines and big windshield provide excellent forward visibility, and the rear parcel shelf isn't high so sightlines out the back are quite good.
Climate: The climate system is responsive and easy to use, providing ample amounts of cold air on 95-degree summer days.
The GS on which the GS F is based hasn't been fully tested, but it does get good marks for partial test segments. It also comes standard with a solid set of safety features.
IIHS Rating: It scored "good" in the moderate offset crash, side impact, as well as rollover categories.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The GS F comes outfitted with Lexus Safety System + that includes a Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beam Headlamps, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Lane Keep Assist.
Optional Tech: The optional color head-up display makes driving safer by keeping your eyes on the road. It's vivid and easy to read.
Though there's not a huge amount of storage spaces in the GS F, there's enough to house small items and keep them at hand. Trunk space is on par with the segment, neither small nor voluminous.
Storage Space: The retractable door in front of the shifter houses two large cupholders, and the Alcantara-covered armrest is good for out-of-sight storage. The door pockets are short, unfortunately.
Cargo Room: Cargo space in the trunk is 14 cubic feet, a tad smaller than the Audi S6's 14.7 and far smaller than the BMW M5's 18.7. The seats don't fold down, either. There's just a small pass through.
Since there's no fuel-saving turbos on this car, instead a somewhat thirsty V8, you won't see the 18/27 mpg that the Audi S6 gets. That being said, we actually expected lower numbers based on our liberal driving habits.
Observed: 17.6 mpg
Distance Driven: 210 miles
Driving Factors: We drove in Sport and Sport+ modes exclusively under fairly spirited conditions. More conservative drivers should be able to hit the 16/24 epa estimates.
Unfortunately, we didn't get a tester with the superb Mark Levinson 17-speaker system, but the base system is actually still pretty good and provides full and clear sound. It's not nearly as rich as the premium system, but you'll be too busy thrashing around in the GS F to notice too much.