Lexus GS F

Lexus has come out huffing and puffing in its attempt to blow down the powerhouses of the ballsy sedan segment, namely, the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and Audi S6. It’s a big ask, but the Japanese company’s F division has applied its tools pretty viciously to the standard Lexus GS, imbuing it with some proper mongrel to match its high equipment levels and temptingly low price.

Driving – The slick eight-speed gearbox has a sharp first gear to hurl you off the line the way a big V8 should. It can shift quickly from there, too, changing up in three tenths of a second, and down a tenth faster again – at least when the computers let you. If you’re being a bit too radical, they’ll simply deny you the lower cog, which is a shame, and a reflection of Japan’s careful engineering approach. The steering is a little light for something so hefty, but the way it accelerates – and sounds – more than makes up for it. The ride and handling are also top shelf.

Engine – It simply has to be a V8 for an exec express such as this, and the Lexus 0.5 – litre produces 351kW at a piercing 7100rpm, as well as 530Nm of torque. The result is an exciting kind of power delivery, replete with rear-end wriggling. It can propel the 1825kg beast to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds, which is fast, but not quite German fast. The best thing about this V8, of course, is that it’s not turbocharged; it’s firmly of the old school, which makes it sound the way great cars used to.

Styling – It’s not for everyone, and there are those who would suggest the front of it looks like Robocop’s knee, yet there are just as many people who love its big, honeycomb grille and uniquely non-European lines, creases and stance. And the small, carbon-fibre rear wing is a nice touch.

Price / Delivery – Starting out at $148,800, the Lexus GS F undercuts its more fancied, and famous (this is their first real go at a car like this) rivals significantly. Speaking competitively, the cheapest BMW M5 you could get into would cost $36,200 more. And this isn’t a gadget-free entry model, either; that price gets you a 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system, heated steering wheel and seats and a whopping 12.3-inch screen, among other goodies. It even comes with a button that switches on a ‘Slalom’ setting, which is truly unique. And you can buy one now.

Interior – In theory, this is a family car for when you want to scare your partner and offspring half to death -or at least drown out their chatter. Yet the rear seat is not as capacious as you might expect; the giant, extravagant front bucket seats are so large that they cut into rear legroom noticeably, which is just another reason to make sure you’re always in the driver’s seat. General quality is good, with lots of nice soft touches, and it feels far, far removed from a Toyota. Our favourite feature? A wristwatch-sized speedo, which runs to an optimistic 340km/h.

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