If a car has sporting pretentions, it ought to have a good engine. Thankfully, the GS offers the choice of two. The engine in the new GS 200t is a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, with an estimated 33 mpg return on the highway. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The GS 350, meanwhile, carries a 3.5L V6 unit that produces a very healthy 311 horsepower and 280-pound feet of torque. The GS 350 manages to hit 60 miles per hour in under 5.7 seconds while still averaging 23 mpg in combined highway/city driving. It, too, is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, incorporating several nifty features taken from the IS-F high-performance sports sedan. Downshifts are automatically rev-matched and upshifts come with little hesitation. The transmission also features an "Eco" mode that revises the throttle mapping and climate control systems for a more fuel-efficient journey.
If power is one side of the sports sedan coin, handling is the other. Front upper and lower aluminum control arms reduce unsprung weight in the GS, improving agility, ride comfort and body control; while the rear subframe accommodates a multilink setup in the back. Combined with a stiff body shell, this allows the GS to handle corners with aplomb. However, should drivers want even better handling; the F Sport package is available with goodies such as Lexus' Dynamic Rear Steering system. This allows the rear wheels to automatically turn up to two degrees while cornering, aiding turn-in and stability.
Although the GS is sportier and more extroverted than ever, it hasn't lost any of its trademark luxury. Standard interior gadgets include Bluetooth compatibility, SMS text-to-speech, HD Radio, satellite radio and of course a high-resolution 8-inch screen. This is complemented by a 12-speaker surround sound stereo, though audiophiles can instead go for the optional 17-speaker Mark Levinson unit boasting 835 watts.
The Premium package includes rain-sensing wipers, a power rear sunshade and heated and ventilated front seats. The Luxury Package builds on this, with nicer seats in the front, rear HVAC and audio controls, rear manual side sunshades, an Adaptive Front Lighting System, Adaptive Variable Suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the navigation system and Lexus will upgrade the center screen to a 12.3-inch high-resolution version. This screen is big enough to accommodate split screen or full screen viewing of things like maps, audio, climate and vehicle information.
The GS F is a different beast entirely, with a 5.0L V8 producing 467 horsepower, enough to make it a serious contender in the ultra-high performance sedan class. The GS F mates this engine with a standard eight-speed automatic, ensuring not just rapid acceleration, but a degree of refinement that is unmatched by its competitors. The suspension of the GS F has also been worked over ensuring that the car is able to corner as well as it accelerates and brakes.
Finally, the GS is also available as a hybrid in the GS 450h. It adds an electric motor to the standard 3.5l V6. The addition of this motor boosts total horsepower to 338, while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption by about 30 percent, making the GS 450h the fastest and most fuel efficient GS available, with a combined EPA rating of 31 mpg.
The 2020 Lexus GS F isn't the best sport sedan, but I kind of love it. Even with awkward cabin tech making it frustrating to live with and the nagging feeling that there are better cars in this class for similar money, I'm always happy to settle into the bright yellow GS F, fire up the V8 and punch it. .
Despite its flaws, I think the GS F has still got it where it counts. It's certainly done its part to fight Lexus' reputation for boring luxury cars. This particular example's 193.5-inch length has been coated in eye-catching Flare Yellow paint (a $595 option) that turns heads everywhere I go. The exterior design is more aggressive than the standard GS, with sharpened front and rear aerodynamics, glossy black trim for the wing mirrors and rear diffuser and a carbon fiber lip spoiler on the trunk. Blistered fenders terminate in Lexus F's trademark fender vents and you'll spot blue, stylized "F" badges from every angle.
And yet, the GS F is still about as comfortable as the standard GS. Its 112.2-inch wheelbase leaves plenty of space in the cabin for passengers (91 cubic feet) and in the trunk for cargo (14 cubic feet). Aside from a slightly stiffer ride, the only real compromise the GS F makes is the loss of its fold-down rear seats and trunk pass-through for hauling long items.
The Good ~ Beefy V8 engine feels and sounds fantastic ~ F Sport seat are comfortable and supportive ~ Even though it's dated, the GS F still looks great
The Bad ~ Enform cabin tech lacks modern features ~ Remote Touch controller is frustrating to use ~ Expensive relative to comparable German performers
The Bottom Line I'm glad the Lexus GS F exists. It's an imperfect, but thoroughly enjoyable premium sport sedan. However, you could do much better for the money.
When heading south to the Long Beach Grand Prix, I take the scenic route in a Lexus IS 500 F Sport.
It's super exclusive and covered in high-zoot performance parts, but the driving experience is less than their sum.
This limited-edition RC F looks and sounds ferocious, but there isn't much bite to back up that bark.
You'd never know there's a 5.0-liter V8 lurking under this sedan's hood.
The IS 500 is less expensive than its German performance rivals.
The Lexus IS 500 is a competent performance car, but don't expect an IS F revival.
This is the first time Stellantis' truck brand has ever topped the list.
Lexus' F Sport trim is now available on the ES hybrid, but don't expect this sedan to drive the way it looks; this is still a smooth, quiet and comfortable car.