Seven years. That’s the time between rumors of Lexus’ GS F coming to market and the car actually coming to market. Lexus had never really appeared to take its F brand seriously. And its first attempt at going after cars like the BMW M5 and Audi S6 ended up being kind of a dud.
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Lexus started toying with the idea of a GS F way back in 2011, right before the introduction of the fourth-generation Lexus GS. Production of the LFA supercar was winding down, and Lexus had nothing left to do with that screaming 4.8-liter 552 horsepower V10. That’s when things got interesting for the luxury automaker.
Speaking to Motor Trend, the chief engineer for the GS, Yoshihiko Kanamori, hinted that Lexus had been toying with the idea of putting the LFA’s V10 into the GS because it would actually fit.
Mr. Kanamori said Lexus never planned to carry on with the V-10 project, but that it was “technically feasible to fit the engine into the new GS.” Futher proving the idea has been seriously pondered, he said the engine would have to be detuned to deliver more torque instead of power.
“But I am not sure,” he said. “We have some plan for the next F model.
Auto publications went wild with the rumor. This Lexus could be a Japanese BMW E60 M5! But then silence. For the next seven years, things went quiet about the GS F. Lexus soldiered on, content with a slew of all show, no go F-Sport models on everything from the CT hybrid hatch to the RX crossover. This entire time the RC F was carrying the torch for the brand’s performance, which isn’t saying much.
Then in 2016, Lexus finally released the GS F — and it’s lukewarm. Instead of that wonderful V10, Lexus stuffed the same 5.0-liter V8 under the hood of the GS that’s found in the LC and RC F (and the recently introduced IS 500 F-Sport Performance).
There were no turbo or superchargers — just naturally aspirated power. It made 467 HP and 389 lb-ft of torque. If you think those numbers are impressive, they really are not. I mean they’re not bad, but the competition outgunned it. It was down 100 HP on everything from the BMW M5 to the Cadillac CTS-V, and it was slower too. All of its competitors hit 60 mph in the mid to high three-second range. The GS F took nearly four and a half seconds to make the same run.
The GS F did handle well though and was able to nearly pull a full G on the skidpad. The car also got the Lexus reliability, along with quality of fit and finish. But the little bit of performance and quality wasn’t worth it, especially when you saw the price tag. It did make for a performance bargain at $60,000 - $70,000, but Lexus wanted $85,390 for the GS F with prices reaching nearly $88,000 loaded.
Good luck finding a used one. The GS F was made from 2016 until the GS’s discontinuation in 2020. Someone on the Lexus forums contacted Corporate for hard production numbers: Just 2,484 were made over those four years, with the most cars produced in 2016 at 1,418. From 2017 until 2020, production numbers never touched 500. So again, if you can find them used, they’re rare finds and appear to have held their value.
Given the company’s demonstration of performance know-how, it sucks that it in retrospect, it doesn’t seem like Lexus actually tried to make the GS F competitive. Here’s to hoping the IS 500 lives up to the F moniker better than the GS F did.