IN the world of high-performance executive sedans, the Lexus GS F may be outclassed in the power stakes but this is only because it has something that only the purist would appreciate - a naturally aspirated V8. With practically all sports cars embracing forced induction, a big V8 without a turbocharger is a rarity. Lexus' choice of this dual-cycle 5.0-litre unit for the GS F means its flagship sports sedan enjoys seamless torque delivered in silkily linear and lag-free fashion.
Its output of 470 hp and 530 Nm is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission, which locks up the clutch in manual mode to prevent power loss from the torque converter for faster and more direct upshifts.
Artificial intelligence also monitors both the throttle angle and g-force to match upshift speed, and on downshifts, the throttle automatically blips.
All these allow the 1,865 kg GS F to race from zero to 100 kmh in 4.6 seconds.
But the big Lexus is also amply equipped for progress in anything other than a straight line. The steering is sharp, the driving position perfect, and the Torque Vectoring Differential or TVD has three modes to choose from - standard, slalom and track.
TVD is not your conventional rear differential which merely directs more torque to the outside wheel in a corner. It is also capable of dialling in negative torque to the inside rear wheel.
This means that in the most extreme mode, an able driver can make the GS F "rotate" into a fast corner.
Despite all the electronic gizmos that make it a very sporty car, the GS F also flatters the average driver by being, well, extremely driveable.
Tooling around town is a smooth experience. Of course, if your right foot is unusually heavy leaving the lights, the rear wheels may screech a little. But otherwise, it is as easy to handle as a normal GS saloon.
This is because its chief engineer designed it for drivers of all skill levels. Running on steel springs and 19-inch wheels, ride comfort at low speeds is very good too.
The sports-oriented cabin is suitably luxurious with plush front sport seats. In the instrument cluster is the familiar virtual tachometer within its aluminium ring. Unlike in the LFA supercar or F Sport variants, the eight-inch ring does not slide but the graphics do change depending on whether Eco, Normal, Sport S or Sport S+ mode is selected. Beside it, a multi-information display can project the g-force, torque distribution and a lap timer. Above, a colour head-up display complements driver infomation.
The special F treatment extends to the exterior. The GS F stands out for its more aggressive bodywork. Immediately obvious are the wider front fenders with big air outlets and the orange brake callipers. At the back, there is a carbon fibre rear lip spoiler and a deep diffuser with stacked quad pipes.
The terms "high-performance" and "practical" are often at odds with each other. But for this Lexus sedan with the big V8 and roomy interior, there is no contradiction.
Lexus GS F
Engine 4,969cc V8
Gearbox 8-speed automatic transmission
Max power 470 hp @ 7,100 rpm
Max torque 530 Nm @ 4,800-5,600 rpm
0-100 kmh 4.6 secs
Top speed 270 kmh
CO2 emissions 262 g/km
Average OMV S$95,000
Price S$456,000 (with COE)
Distributor Borneo Motors