471 horsepower doesn’t sound like much, but not too long age that’d be a hefty output from a standard sized 4 door saloon. Things have gotten a little bonkers since, in the power aspect of hot saloons. 577bhp by the Mercedes AMG E63 and a whooping 592bhp output from the BMW M5 Competition Edition; seems like manufactures are sprinkling horsepower here and there, ready to be taken up by anyone with the means to do so. We live in a time where 471bhp doesn’t count for much but that’s what the Lexus GS F is arming itself with in its battle against the titans.
This is not a conscious effort on Lexus’s part to make a declaration of war against its German horsepower crazed rivals, it’s about delivering a simple 5.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 engine without utilizing turbo power, the kind it’s German rivals like Audi, Merc and BMW are resorting to.
Speed! Power! That’s what petrolheads living on the edge seems to crave for. However, the ridiculous amount of power surging through the likes of German machineries will have the most crazed petrolhead taking his/her foot off the pedal after a few seconds of full throttle.
The Toyota luxury brand is setting up its own playground with its own rules; sticking a thumb at the Germans in mock flattery for their horsepower war, Lexus is presumably giving its customers “less for more”; putting in a practical amount of horsepower that wouldn’t have you shrieking and diving for the brakes every few seconds. With a 0 to 100km/h time of 4.6 seconds, this is a car you can use and truly appreciate on the road. Needless to say, it’s still fast, just not as fast as the others. Being naturally aspirated, the power it does offer is accessible instantly with the roar of thunder which is music to any petrol-head’s ear.
With a torque peaking at 4800rpm and power at 7100rmp, you’ll find yourself gunning for the redline at 7300rpm quite frequently. That compounded with the noise of the non-aspirated engine ensues you’ll have a driving experience that’ll put a smile on your face each time. The V8 will kick things up a notch at 4000rpm and let out a wail almost similar to the iconic 4.7 liter V8 in Maserati GrandCabrio. The howl could use a tone up though; it’s too muted in even Sport+ mode. In spite of the low volume, the super revvy engine dominates the entire driving experience.
The chassis is not to be overlooked though, the steering is smooth and you get decent feedback and the body seems to slide along rough terrains. Give the GS F some bends and it’ll show you exactly what it is made of. It glides through the curbs, maintaining a lingering sophistication and elegance hard pressed to find a match. Taking a turn on high speeds isn’t rocket science in this vehicle, the tyres have enough grip to sail smoothly past any bend without being skittish.
Not all is well in the luxury line of Toyota though, there are some issues with the GS F which could stave you off. Firstly, the seven speed gearbox is downright distressing; it never feels “quite right” in auto mode and shifting down manually with the paddles is sluggish at best. Furthermore, having a significant power deficit that its German counterpart, the GS F isn’t very cheap although having the torque vectoring differential does add some significant value to it. Worst of all is the joystick one uses to navigate the information/entertainment system. It’s bad to the point of being unusable for almost anyone.
If you are really into the whole idea of getting a Lexus, the price isn’t too bad. Unlike the expensive options in Mercedes, Audi, and beemer, there isn’t a whole lot of choices to ponder upon and that’s a good thing. From the 10-way adjustable Leather-trimmed seating with black carbon fiber accents to the Dynamic gauge cluster and the 12.3 inch split screen multimedia display, almost everything you might want comes as standard with the car.
Credit must be given to where it’s due, Lexus is burning the naturally aspirated flames for a little while longer whereas its competitors have switched to forced induction. A bulky car like this really doesn’t need its engine pushing the 600bhp door. The sweet sounding GS F gets my nod of approval. It’s an inspiring V8 hero aspiring to do what others are afraid of and it’s a refreshing alternative to all the other super saloons out there.