Lexus recently loaned us its GS-F 10th Anniversary Edition, a hyper-limited edition of the luxury brand’s big-bodied sedan. Only 100 were ever made; they were sold exclusively in the U.S. and sold out completely long before we took delivery of our loaner. But outside of its matte grey paint, polished 19-inch black BBS wheels, and blue-painted Brembo calipers, the GS-F 10th Anniversary Edition is identical to the standard GS-F you buy right now.
And what you’ll find on dealer lots is a car that embodies the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The GS-F is a luxury car, yes, but outside of the window sticker, there’s nothing about the car that screams “new.” For instance: it’s powered by the same Yamaha-built 5.0-litre V8 that first launched with the IS-F, which we first experienced all the way back in 2007 when we drove the very first IS-F prototypes. But rather than spend these past 12 years continuing to refine the engine, Lexus still makes the same — but healthy — 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque. This engine still comes attached to equally old close-ratio 8-speed transmission, and despite its unchanged 7,300 rpm redline, it’s a powertrain that’s a blast to ring out on a racetrack.
Problem is, we’re lucky to crack 45 mph in our day-to-day lives. And while that engine offers plenty of grunt down low, that multi-gear transmission likes to shift up early and often, making for a performance car that feels lazy on the street. So when driving like a responsible adult, the GS-F has just enough off-the-line swiftness to almost keep up with a teenager in a hand-me-down Kia.
Twist that drive mode-select knob a turn or two to activate the Sport or Sport+ modes, and things liven up considerably. Gears are held longer (a little too long in Sport+), throttle response feels sharper, and the exhaust opens up, unleashing that proper V8 roar. Still, even after jamming on the go pedal, the GS-F needs to pause a beat or two to think about what gear it wants to be in before it lets the fun happen. But when it does — watch out. There’s more than enough power to pin you to the back of your seat and turn that Kia into a small, insignificant speck of dust in your rearview mirror.
Just don’t bother with the flappy paddles… Even after playing with them for over a decade now, we still get lost trying to find the right gear on our own. It’s better to just plant your foot, let the car’s computer handle the shifting, and hope that there aren’t any cops nearby.
Despite its sedan platform, the GS-F is a solid performer in the corners, hunkering down and holding its line. But it still doesn’t offer that true sports car experience. The steering feels artificial, like it’s trying to be heavy, but in actuality just faintly suggests what the front tires are doing. The suspension itself is pretty stiff, too. We can’t help but think that the gentleman driver who shells out almost $90K USD for the thing may want a tad more comfort.
But this car is more about looking cool than providing comfort. The Lexus “Predator” face looks best on the proper F cars and is only enhanced with the GS-F’s genuine carbon fibre lower lip. The pumped front fenders add the right amount of menace and are filled nicely via the athletic stance and 19-inch wheels.
Things are sporty inside as well, but like the engine, feel a bit dated. That said, we appreciate that the GS-F still holds onto its analogue gauges and physical buttons. Styling-wise, there’s the requisite carbon fibre trim on the dash, with blue contrast stitching adding some flare. Seats are deeply bolstered, race-inspired units up front, offering heating and ventilation features, plus plenty of comfort.
The cabin of the GS-F does comfort right, even for those of us who like to sit close to the wheel and bolt upright. There’s a definite cockpit feel to things up front, but the dash and console are laid out in such a way that things don’t feel too claustrophobic.
There’s a lot to like about the GS-F, and it’s probably our favourite of the entire “F” lineup. But we’re still pragmatic at heart, and since we don’t live life at wide-open throttle, we’ve found that in day-to-day driving, the standard Lexus GS offers 80% of the fun at a fraction of the cost. Opting for the standard GS with the F-Sport package bumps that daily fun factor to about 90%.
So with that, if we had $90k to spend, we’d just buy the standard GS at approximately half the cost and use the leftover cash to buy a dedicated sports car instead.