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It has a naturally aspirated V8, it has stacked quad exhausts, it has a grille from a sci-fi movie, side vents, and is lighter than its key rivals. Lexus’ first attempt at taking on the BMW M5 has all the markings of a worthy contender to take on the best of the best so why then is it like Lexus has taken a water pistol to a gun fight?

Let’s take a moment to look at what it’s up against. The BMW M5 has more or less 600bhp, the Audi RS7 has 572bhp, the Mercedes E63 AMG has 585bhp, and the Jaguar XFR-S has 542bhp. Then there’s the Cadillac CTS-V which has a frankly ridiculous 640bhp. So you’d expect the GS F to come packing with around 550bhp to be competitive? Erm, no. Okay maybe 500bhp? Nope, not even close.

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The Lexus GS F has 467bhp and 530NM of torque. 0-100 km/h is expected to be around 4.5 seconds with top speed to be somewhere in the 280 km/h range. While all this would’ve been impressive in 2005, the super sedans these days have upped the game. Sure these are specs for the US market GS F, they may or may not increase for other markets. Regardless it’s still around 100bhp below where it needs to be. Forget taking on the BMW M5, this is more a BMW 550i or Maserati Ghibli S rival.

That said, the GS F does come packed with a few clever bits and pieces to help give it a fighting chance. There’s a multi and strut suspension set up for the front and rear, an 8-speed automatic with paddles, the same torque vectoring diff found in the RC F, and thicker rubber. Let’s not forget the lighter weight, the GS F is only 1830kg. That’s some 110kg less than the BMW M5 and 40kg less than the E63. Numbers are one thing but the GS F could be a proper hoot to drive. Who knows, it could suprise us.

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It’s also now the only car in its class to be naturally aspirated; the three Germans are turbocharged while the Brit and the American contenders are supercharged. So for those who prefer their super sedans as natural as their women, the GS F is in a niche of its own. Which is good because in the company it’s in, it needs to stand out.

Lexus’ designers have certainly done a good job with the exterior. The GS F carries on Lexus’ current design theme, which I rather like. It might be polarising for some but compared to the sombre Germans the “out there” approach from Lexus is a welcome change. Much of the styling is influenced from the two other F Sport models; the IS F and RC F. It has the same side vent behind the front wheels, the same stacked exhausts, and the same exaggerated grille. The GS F also dons redesigned headlights that could be carried over on the facelift GS. Then there’s the interior, which looks great. Just look at those seats!

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It’s bhp and torque are still a tad disappointing. The GS F could’ve, should’ve been so much more. All the right ingredients where; the looks, the interior, and the tech. Lexus only needed to squeeze an extra 100bhp from the engine. Okay, that’s easier said than done. Maybe a different engine then, how about the V10 from the LFA. That developed 550bhp and a noise better than anything else on Earth, except maybe for the noise Scarlett Johansson makes when she’s, erm, very excited. Anyway… perhaps even chucking a couple of electric motors in would’ve done the trick, a sort of GS Fh? On the on the other hand it’s good to see someone still sees merit in a naturally aspirated V8, so it’s got that going for it.

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