Lexus as a brand is one of those ones that generally get overlooked by many new car buyers who would favour the more common German steeds we see in abundance on Northern Ireland roads.
This oversight of the Japanese marque, i struggle to understand. Lexus provide owners with reliability, an option of high performance as well as superb interior quality. Most commonly known for four door saloon cars, some of which can only be described as VIP barges Lexus excels within this category.
Not only do they provide fantastic looking cars with great quality inside, they also bring an abundance of reliability as expected from a Japanese maker. On top of this and in the last decade, Lexus have been at the forefront of hybrid technology.
Hybrid technology is something that we are not even going to touch upon with this review however and indeed if there are any tree hugging, ozone loving readers, I would advise you to close your browser now. The reason for this warning is that in this review we bring you some race tuned luxury with the Lexus GS-F where F is for FAST and all of it is thanks to Lexus Belfast.
The GS range is Lexus’ largest saloon available and when the “–F” gets added to the name, it becomes insane.
At a glance outside, the biggest thing that catches the eye on the GS-F is the monstrous brake discs with anodised orange Brembo brake calipers which then draw the eye into the vented front wings while around the carbon spoiler clad front, the bumper offers very little in the way of paint as it is mostly a huge vent to keep the engine cool whilst the lower sides are huge air dams to keep the brakes at a sensible temperature.
LED lighting front and rear comes as standard with the front daytime running lamps creating a sharp swoosh into the bumper just below the LED headlamps. At the rear of the GS-F there is a dual exit quad exhaust in a stacked fashion which is a change from the norm.
On the boot-lid there is a carbon spoiler attached to the stock colour of this car which is a lovely metallic black, eight colours are available on the GS-F in total and this particular car has been changed to a matt silver and carbon effect combination of vinyl wrap, alongside the stock black.
A brave choice and one that certainly grabs attention however it is a little try hard in my view, cheapening the look of the car and a look created perhaps by a “dad that goes to Halfords” as it was described to me by one friend who saw the car during my weekend with it. Personally the only colour for the GS-F is factory Solar Flare Orange.
Opening the electric open/close boot-lid reveals a load space that is surprisingly superb for a saloon car and as the image shows, a microwave box fitted perfectly alongside my large camera bag with enough room left over for another few microwaves if required.
Not being a golfer it is hard to judge the scale of a set of clubs within a bag, however I would be pretty sure that at least one set will fit comfortably in the boot of the GS-F and there is most certainly enough room for a weeks luggage and a tent for an adventurous road trip for four.
The cabin of Lexus models usually offer aesthetics and ergonomics in abundance and the GS-F is no different, if anything, it goes that extra mile with a perfectly sumptuous blend of carbon, leather and alcantara throughout. This blend of materials gives the GS-F a much richer look and indeed somewhat of a racing edge inside with a lot of the fabrics being hand stitched in blue thread.
Alcantara and leather, clad most of the interior with carbon inlays on the doors, dash and centre console finishing off the looks. The heated, cooled and electric memory front seats on this model tested are in black leather whilst there is an option for red or grey leather when ordering new.
The seats are absolutely incredible, the feel and support of a proper sports bucket seat with the comfort expected from a Lexus, a combination that is rare with this type of seat. Such seats, combined with the centre console layout and positioning of the steering wheel and pedals gives a real sports feel of being in a cockpit rather than just a cabin and a colour head up display is visible on the windscreen just above the ‘wheel.
Comfort within the cabin is helped with dual climate control whilst the larger than life colour screen sunken into the upper dash is controllable via the remote touch interface control placed perfectly in reach just in front of the centre armrest.
Said colour screen is possibly a record breaker in regards to size, I thought the screen in recently review Volvo XC90 was a beast, however Lexus have taken technology to the next level and have installed a screen that would make many tablets on the market feel inadequate.
At 12. 3 inches and fitted in landscape orientation I must say it was an attention grabber for anyone who wanted to get a feel for the GS-F when I had it. It felt as if a lap top was built into the dash and to be honest it also felt like the infotainment system offered as many options.
Sat Nav, radio, DAB radio, Bluetooth, CD playback and USB connectivity are all part of the system with DVD playback available also. The screen has a split viewing option, offering a vast array of views to best suit owners needs and this model tested is equipped with a Mark Levinson premium surround audio system option at £1000 and the quality is fantastic.
I will confess now that I am rarely a fan of interiors and tech within Japanese cars as in general they are lacking in the quality that the European makers have consumers accustomed to, however this Lexus really is a turn up for the books with no cheap materials or tech anywhere within it.
Engine wise the GS-F is treated to a masterpiece in the form of a 5L V8 producing 470bhp with 390lb/ft of torque that will propel from 0-60mph in just 4.6 seconds. This engine is matted to an 8 speed auto gearbox with paddle shift.
Economy isn’t something you buy a GS-F for with a combined return of mid to late teens over a weekend with a drop to around 9 mpg on average with a spirited late night run whilst annual tax comes in at £515/annum.
The words I want to use to describe how this engine revs would see me in trouble and would fill the swear box very easily in the office, so I will try and put it politely. This V8 engine revs like WOW and goes like WOW with a huge amount of mid range get up and go!
Selectable driving modes include ECO, Normal, Sport S and Sport + with each mode allowing differing engine map settings and characteristics according to the way in which you wish to drive it. People always ask me questions when I have a car on test and my initial response is “ermmmm”.
This will last a minute before coming up with the answer to the question in hand however when asked about the drive of the GS-F the answer was EERM, sounding the same but meaning “Exciting, Exhilarating, Rewarding and Memorable”.
The driving experience is also race inspired with an adjustable torque vectoring differential, which allows changeable settings as follows; Standard, Slalom (more nimble steering response), and Track which offers the optimum and indeed with traction control fully deactivated offers “expert mode”.
The GS-F offers outstanding power and handling for being such a large car with a perfect balance. Safety on the move is aided with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, auto high beam, 10 airbags and blind spot monitor to list just a few.
Starting at just shy of £70,000 the GS-F is seriously good value for money and unlike many European challengers has very limited options available meaning you wont spend much more than another couple of grand on top of base price simply due to this Lexus having all the toys as stock rather than as options. Lexus we salute you and Lexus Belfast we thank you greatly!
Words & Photos: Graham Curry