New Car Previews

Preview: 2016 Lexus GS F

BMW M5. It’s the benchmark; the all-knowing, all-conquering German sports sedan. And when you’re the best, you will perpetually have a target on your back.

Lexus, armed with their insurgent F brand, has fired the first dart at that target. Its name is the GS F. But, are its 467 hp, 389 lb-ft 5.0L V8 enough to hit the bull’s-eye?

In reality, the Lexus GS F won’t be the M5 competitor Lexus loyalists hoped it would be. Instead, thanks to a 100+ hp differential between the two models, the GS F will be aimed at the 420-hp Audi S6 or 443-hp BMW 550i available in Canada solely with xDrive all-wheel drive.

The new GS F, the largest sedan given the full-on F treatment, is meant to be a pleasant daily driver with the chops to tear it up at the track. It will have the go-fast goodies of some more powerful competitors, but likely priced closer to those in its own weight class as it easily beats those models in performance numbers.

The engine under the hood is the same 5.0L found in the RC F and does arrive with a horsepower advantage over its Bavarian counterparts, yet it is down significantly when it comes to torque (the BMW cranks out 479 lb-ft, Audi 406). Power is sent to the rear wheels by way of an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities.

That transmission isn’t just a normal slushbox. Programmed with three different modes -- Normal, Sport S and Sport S+ -- the transmission will either deliver you to your destination in style or across the finish line in a hurry. The latter mode is meant for racetrack use only.

But, it’s not just numbers – horsepower, torque and gear count -- that make a performance car, and the Lexus GS F will have a long list of go-fast gadgets. Features such as a Torque Vectoring Differential, cribbed directly from the RC F, will also have three operating modes meant for specific situations. Standard mode is for daily use while Slalom is meant for “nimble steering and agility” and “Track” is programmed to handle high-speed track driving with enhanced stability.

Lexus has not been shy about the styling new F and F Sport models and the GS F is no exception in that department. Starting with the headlights, the new sports sedan is given “L-shaped” daytime running lights to give the car a mean look. The overall stance of the performance model is lower and wider, giving it some dynamic athleticism even while sitting static. And, filling the wheel wells are 19-inch alloys with sticky 255 front, 275 rear staggered tires.

Bringing all that performance to a stop is an upgraded braking system with very loud orange-coloured calipers, showing style and function can go hand in hand.

Even with its track-oriented focus, customers need not worry about purchasing a roll cage as the Lexus GS will be equipped with a wide range of safety equipment, including Pre-Collision System that alerts the driver of an impending event, provides brake assistance and automatic braking for collision-avoidance support, and will hopefully reduce the amount of damage that occurs if the situation does end in an incident.

The Lexus GS F will be available later this year with an undisclosed price. Further details will be available closer to launch.