Is the 2016 Lexus GS200t F Sport a sheep in wolves clothing, or is it exactly what buyers want?
What is it?
The 2016 Lexus GS200t F Sport is a midsize, rear-drive sports sedan. What makes this Lexus a bit interesting is that it has the GS line’s lowest-power engine and also the company’s highly-styled F Sport appearance and trim package. Do these two options make any sense on the same car? We found out.
Pricing and trims
The GS line starts at about $47,000 with the base, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and rear-wheel drive that our test car had . Lexus has three other engines available. The well-known and respected 3.5-liter engine with about 310 hp, the mighty V8 with 467 horsepower, and the amazing 3.0-liter hybrid badged “450h” by Lexus.
All-wheel drive is optional on the GS 350, and the F Sport treatment can be applied to any GS, even the hybrid. Prices are a few grand more with the ‘350 engine, then jump to about $70K for the hybrid, and end up at about $90K for the GS F with the V8.
Our tester is one of the more popular combinations in terms of sales. Our GS 200t F Sport had an MSRP of $59,930, about $8K of which is the F Sport appearance package and adaptive steering and suspension. Our car also had the Mark Levinson Premium Audio and pretty much everything else Lexus can throw at this car.
Out tester was a 2016 model, but for 2017, every Lexus and Toyota model includes forward collision prevention with auto-braking. That makes it unusual. Most of the premium models we test don’t have this technology (yet), and if they do, they charge a steep package price for it.
The IIHS has not completely tested the GS, but it has scored Good on every test taken. Our test model had the Lexus active safety system, and it added $635 to our 2016 model’s sticker.
A few years back Lexus realized that despite the reputation BMW and other premium sports sedans had as road-carving rockets, most of what left dealer showrooms were small-engine, arguably under-powered versions of their cars.
Car magazines drool over the high horsepower test cars they request, and they praise those brands as if the rare sporty models they test represent the brand overall. However, buyers don’t usually opt for those 300- to 500-horsepower versions.
Lexus took an “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach and introduced a base 2.0-liter turbo engine that is pretty much exactly like BMW’s. The Lexus 2.0-liter turbo produces just 237 horsepower and has 258 lb-ft of torque from a low 1,650 RPM. In theory, and in practice, this engine is all anyone really needs to get around town. The low-RPM torque provides a feeling of thrust, and the lack of power isn’t noticed in normal driving.
In our testing, a lack of power was never a problem. However, this car didn’t inspire this driver to toe the power pedal for a burst of delicious power. Because it isn’t there. The 3.5-liter engine is more powerful, and in practice, it feels like it. The V6 does respond and does incite naughtiness. The V8 is a beast and your partner in crime. The hybrid, which we drove a couple years back and enjoyed very much, offers more thrust in every situation than the does the small turbo.
Our verdict is this engine should have been left in the smaller IS and RC cars. That said, most who test drive it will like it enough to buy it. Just like many who test drive a BMW 3 or 5 Series buy the BMW 2.0-liter turbo (and the same is true over at Mercedes, Cadillac, and so on). The Lexus engine is different from the BMW engine in that it is smoother and quieter. Otherwise, it is just like the BMW turbos we have drive over the past couple of years. That is to say, they behave much the same.
Lexus has been moving all of its rear-drive, non-hybrid cars to its eight-speed automatic. Here, the transmission has Eco and Sport modes, and also a Snow mode.
The test car’s transmission worked in combination with the turbo’s need to spool, seemed to delay delivering the RPMs needed for quick bursts of speed when merging. Yes, the car has paddle shifters, and one can lock out gears six, seven and eight to make it more driveable in sporty settings, but it feels like there are two more gears than needed.
During our week-long test, we felt a few abrupt downshifts while cruising and slowing that felt unlike a Lexus. Driving this car with eight speeds made us wonder why Lexus didn’t use a smooth CVT.
Ride and handling
The 2016 Lexus GS200t F Sport handles like a sports sedan should. The rear-drive design allows the steering to be free of any torque steer, and it is one of the main ways that cars like the GS line are somewhat better driver’s cars than great affordable cars like the front-drive V6-equipped Honda Accord or Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0.
The ride was also smooth over bumps, despite the extra-large diameter wheels with the low-profile summer tires our car had. The adaptive steering allows the driver to set the suspension to Sport or Normal. Back to that shopper we discussed earlier, he or she will love the way the car feels on a test drive, and the ride probably won’t disappoint over time.
The heated and ventilated seats, which are part of the F Sport package, are comfortable, supportive, and adjustable in just about all the ways you’d want.
The rear seats are large enough for two adults to ride in comfort. Leg room is generous, and front passengers won’t need to move up, even if all the passengers are over six feet tall.
The Lexus GS trunk is large, low and wide. The fob or internal open button work to raise the trunk lid up automatically as well, something we think all premium cars should do. Under the cargo floor is a spare tire.
Infotainment and controls
The Lexus 2016 Lexus GS 200t F Sport infotainment system has its merits and some issues. The large screen is clear. Lexus also does a good job of making the car’s systems, like the doors, seats, lights, and other components easily adjustable from the menus.
On the other hand, the remote touch interface (mouse) is not our favorite. It takes up the perfect spot for cupholders. Secondly, why do we need it at all? The touch-screen systems in Toyota products work equally well and free up all that valuable space.
The head-up display is a nice touch, and the sporty Lexus instrumentation shown in the image is part of the F Sport package. Our tester had the Mark Levinson premium audio. Although it sounds great, so too are the systems in most Lexus cars we test. We’d do a careful listen side by side at the dealership. If one is planning to listen to low-quality compressed MP3 audio (or satellite radio), it is hard to say if it is worth the added $1,380. However, if you are an audiophile who listens to CDs, the upgraded audio system is a slam dunk.
Lexus and BMW know a thing or two about what buyers say vs. what they buy. By combining the aggressive sports-car looks of the F Sport package with the lowest-cost, and most frugal engine, Lexus can give many buyers what they are looking for. Having tested other versions of the GS, we remain big fans of the line.
That said, the 2016 Lexus GS200t F Sport trim would not be our pick. The 2.0-liter turbo is only one mpg better in EPA testing than the much more powerful 3.5-liter engine. The EPA says that the smaller engine will save a driver just $50 per year in fuel costs. Living here in the snow belt, we would also opt for a GS package without summer-only rubber, and possibly with AWD.
The Lexus GS200t F SPORT counts among its many pluses a handsome look, a compliant ride and ample interior space. There’s also Lexus quality, durability, and reliability, along with a price that is attractive compared to its competitors. Drivers for whom engine power is not a priority will find it may be the perfect combination.
Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide.com’s local listings.
2016 Lexus GS200t F SPORT
Base price: $47,000
Price as tested, $ 59,930, including $950 destination charge
F SPORT Package: $7,670
- F SPORT Styling
- F SPORT Seating
- Naguri Aluminum Interior Trim
- F SPORT 19-Inch Wheels
- F SPORT Brakes
- F SPORT Suspension Tuning
- Aluminum Pedals
- Lexus Dynamic Handling System Including Rear Steering
- LFA-Inspired guages
- SPORT S+ Driving Mode
- Powere Rear Sunshade
- Rain-sensing Wipers
Head Up Display: $900
Lexus Safety PCS System.: $635
Mark Levinson Audio: $1,380
One-Touch Power Trunk: $400
Park Assist: $500
Heated Steering Wheel: $150
- Comfortable Ride
- Precise Handling
- Handsome Styling
- Front Seats Force Driver’s Head Forward
- Premium Fuel Recommended
- Remote Touch Interface