“It’s a very special car for us,” says Giri Venkatesh from Lexus Asia Pacific. “It’s really about pushing the boundaries for Lexus and delivering a level of performance for customers that they’ve not seen before.”
The car, in question, is the first GS F, the latest performance vehicle to join the Japanese automaker’s F portfolio. Launched in Japan in October last year and in Singapore — one of the first markets in Asia — during the Singapore Motorshow 2016 in January, the four-seater sports sedan, powered by a robust five-litre V8 engine, is the brand’s response to feedback received from its customers.
Requests for a four-seater performance car first started trickling in after the RC F launched the year before. Although designed to bring the exhilaration of racetrack driving to the road, the two-seater coupe was well-received by the public.
“The RC F has got more of a direct racing pedigree. For example, the RC F is now used in racing championships like the Japan GT500 series,” explains the general manager of brand management. “While it maintains that racing pedigree, the GS F is more of a luxury grand tourer that can also be used as an everyday car.”
Every decision by the brand to produce a car begins and ends with the customer, says Venkatesh. So the introduction of the new GS F is purely based on their needs and wants; and in this case, what they wanted is a high-performance car that is also able to accommodate more passengers. “For those who want power, engagement on the road and performance, but at the same time, fit four people comfortably, that’s where the GS F comes in,” Ventakesh says.
But it’s not just about responding to customer demand. It’s also in the Lexus spirit to push boundaries in engineering and technology — a philosophy that brought the brand to life in the first place. It is also how the F range came about, starting with the IS F, which gave birth to the production of the award-winning limited edition supercar, the LFA.
“The inspiration of [the F line-up] was: Can we deliver a car that we’ve never delivered before? It was like going back to the roots of Lexus back in 1983, when our leaders of the company then challenged us on whether we can build a car that’s going to compete with the best,” Venkatesh says.
The success of LFA is proof of Lexus’ top-notch engineering ability. He adds: “We are pushing the boundaries within the company to produce a better, more performance-oriented car. Our Chief Branding Officer and President, Mr Akio Toyoda, is really driving Lexus to be at the forefront, in terms of the type of performance we can deliver.”
With the IS F and the well-loved LFA no longer in production, the F range of the brand — which works as how the AMG range is to Mercedes-Benz or the M series to BMW — is marked by the RC F and now, the GS F.
So just how much power will the GS F have? It’ll produce 470bhp and a peak torque of 530Nm with a 7,100rpm redline. Which means this relatively new contender in the performance car segment fares pretty well alongside more seasoned automakers. The Audi S6, for instance, hits 440bhp of power with its four-litre V8 twin-turbo engine, while the BMW M5 peaks at 550bhp.
So well-received is the GS F that as of January (approximately three months after its initial launch), almost 300 units have been delivered globally. According to Ventakesh, the current waiting period for the car in Japan alone is a year — a clear indication of the length of the car’s wait list. “We’re only just starting to launch it in Asia so I’m quite encouraged and hopefully we will be able to meet customer’s expectations [in this region].”
As to whether or not there will be another F model soon, Ventakesh says: “I can’t tell you whether we will have another F. It’s a question of what our priorities are and whether our customers’ demand will be there.”
Nevertheless, there is an exciting product line-up from the brand ahead. “There was a sneak preview at the Detroit Motor Show where we revealed a production car, the LC500. So I think the Singaporean market is going to be treated to some wonderful cars coming out of Lexus.”