Real-World Review

2016 Lexus GS F: Real World Review

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author photo by Autotrader March 2016

The 2016 Lexus GS F represents new territory for the brand. While Lexus entered the entry-level performance sedan market a few years ago with the smaller IS F, the GS F is larger and more powerful, squaring up against serious European competitors like the Mercedes E63 AMG and BMW M5. So how does it do? We recently spent a week driving the GS F in order to find out, and here's what we think.

Inside and Out

Although a lot has been said and written -- both positive and negative -- about Lexus's transition to the new spindle grille, most of our editors agreed the GS F looks handsome with its latest front end. The sedan offers a far more assertive look than the regular GS, touting a lowered body, larger wheels, a new front bumper and rear quad exhausts -- and the grille seems to fit in with its bolder design. Our editors described the GS F's look with positive terms like "aggressive" and "intimidating."

The GS F also scored points for its interior design. While our editors complained about the mish-mash of performance and luxury styling in the IS and RC, the complaint is gone for the GS, which combines the two well. Several editors complimented the grippy seats, the large infotainment screen and the excellent use of carbon fiber and matte finish that distinguish the GS F from a standard model. One complaint related to the steering wheel, as our editors remarked that they wished for a flat bottom or a grippier material like most rivals.

Also impressive is the GS's level of equipment. The excellent Mark Levinson sound system in our test car offered amazing sound, while we appreciated the great ride quality provided by the adjustable suspension. Of course, the GS F is also loaded with many of the latest high-tech features and equipment, as you'd expect from a vehicle of this caliber.

Fun to Drive, but No German

On the road, the GS F is fun to drive, but it's not quite a competitor for German rivals like the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG. That's clear from the moment you look at the spec sheets and discover that the GS F has merely 467 horsepower, compared to 560 to 580 horses in the M5 and E63 AMG.

With that said, the GS F holds its own if you don't drive it with the expectation that it will be just like an M5 or an E63. It's softer and slower, yes, but it still offers excellent cornering capabilities, along with tremendous grip and aggressive acceleration when necessary. One of our editors described it as a "luxury muscle car" -- an apt description when you're at full throttle or pushing it through a corner. It also feels smoother than German rivals, which have become so pricey and ultra-sporty that Mercedes is debuting an entry-level E-Class AMG model for shoppers who don't want the rough ride and raucous engine of the all-out E63.

Not Exactly Cheap, but Still a Bargain

The 2016 Lexus GS F starts at an eye-popping $85,400 with shipping. That's an enormous amount of money for a Lexus, especially when you consider you're not getting the same level of performance as the M5 or the E63 AMG. Shouldn't you just buy one of those models instead?

Sure -- if you can afford it. With recent improvements and subsequent price hikes, the M5 now starts above $95,000 with shipping, while the E63 AMG starts at $102,600 including destination. And given the similar levels of equipment between the GS F and its German rivals, you'll pretty much be paying all that extra money just for hp. Which begs the question: When the GS F does 0-to-60 in the low 4-second range, do you really need 100 more hp? For some drivers, the answer will be unequivocally yes. For others, the GS F stands out as a bargain -- even at $85,000.

Our Take

We really liked the Lexus GS F and yet, we don't expect to see too many on the roads. We suspect most drivers will indeed choose the BMW or the Mercedes, if only for their name recognition, leaving behind the Lexus despite its bargain price. We think that's a shame, as the 2016 GS F is a handsome, bold luxury sport sedan with impressive equipment and surprisingly good driving characteristics and we'd love to have one in our own personal garage.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Lexus GS F: Real World Review - Autotrader