The GS is the sporty larger sedan in the Lexus lineup. The F Sport option aims to make it bolder and more fun to drive – and it succeeds.
The F Sport option takes what can sometimes feel like a middle-of-the-road luxury car and adds an edgy sportiness that could satisfy many an enthusiast.
To be clear, there’s still the Lexus layer of isolation that stands between the non-F Sport from unequivocally being called fun to drive. The compensation is a giddy sharpness in F Sport’s most extreme drive mode that easily gets your adrenaline up.
You might think of the BMW 5-series first when the GS’s competitors come to mind. At $49,525, the Lexus starts $1,375 less than the BMW 525i, and its V6 pumps out 66 more horses than the BMW’s turbo four.
BMW of course has the advantage in fuel economy, with its EPA overall rating of 27 besting the Lexus’s 23.
Add the test car’s $4,825 F Sport package, and the GS hits $54,350. That’s $5,350 below the comparable BMW, the 535i with the M Sport package. They have about the same horsepower ratings; the Lexus has six hp more. And the BMW gets one mpg more overall. Very similar indeed.
As with BMW’s M Sport, the Lexus F Sport package deals in sportier trim and 19-inch wheels and a beefier suspension. Both cars have the same horsepower ratings as their non-Sport brethren.
Those F Sport wheels are snazzy…
…and its 16-way power adjustable driver’s seat clamps you in.
The F Sport’s aggressive front-end treatment is ironically as amicable a treatment that exists of the severe Lexus grille. The flares and curves are strong, but they don’t attack your eyes.
Under the hood is a sweetie of a V6, with an authoritative snap off the line and a hearty growl that accompanies a run up to its 6,400-rpm power peak.
The F Sport’s handling aids are the package’s real highlight. In addition to the wider wheels and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), the F Sport includes the aforementioned extreme drive mode: S+.
That extra plus after the S adds the magic an enthusiast would want from a luxury sport sedan. It draws in the F Sport’s variable gear ratio steering with terrific firmness, and body roll is clipped down to small increments. Driving on curved roads with S+ was both exciting and reassuring, and it was easy to find yourself going really very fast.
The only component that didn’t fall in line with the otherwise uniformly edgy S+ experience was the brakes. F Sports are upgraded with 14-inch, two-piece-rotor, four-piston caliper doozies, and they stopped well, but the brake pedal had a notably softer response than the steering and suspension. That discordant softness nipped a bit at the confidence the rest of the F Sport inspired.
You can have all-wheel drive in the F Sport: it’s a $2,065 option. Lexus says it adds 165 pounds, and the transmission goes from eight to six speeds. Overall EPA mileage drops from 23 to 21.
Inside, the F Sport’s 16-way seats have power bolsters that clamp you in, so you can milk the S+ mode for all its G-force worth.
Door panels are tightly curved and nicely padded.
The drilled pedals are an obviously sporty touch.
The Lexus center joystick controller has its usual ease of use.
The center screen is big and clear, and it’s well-recessed from glare.
The rear seat is compact-car sized, with its 36.3-inch legroom measurement. Still, if those in front cooperate, it can be comfy back there.
Trunk room is a similarly compact-sized 14.1 cubic feet. That’s how it is when a car is designed on a rear-wheel drive platform – the rear seat and trunk have to make space for the differential between the rear axles.
The one-touch power trunk is a $400 option.
Of the GS’s flavors – base and hybrid and F Sport – the F Sport is the enthusiast’s hot ticket. The Lexus offers more features than the comparable BMW, but the GS is short of the engagement a BMW can bring.
The GS F Sport goes furthest to close that gap. There’s still the gap in feel, but the reactions are racy enough that it’s hard not to smile after a heated run. If you’re an enthusiast in the executive-sedan market and don’t want a German car, the F Sport just might satisfy.
2015 Lexus GS350 F SPORT
Base Price: $48,600
Price As Tested: $57,330
F SPORT Package: $4,825
Heated And Ventilated Front Seats
Power Rear Sunshade
19″ Split Five Spoke Alloy Wheels With Dark Graphite Finish,
Staggered Fitment With Summer Tires
F SPORT-tuned Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS)
Sport S+ Drive Mode
14.0-Inch, Two Piece Front Brake Rotors With Four-Piston Calipers
16-Way F SPORT Driver’s Seat With Power Side Bolsters
Striated Aluminum Interior Trim
F SPORT Front Bumper
Upper And Lower Grille Inserts
Rear Valance and Rear Lip Spoiler
Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System: $1,380
Navigation Package: N/C
Blind Spot Monitor With Power Folding Exterior Mirrors: $700
Intuitive Parking Assist: $500
One-Touch Power Trunk: $400
Delightful S+ mode
Grippy front seats
Compact-sized rear seat and trunk
Lack of brake-pedal firmness
Less overall driving feel than German competitors