A little while ago, I spent a week with the keys to a 2019 Lexus GS F. In a time when performance sedans from the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi have all moved to all-wheel drive and turbocharging, the GS F is the last of its kind, using a naturally aspirated V8 and rear-wheel drive. Personally, I haven’t had seat time in any of the GS’s competition, so I can’t speak to its performance relative to the segment — but you don’t need to be an expert to know that the GS F is a whole lot of fun, although given its age and lack of modern technology, its $87,000 sticker price is a bit of a stretch.
The GS first went on sale for the 1993 model year, and it was meant to be Lexus‘ answer to the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E Class. The design of the original was penned by storied Italian design house Italdesign Giugiaro, and it offered clean lines and a single-piece wraparound rear taillight panel — a trait shared with many other Japanese sedans of the era.
The GS on sale today is the fourth-generation model, which came out all the way back in 2012 — making it the oldest vehicle in its class. While the competitors have each been updated since 2012, the GS has soldiered on largely unchanged, leaving many to wonder if it will ever actually see a redesign, or become yet another victim to the ever-growing consumer shift toward SUVs.
Under the hood of the GS F is a 5.0-liter V8 putting out 467 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This is good for a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds, which is pretty quick, though it lags behind competitors like the Audi S6, which accomplishes the feat in 3.8 seconds– and it’s way behind higher-tier vehicles like the BMW M5, which gets there in a stupidly-fast 2.9 seconds.
As its engine is of the naturally-aspirated variety, power delivery is smooth, linear and immediate — and while the GS’s lack of an all-wheel-drive system means slower acceleration times than the competition, the knowledge that you could break the tires loose at any moment means that it’s still engaging to drive.
Additional performance components include upgraded Brembo brakes and a sport-tuned suspension, along with 19-in BBS wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, F Sport seats, and a healthy smattering of carbon fiber and Alcantara trim pieces.
In terms of configurability, the GS F has a few different driving modes. A dial on the center console allows you to select between Normal, Sport S, Sport S+, Custom and Eco modes (LoL). There are also three different modes to the torque-vectoring rear differential: Normal, Slalom, and Track, each of which adds to the tossability of the GS F’s rear end.
Push the start button and you’re greeted with a healthy roar from the stacked quad exhaust pipes (only two are functioning) — a staple of the F brand since the original IS F debuted back in 2007. Twist the drive mode dial to put the car into either of its two sport modes and the exhaust gets even louder, throttle response gets sharper, and gear shifts become more aggressive.
I haven’t driven many vehicles like the GS F, so I’m not the person to speak to its driving dynamics relative to the competition. That said, I can confirm three things. First, it’s fast. Seldom do you do a true 0-to-60 mph run in day-to-day driving. More often than not, you’re going from 25 to 45 mph, or 45 to 75, and 45 to 75 is a whole lot of fun in the GS F. Second, it’s comfortable, thanks to deeply bolstered sport seats and a generous use of Alcantara. Third, it’ll do burnouts. Never having really done one before and finding myself on an empty side street one night, I turned off all of the electronic nannies, mashed the brake with my left foot and gently added throttle with my right until I could feel the rear wheels break free. I slowly came off the brake and the car started to move forward, but without the gnarly squealing noise I was expecting. Thinking that nothing was happening, I looked back and, much to my delight, saw a massive plume of white smoke.
So while it’s far from the most competitive midsize performance sedan on the market, there’s a lot to love about the GS F, especially when you factor in what’s likely to be impeccable reliability and the excellent customer service offered by Lexus’ dealership network. That said, the GS F probably isn’t worth its close-to-$90,000 price tag, but when used examples are selling for close to half that in five years, it’ll make for a pretty great deal. Find a Lexus GS F for sale
Chris O’Neill grew up in the Rust Belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for awhile, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Follow him on Instagram: @MountainWestCarSpotter.
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