Hot V8 summer fun in new Lexus GS F performance sedanFeb 14th, 2016
The days leading up to February 14’s New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfield in the Manawatu were the time for practice and honing of the performance and handling capabilities of the vehicles that were to be raced – everything from open-wheel single-seaters to utes.
On Friday, as the race teams took an hour off for lunch, a standard-looking silver sedan accelerated out of the Manfeild pits for a series of hot laps. But it wasn’t just any sedan. This was the latest high-performance model to join the Lexus vehicle fleet in New Zealand, the 351 kW 5.0-litre V8-engined GS F which has just entered the Kiwi market with a list price of $174,900.
The high-performance sedan was allowed on the track because Lexus had arranged for a fleet of its models to join the Toyota Racing series as part of what is known as the Lexus Summer of Performance. Some of these vehicles were being used to give invited guests on-track experience – even though, because the events were sanctioned by Motorsport New Zealand, these guests were being driven rather than allowed to drive
And so on Friday as the GS F slipped out of Manfeild pit lane and accelerated hard to the first corner, We were in the passenger seat, and the person behind the wheel was Cromwell-based motor racing veteran Grant Aitken
Both Aitken and the Lexus handled the assignment with ease, the Cromwell man clearly impressed with the car’s engine performance, braking capability and level of handling. The GS F really is an exceptional drive, he said as we braked hard then shot around one of the Manfeild bends. Those on the market for a high-performance medium-large luxury sedan should place it on their consideration list, he added.
Immediately following the hot laps, the Lexus NZ people handed us the keys to another GS F and invited us to spend some time on the public roads in Manawatu. Yeah, right. Ever tried to keep road speeds down straight after tearing around a racetrack? It’s almost impossible in such a high-performance car. We were quickly forced to keep things in check by hitting the cruise control button.
What Lexus officially describes as its F vehicles are high-performance cars specially developed by the Lexus Vehicle Performance Development Division, and they are not to be confused with the brand’s F Sport models that are essentially standard Lexus vehicles with sportier trim. It’s just like Germany’s BMW does with its M and M Sport models.
The first F model was the Lexus IS F sedan, and that 5.0-litre V8 beauty impressed plenty of people when it was launched in 2007. It was followed in 2009 with the sensational V10-engined LFA supercar which you can’t buy new in New Zealand. Then last year Lexus launched the RC F coupe, and now it has followed it up with the GS F sedan.
Lexus says it isn’t chasing high sales volume with the likes of the RC F and GS F – which is just as well, because at around $174,000 they are certainly not inexpensive – and instead the manufacturer intends the vehicles to deliver the ultimate driving experience for those who seek genuine performance potential.
Well, the GS F certainly does that.