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Lexus GS F ducks the horsepower war. Image by Lexus.

Lexus GS F ducks the horsepower war
Japanese super-saloon gives away 90hp to the BMW M5.
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Newer articles featuring 2015 Lexus GS F

2015-10-14: First drive: Lexus GS F

Looks like someone's brought a knife to a gun-fight...

Have you been watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid again or something?

No, but have you seen the power output of Lexus' new sport saloon?

Ah yes, the GS F. I see what you mean. Yup, this is Lexus' answer to the BMW M5, Mercedes E 63 AMG and Audi RS 6 and like them it's a big, luxurious four-door saloon that's had a trip to the Jim Russell Racing School and a massive 5.0-litre V8 engine stuffed into the front.

The problem here is that while the Germans (and indeed Jaguar) are all packing north of 550hp, the GS F has 'just' 470hp. Now, that's more power than Jackie Stewart used to win three world titles, but up against the big-hitting Germans (and Brit) the GS F is looking a little bit short on firepower.

Still, it should have the handling and dynamic bit pretty well sorted out. That 5.0-litre engine drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, but the real trick bit is the torque-distributing differential, which can heave the engine's power from one wheel to the other, depending on where it can be best used. The diff has three modes - Standard (default), giving a balance of agility and firmness; Slalom, for nimble steering response and agility; and Track, enhancing stability for high-speed circuit driving.

The suspension is all new and the GS F sits lower and wider than do its more humble range sidekicks, It rides on special 19-inch alloys (255/35 R19 at the front, 275/35 R19 at the rear) and, rather brilliantly, while the engine might be short on puff, it can switch seamlessly from normal four-stroke Otto ignition cycle to the more efficient Atkinson cycle to save fuel when you're just pottering about. Clever.

Inside, there are of course big sports seats, while the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system now features an active engine note booster, that uses the front and rear speakers to make the exhaust growl and intake howl that bit more spine-tingling. Enough to overcome a 90hp deficit? Perhaps...

On the safety side it comes with Lexus' new pre-crash accident avoidance system, as well as lane departure warning and active high-beam assistance.

Yukihiko Yaguchi, chief engineer, explained: "Our cars with the F designation are meant to generate a very positive feeling when you're behind the steering wheel, and are designed to be fun to drive, no matter who's driving, or where."

"With the GS F we wanted to make a special car that would not only exceed the expectations of the most discerning enthusiast, but which could also be enjoyed by all drivers. In this spirit, it embraces the virtues of sound, response and power - the cornerstones of the Lexus F brand."

Yoshiharu Nakajima, project chief designer, said: "Fun to drive - it's what characterises all the cars wearing the F badge, and it was our intention that the GS F should be true to that quality."

"The style philosophy is 'form following function'. For example, the GS F's spindle grille was designed to further improve the car's aerodynamics and internal cooling, while the air outlets in the front wings, first seen on the IS F and more recently on the RC F, have been adopted because of their efficiency."

"The styling direction promotes Lexus's commitment to 'progressive luxury' and I feel this car conveys that brand message perfectly."

Neil Briscoe - 13 Jan 2015

Earlier articles featuring 2015 Lexus GS F

2015-01-06: High performance Lexus GS F breaks cover

2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.

2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.2015 Lexus GS F. Image by Sebastien Mauroy.    - Lexus road tests
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