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2018 Lexus GS F - Ten Years of Eff

 

The Lexus F badge turned ten years of age recently and so they decided to make a few special edition examples to celebrate.

Words: Peter Louisson   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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Based on the GS F and the RC F, the ten-year anniversary models are limited to 500 globally and there are five of the coupes and 10 of the sedans available in New Zealand, including this one, which is now thoroughly run in.

Lexus like to call these F 10 models ‘the purest expression of Lexus performance’ and are built for pure driving pleasure. So cue a power-up and hard core suspension tuning you’re thinking right? Er, not quite.

The anniversary models are covered in special matte grey paint with unique gloss black 19-inch alloys while the Brembo calipers are coloured blue. That blue hue, synonymous with the F badge, is carried over to the interior. The GS F’s front sport seats are clad in a mix of grey, white and blue semi-aniline leather.

Blue cow features on the back seat too, and on the shifter knob, steering wheel, and instrument binnacle. Even the seat belts are blue while a bluish carbon treatment adorns the centre console and dash. To top it off, there is a layer of blue Alcantara on the dash. Hope you like blue then.

this V8 has character, an engine the way they used to be.

As is the Lexus way, it’s all meticulously finished inside, the dash covering fixed with a pair of special hex bolts. The grey paint gives the big old GS some street cred, but it’ll be hard to keep looking fabulous all the time.

Even water spots stand out on the paint work after washing it. And those alloys are hard to polish clean, so too the shadow chrome finish of the grille surround. If you love detailing a car, this is for you. Why are they called F models? Well since you asked, it stands for Fuji, as in Fuji Speedway, apparently the home of Lexus performance development, while the badge is a stylised interpretation of the track’s first corner.

It’s where they honed the GS F’s torque vectoring diff. This contraption helps the big rear-driver lay its power down more effectively while keeping the front end on course too. Dialled up to its Track setting, you don’t have to wait until the corner exit proper to dial in the grunt as you can start feeding it in progressively and be at full throttle by the time the curve starts straightening.

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Helping in this regard is the linear power deliver of the silky, rev happy 5.0-litre V8. Its real thrust lives above 4000rpm, where the induction note takes on a harder edge as it sucks in the air, racing around to just past 7000rpm. It’s about then a shift beep informs you it’s time to flap the right paddle for the quick shifting eight-speed auto to pluck another gear.

While the auto is obliging, we ran it in manual mode as we felt it wasn’t quick enough with downshifts under braking. We hardly ever drive an atmo revver these days, and they certainly require more throttle finesse at higher engine speeds given their sharper response. A turbo engine allows for a more liberal stab at the gas pedal with the charger acting as a damper of sorts to smooth the power delivery.

While not nearly as powerful - actually make that torquey - as a turbo-fed unit, this V8 has character, an engine the way they used to be. It loves the whip, and as such we worked the average up to 23L/100km utilising that full rev range.

But then V8s are never polite with petrol, the average even when commuting is in the high teens.

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In terms of a sports sedan, the GS F is a gentleman. Dialled up to Sports plus, the adaptive suspenders keep things in control without having it wound down too tightly. The front end occasionally follows the contours of the road but the rear is given enough sponge to ride the worst of the bumps.

Despite it not being the newest four-door weapon, the GS F proved a satisfying drive around the reference loop of terror. And that’s despite the steering, which is accurate and well assisted but lacking that intimacy of a truly great set-up. So too the brakes which are effective but lack for that ultimate tactility under foot. It’s a refined racer when heading to the office with a plush ride, that creamy V8 and well oiled auto so slick.

Even the tricky diff remains clunk free. While this is not as ruthlessly rapid as the AWD, turbo-fed German bruisers, that’s not such a bad thing on road either. The engine needs to be worked, but it’s not hard with a flappy paddle auto and it sure sounds good doing it.

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While it’s nearing its end of days, and lacking for a few of the newer convenience features, the GS F’s price is still well south of $200k. At $178,400, it’s more in line with cars a size below.

And that total includes the big Lexus aftersales service care of four years/unlimited kay warranty and service.

There’s a roadside service too, but being a Lexus, you’ll probably never need it.

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