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Lightning Lap 2016: Lexus GS F

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 9/13/2016 K.C. COLWELL, JOSH JACQUOT, TONY QUIROGA, AARON ROBINSON, ERIC TINGWALL
2016 Audi TTS and 2016 Lexus GS F

Class: LL3

Lap time: 3:05.9

Base price: $85,390

As-tested price: $86,770

467 hp • 4132 lb • 8.8 lb/hp

Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport

F: 255/35ZR-19 (92Y), R: 275/35ZR-19 (96Y)

At speed, the 4132-pound Lexus GS F is a bear riding a bicycle. How does something so large perform with such grace? It’s completely unnatural.

Of course, there’s nothing natural about a torque-vectoring differential, which is precisely how the GS F achieves its agility. By varying the torque between the left- and right-rear wheels, the GS F allows the driver to counter any front-end push with a squeeze of the throttle. The result is forward thrust and added rotation at the same time, meaning a carefully metered right foot can adjust the car’s trajectory through the corner without sacrificing speed. The GS F is a docile, approachable thing that only rebukes ugly driving with benign, controllable slides, and it makes for an entertaining ride around Grand West.

True to stereotype, this Lexus rides softer than the average sports sedan. It runs over VIR’s curbing with the indifference of an RX350 bumping into parking chocks at Costco, and it corners with considerable but controlled lean. The eight-speed automatic transmission refuses to break character, delivering paddle-shifted gearchanges fluidly albeit slowly, even with the mode selector dialed to sport-plus.

The GS F shares its powertrain and key structural components with the RC F coupe, shouldering a modest 63-pound penalty for its longer, taller body and two additional doors. The differences between the two cars are subtle enough that the GS F is a mere 0.1 second slower through the 4.1-mile lap than the two-door.

The 467-hp V-8 has a righteous, brassy intake honk at full throttle and pulls assertively, even if it is down more than 100 horsepower to several boosted competitors. Lexus has maintained that its F cars are about the experience rather than outright speed. The GS F validates that phi­loso­phy. Though it may seem unintuitive, ­hustling this two-ton sedan around the track feels entirely natural.

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