The Straits Times Car of the Year 2016

Ludicrous Lexus

The Lexus GS F is a blend of sportscar performance and limousine comfort.
The Lexus GS F is a blend of sportscar performance and limousine comfort.PHOTO: ST FILE

One has to be hard and yet soft, aggressive and yet subdued, brutal and yet gentle.

Those may sound like instructions from a white- bearded Shaolin monk, but they are in fact the mantra of the new Lexus GS F.

The steroidal GS is powered by a naturally aspirated 5-litre V8 that makes 470bhp and 530Nm. A silky eight-speed autobox ensures the right amount of that goes to the rear wheels to suit the moment.

While most cars have gone turbo, the GS F proves there is life yet in a non-turbo engine, especially one as muscular and as refined as its V8. It allows the Lexus to dish out an extraordinary blend of sportscar performance and limousine comfort.

In terms of performance, it is just a shade off what the hardened Lexus RC F offers - 0.1 second slower to the century mark and with a ride- and-handling formula leaning towards effortless motoring rather than all-out tyre-burning.

So, while it may not match the turbo models from BMW's M or Mercedes-AMG, the GS F is at least half a notch above those in terms of comfort.

 
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  • SPECS / LEXUS GS F

  • Price: $469, 000 with COE

    Engine: 4,969cc 32-valve V8

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shift

    Power: 470bhp at 7,100rpm

    Torque: 530Nm at 4,800rpm

    0-100kmh: 4.6 seconds

    Top speed: 270kmh

    Fuel consumption: 11.3 litres/100km

    Agent: Borneo Motors

Its suspension is firm but never harsh. It offers excellent vehicle body control without being punishing to its occupants. At the wheel, it feels very Continental - solid, purposeful and unwaveringly precise.

You will notice a level of refinement Lexus is renowned for. Everything functions fluidly - as if the moving parts in its knobs, switches and hinges are never quite in direct contact, but operate magnetically.

And so it is with the way the car moves. You sense the brute force of its massive V8, but it simmers just below the surface, never flaring in an overt display.

Think of the grace of a wushu exponent, as opposed to the jerky forcefulness of a karateka.

The GS F is also a handsome sedan, with all the styling cues that suggest strength, speed and sportiness.

Sure, looks are often deceiving, but in this case, what you see is very close to what you get.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Ludicrous Lexus'. Print Edition | Subscribe