REVIEW: 2015 Lexus GS 350 F SPORT – Edgy Luxury

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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.

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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.

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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…

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…and its 16-way power adjustable driver’s seat clamps you in.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Door panels are tightly curved and nicely padded.

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The drilled pedals are an obviously sporty touch.

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The Lexus center joystick controller has its usual ease of use.

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The center screen is big and clear, and it’s well-recessed from glare.

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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.

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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.

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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

Options:

F SPORT Package: $4,825
Rain-Sensing Wipers
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
Black Headliner
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

LIKES

Edgy performance

Delightful S+ mode

Grippy front seats

DISLIKES

Compact-sized rear seat and trunk

Lack of brake-pedal firmness

Less overall driving feel than German competitors

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1 comment

  1. Going by what you have posted, this car is more fun to drive than you care to admit, nobody buys a performance sedan with fuel economy in mind.Admit it pal, this car surprised you in many ways(all good)by the way.

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