Lexus adds se­ri­ous sport to lux­ury

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Derek Og­den

The birth of the Lexus GS F was some­thing of a cloak-and-dag­ger af­fair, with team leader, en­gi­neer­ing boss Yuk­i­hiko Yaguchi, by­pass­ing of­fi­cial chan­nels to start work on what was to be­come the Lexus IS F V8 sedan.

Those after-hours ses­sions led to Mr Yaguchi be­ing in­volved in the RC F coupe and LFA su­per­car.

Now comes the GS F four-door sedan. Mr Yaguchi is still there, this time as emer­i­tus chief engi­neer on the project. The heart of the GS F is a 351kW 5.0-litre V8 mated with an eight-speed trans­mis­sion driv­ing the rear wheels.

As Lexus does, the big en­gine is aug­mented by a high-end range of stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion, such as four-mode drive se­lect and so­phis­ti­cated dy­namic man­age­ment.

It rises on 19-inch al­loy wheels, has Brembo brakes with or­ange calipers, LED head­lights, colour head-up dis­play, 10 airbags and 17speaker pre­mium au­dio sys­tem.

The base model hits the mar­ket at $162,008 on the road. How­ever, there is a shop­ping list of en­hance­ment packs, adding such things as leather up­hol­stery, pol­ished al­loy wheels and car­bon in­te­rior trim, which sees the range top out at $170,284 on-road. The lat­ter was the test ve­hi­cle.

Lexus’s large spin­dle grille, with dis­tinc­tive chrome “L” con­trast­ing with the dark mesh, dom­i­nates the front of the GS F, or­ange painted calipers peek out from be­hind pol­ished al­loy wheels and the rear fea­tures di­ag­o­nally stacked twin ex­hausts — a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the high-per­for­mance Lexus F se­ries.

At al­most 5m long, the car can­not be ac­cused of look­ing bulky from the side. The pro­file matches the car’s in­tent. The lines are linked front and back by Lexus F Sport bumpers, vents re­place foglamps and a rear spoiler sits atop the pow­ered boot lid above LED tail-lights. The GS F runs on Miche­lin Pi­lot Su­per Sport tyres.

Sports sedan or not, there is no sac­ri­fic­ing any of the lux­ury ex­pected of a Lexus. Thick pile car­pet mats adorn the floor, sports seats in the up­per mod­els are up­hol­stered in leather, while the driver en­joys an easy-en­try steer­ing wheel and seat slide.

Sun wor­ship­pers can bask in the glow by open­ing the tilt-and-slide moon­roof.

Front and cen­tre of the in­for­ma­tion sys­tems is the 12.3-inch LCD screen dis­play­ing live traf­fic alerts and rear-view cam­era image with mo­bile guide­lines.

A 17-speaker Mark Levin­son au­dio sys­tem in­cludes DAB+ dig­i­tal ra­dio and there’s Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity with au­dio stream­ing, voice con­trol for phone, dual USBs and aux­il­iary in­put plus two 12volt out­lets.

With vari­able valve tim­ing and di­rect fuel in­jec­tion, the 32-valve twin-cam 5.0-litre V8 en­gine pumps out 351kW of power at 7100 rpm and 530Nm of torque be­tween 4800 and 5600 rpm. Car­bon diox­ide emis­sions meet Euro 6 stan­dards.

Gear shifts with the eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion take frac­tions of a sec­ond, smooth­ing out the drive in all but the harsh­est ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Driv­ing plea­sure is en­hanced with the trans­mis­sion’s throt­tle blips match­ing the en­gine’s speed to the gear. The tachome­ter dis­plays the gear en­gaged.

Two G-sen­sors and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence swing into ac­tion for op­ti­mum sports driv­ing on wind­ing roads and adopt full con­verter lock-up from sec­ond to eighth gears in man­ual mode.

With a five-star safety rat­ing, Lexus GS F calls on 10 airbags for pas­sive safety, while a ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics man­age­ment sys­tem con­sist­ing of sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol, plus ABS anti-skid brak­ing with brake as­sist and elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion.

Oc­cu­pants of the test car also ben­e­fited from Lexus Safety Sys­tem+, in­cor­po­rat­ing high-speed adap­tive cruise and dis­tance con­trol, pre-col­li­sion safety with auto brak­ing, lane keep as­sist and blind spot mon­i­tor with rear cross traf­fic alert.

Be­fore any­thing else, the driver tak­ing his seat is greeted by an ana­logue speedo which tops out at 340 km/h, a some­what op­ti­mistic fig­ure I would have thought. Not that the GS F is lack­ing in per­for­mance.

Push­ing the start but­ton brings up an ad­ja­cent 8.0-inch dig­i­tal dis­play of in­for­ma­tion as­so­ci­ated with both street and track per­for­mance.

The set-up re­aligns to cor­re­spond with the cho­sen Lexus Drive Mode — Eco, Nor­mal, Sports and Sport S+ — pre­sent­ing key read­ings such as speed, revs, shift indi­ca­tor and rel­e­vant gear.

It has a claimed com­bined ur­ban/high­way cy­cle fuel con­sump­tion of 11.3 litres per 100km. The test ve­hi­cle used seven litres per 100km on the mo­tor­way and up to 16 litres per 100km in the city.

With 530Nm of torque, over­tak­ing is freely of­fered and as­sured. And while Lexus has made an art of keep­ing pas­sen­gers in­su­lated from out­side noise, speak­ers in the front and rear of the GS F cabin elec­tron­i­cally pro­duce sounds that rise with en­gine speed and em­pha­sises the ex­haust note be­hind the ve­hi­cle. The sys­tem can be turned off by the driver via a switch on the in­stru­ment panel.

With all ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity con­trols switched off, it is pos­si­ble to get the GS F side­ways, as I ex­pe­ri­enced from the co-driver’s seat with rally cham­pion Rick Bates be­hind the wheel on laps of Mal­lala race cir­cuit in South Australia ear­lier this year.

With safety sys­tems fully oper­a­ble, I found it im­pos­si­ble to un­set­tle the same car on the same track, the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing height­ened by the change in en­gine note un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The Lexus GS F is no AMG or M Se­ries, but be­ware, Benz and BMW, with a 4.6-sec­ond sprint time and en­gine tun­ing to match, it’s get­ting there. On the other hand, in the stan­dard of lux­ury for its oc­cu­pants, the Lexus is un­equalled.

The GS F is Lexus lux­ury with street-smart at­ti­tude. Pic­tures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

A rear spoiler sits atop the pow­ered boot lid.

Sports seats in the up­per mod­els are up­hol­stered in leather.

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