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2018 Lexus GS F Review

2018 Lexus GS F Review
Add more power and the 2018 Lexus GS F could stare down any high-performance sport sedan from Germany.

The 2018 Lexus GS F sport sedan is a challenger among automotive heavyweights. It takes on rivals such as the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, Cadillac CTS-V, and Audi RS 7. The Lexus skips the pedigree, but still offers superlative performance. It's composed on the road, with a meaty V-8 and good track skills.

Based on those strengths, we give the GS F a 7.0 rating.

Changes for 2018 are minimal. The lane departure warning system becomes active lane control, and the Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect services are now complimentary for 10 years.

The GS F is based on some pretty good bones. We like the handling of the base GS, but Lexus has put some work into the GS F to make it capable on a racetrack. Lexus engineers have strengthened the structure, added a torque-vectoring differential, swapped in bigger brakes, installed larger 19-inch wheels on sticky summer tires, and upgraded the body to cut through the air better and provide better cooling.

Under the hood, they installed a 5.0-liter V-8 that makes the aforementioned 467 hp and can launch the car from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of a 168 mph. Those are impressive numbers, but they pale in comparison to the supercar-type numbers put up by the competition. Fuel economy isn’t too bad, at 19 mpg combined.

While the ride is a bit firm, the GS F works as an everyday driver. It has adjustable shocks that can be set to a comfort mode for the street, and the interior has the same space for five as the base sedan. It has great room up front, but legroom is tight for a mid-size sedan, though that will only affect taller adults.

The high quality of the interior materials is another reason to like this car, and the sporty elements added to the cockpit only make it more appealing. Like the standard GS, however, we find the Lexus Remote Touch control interface frustrating to use.

Families will also like the safety story, at least from an equipment standpoint. The GS F comes with 10 airbags, as well as such features as forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and active lane control. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been subjected to enough crash tests to prove that it is safe on paper.

The 2018 Lexus GS F builds on the base sedan’s elegant looks with thoughtful but aggressive aerodynamic features and sporty interior cues.

The 2018 Lexus GS F is bolder take on the GS sedan, but it’s not so aggressive that it loses the GS’s basic elegance. We rate the GS F an 8 out of 10 for styling for its exceptional exterior and attractive interior.

The changes from the base car are in the name of cooling and aerodynamics. A bold take on Lexus' spindle grille dominates the front end. It is flanked by a pair of air intakes, one for an oil cooler and the other for the transmission cooler. The lighting is is all LED, including the L-pattern headlights, turn signals, daytime running lights, and taillights.

The front fenders are wider than those of the GS and they have integrated air vents to let the engine compartment breathe. Prominent rocker panels give the car a lower look in profile, while the rear end is highlighted by a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic lip spoiler and quad exhaust outlets that poke through a lower diffuser.

Under-body covers smooth out the airflow underneath the car to improve overall stability.

Hop inside, and you will see a cockpit-style cabin with a horizontally themed dash, LED ambient lighting, and sporty touches that include aluminum pedals, high-back sport seats, perforated leather on the seats and steering wheel, carbon fiber trim, and Alcantara on various surfaces.

The Lexus GS F balances track-ready handling with ready power and composed road manners, but the V-8 engine can’t match the output of several rivals.

The Lexus GS is an accomplished sport sedan in its own right, but the GS F turns up the wick considerably, making it a real track car that still offers composed road manners. We rate the GS F an 8 for performance, giving it points for power, handling, and steering response.

To the GS’s structure, the GS F adds four extra underbody braces to stiffen the structure, and it gets better suspension and chassis hardware. The double-wishbone front and rear suspensions are common to both cars, but the GS F has its own geometry and it uses aluminum for some of the components to reduce unsprung weight. Adaptive shocks are standard, and so are larger brakes, forged 19-inch wheels, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and an electrically controlled, clutch-actuated torque-vectoring differential.

The GS F has a Drive Mode Selector with Eco, Normal, Sport S, and Sport S+ modes, and the torque-vectoring differential has Normal, Slalom, and Track modes. The various modes really change the car’s dynamic personality.
Left in the two Normal modes, the GS F has light, quick steering with crisp turn-in. However, when pushed hard, the traction control kicks in too willingly and the tires give up grip in corners, allowing the car to push forward rather than rotate in tight quarters, a condition known as understeer.

Opt for the Sport S or Sport S+ modes and put the differential in Slalom or Track and the GS F suddenly drives smaller than its size. It rotates willingly, becoming more agile on a track or through tight corners. In any mode, the Brembo brakes provide strong stopping power.

The GS F’s long wheelbase helps iron out some ride harshness, making it a fairly comfortable cruiser.

The biggest difference between the GS and GS F is the 5.0-liter V-8 under the sculpted hood. It spins out 467-horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque.

This throaty V-8 revs easily to 7,300 rpm, shifts quickly through its 8-speed automatic, and Lexus even pipes in some of its V-8 howl through the speakers into the cabin. Throttle response is immediate, and the 0-60 mph sprint takes just 4.5 seconds. While the power is plentiful, the GS F’s thrust isn’t as otherworldly as its German and American rivals.

Comfort & Quality
Sporty touches, rich materials, and room for five make the GS F an appealing performance car that can accommodate the family.

The 2018 Lexus GS F has the same strengths and weaknesses as the GS sedan upon which it is based, but it builds on those pluses with comfortable and supportive high-back sport seats, and some sporty trim and features.

We rate it a 7 for comfort and quality, mainly on the strength of its front seat comfort and the quality of its materials.

The GS F has room for five, but the rear seat is a bit tight for a mid-size sedan and so is the trunk. Sporty touches like aluminum pedals, Alcantara surfaces, and carbon fiber trim add to the already appealing look of the standard GS sedan. The GS F also has a multi-information display in the instrument cluster that shows the usual trip computer and fuel consumption information, but also includes a lap timer and displays for g forces, rear wing position, and torque distribution.

Like the GS sedan, the Lexus Remote Touch system is standard. It employs a center console-mounted joystick to input commands on the massive 12.3-inch dashboard screen. While haptic feedback makes “buttons” on the screen provide resistance through the joystick, we don’t like the fact that this system requires that users must develop manual dexterity to master the controls and even then bumps in the road can disrupt inputs. We find this to be one of the most frustrating control interfaces on the market.

Though well equipped with safety features, the 2018 Lexus GS F does not have full crash-test scores to prove its crashworthiness.

The 2018 Lexus GS F comes with a plentiful roster of standard safety features. It has 10 airbags, including driver and front-passenger knee airbags and rear-side airbags, plus the Lexus Safety+ system, which consists of adaptive cruise control, forward collision warnings with emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Don’t expect the high-performance, low-volume GS F to be crash-tested any time soon. However, it is structurally similar to the standard GS, which has some safety ratings. The 2017 GS received top ratings of "Good" in the moderate front overlap, side, and roof strength tests from the IIHS. However, without complete testing, it could not receive Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ honors. The NHTSA has not crash-tested the GS or the GS F.

We base our ratings on safety equipment and complete crash-test results, and therefore can’t give the GS F a score for safety. 

The 2018 Lexus GS F comes loaded with go-fast goodies and comfort and convenience features, though the price of entry is rather high.

The 2018 Lexus GS F is equipped like a loaded GS in terms of comfort and convenience features and it adds a host of performance goodies on top of that. Options are minimal. We rate it a 7 for features based on its generous feature set.

On the comfort and convenience front, the 2018 Lexus GS F comes standard with 10-way power sport seats, leather upholstery, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a 12-speaker audio system, HD radio, satellite radio, the Lexus Remote Touch infotainment system with a 12.3-inch center screen and navigation, a rearview mirror, Lexus Enform Remote, Lexus Safety Connect, and Lexus Service Connect.

For 2018, Lexus Safety Connect and Service Connect become complimentary for 10 years. Safety Connect is a telematics service with roadside assistance, an SOS button, automatic collision notification in case of an airbag deployment, and a stolen vehicle locator. Service Connect allows owners to connect with their computers or smartphones for vehicle health reports and maintenance alerts.

The interior also features aluminum pedals, perforated leather on the seats and steering wheel, Alcantara on other surfaces, and carbon fiber trim.

The go-fast goodies include 19-inch forged alloy wheels with 235/35 front and 275/35 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, 15-inch front Brembo brakes with 13.6-inch rear Brembos, and an electrically controlled and clutch-actuated torque-vectoring rear differential.

Options are limited to a head-up display, a 17-speaker, 835-watt Mark Levinson sound system, hand polished forged wheels, and orange brake calipers.

Fuel Economy
With a V-8 under the hood, fuel economy isn’t a priority, though the GS F won’t break the bank at the pump.

When the spigot flows to the tune of 467 horsepower, fuel economy isn’t your No. 1 priority.

Predictably, the 2018 Lexus GS F is fairly hard on gas, but it will deliver fuel economy no worse than the average SUV. That’s because the 5.0-liter V-8 is a fairly advanced engine. It uses both port and direct injection and can run on the Otto and the more efficient Atkinson cycles.

The 2018 Lexus GS F carries EPA fuel economy ratings of 16 mpg city, 24 highway, 19 combined, earning it a 5 on our scale.

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