2016 Lexus GS F: Welcome Back, ‘O, Holy V8’

Lexus makes a surprising return to power with a proper V8 engine in the all new 2016 GS F.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

There’s not a lot in common with the models of Lexus and the insane, apocalyptic vehicles of Mad Max. But, they stepped a little closer to each other with the arrival of the 2016 Lexus GS F.

In Max’s dark world, where “guzzline” is precious and heavy metal horsepower rules the wastelands, the V8 engine is worshipped as a god. Now, in the sophisticated, luxury-soaked realm of Lexus, the V8 returned to equally celebrated status with the new GS F. 

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The GS F is an official return to the V8 sports sedan class. We’re not talking about a sport-tuned, F Sport version of a V6 Lexus luxury sedan. Now, there’s nothing with an F Sport edition of the IS, GS, NX, etc. Those editions do squeeze more speed, better handling and (by default) more fun out of the standard Lexus power train from crossover to sedan.

Also: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: 2016 Lexus GS

Still, a sport-tuned V6 isn’t a V8. It can’t be. It doesn’t sound like a V8. It doesn’t surge like a V8. Those facts only make it sadder that the V8 is slowly fading from use in a world obsessed with fuel economy, ecology and smug self-congratulatory rhetoric. As the bloodless and cowardly worry about responsible usage and deny the value of the sensual, the visceral and the passionate, the V8 engine is buried beneath a mix of self-ennobling pseudo-science and endless turbochargers.

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Lexus burns down that trend with the introduction of the GS F. While the four door, five-seater is a true sports car and entirely new to the Lexus line, it’s also a return of sorts for Lexus. The automaker previously rolled in the V8 sport sedan class with the now retired IS F. Built to compete with already established legends like the BMW M3, the IS F was a worthy competitor, but it faded as V8s declined across the auto making industry.

The GS F is the IS F’s successor and its superior. It’s faster, tougher and more advanced that it’s IS class ancestor. The V8 is a 5.0 liter aluminum block monstrousity that puts out 467 horsepower. A proper rear wheel drive powerhouse, the GS F enjoys the input of full Lexus technology with a n eight speed Sport Direct Transmission with paddle shift and manual mode.

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During a recent rollout media event in Madrid, Lexus unleashed the GS F for test laps at speed on they city’s Jarama track. Through lap after lap under the autumnal Spanish sun, the GS F mastered the turns. Using carbon fiber and a blend of other advanced materials, Yukihiko Yaguchi (Emeritus Chief Engineer at Lexus and the team leader behind the GS F and the F Sport makes) put his team to work forging the most rigid body construction in the automaker’s history without adding significant weight to the car. Carbon fiber can do wonderful things.

A fall hatching of flying carpenter ants didn’t stand a chance against those V8s and the 150+ mph they produced on the race course’s straightaways. The cars caused so much insect lid carnage that afternoon the bug gut-caked windshields had to be chemically cleaned and the course closed until said ants decided to take their carpentering elsewhere. A lesser car wouldn’t have compiled such insect carnage so quickly.

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I liked the IS F. I was sad to see it leave the Lexus line — afraid it meant the death of the Holy V8 at Lexus. I missed the car once it faded away. It’s a proper and wonderful thing to see a proper big engine return to Lexus. Those eight cylinders found a proper place to reside in this new GS F.

As Yaguchi put it: “We wanted to create a Lexus that was fun — that was more youthful. To do that, I knew I wanted to return to a V8 engine for the GS F.”

I wonder how Yaguchi might do alongside Mad Max.