The GS-F has the makings to be the next E39 BMW M5.
As luxury automakers continually move away from analog performance, car enthusiasts are being forced to sift through history to find pure driving experiences. Many experts say the E39 generation BMW M5 was the ultimate analog driver's sedan - it had a naturally aspirated V8, rear-wheel-drive, and a manual transmission. Finding a sedan with all three of these attributes is difficult in 2019 and even buying a well-kept E39 is starting to become expensive.
It may not have all three elements but we believe the Lexus GS F will be the next used performance sedan enthusiasts look back on with nostalgia. The Lexus GS faces an uncertain future, meaning we do not know how many years it even has left. Used prices have reached affordable levels, which is why now might be the right time to buy a GS F.
The Lexus GS F has all the makings of the perfect driver's sedan. There's a big V8 under the hood, it has a wonderful exhaust note, the steering is excellent, and it is RWD. While there's no manual transmission, the number of people who want to row their own gears in traffic is a small minority. The GS F also has the most important element a used performance car can possibly have - it's a Lexus.
There's a reason why everyone didn't go out and buy a used BMW M5 instead of a brand-new Toyota Camry. Yes, the cost of entry would have been similar at one point but the moment the first repair bill came in you would instantly regret the M5 purchase. The GS F will still be more expensive than a mainstream car for items like tires, brakes, oil changes, and fuel stops, but in the long run, it should continue to run without any catastrophic failures or massive repair bills.
Lexus introduced the GS F as the second model in the F Performance range back in 2016 and has continued to sell it into the 2019 model year. The car hasn't changed much in that time, except for a few special editions and color changes, so the only missing element from an early example will be the warranty coverage. Since it was built by Lexus, a company famed for its reliability, we'd say the warranty is slightly less important than it would be on an equivalent German luxury car.
A brand-new 2019 GS F will set you back $84,600 but you can now find a used 2016 example for around half the price. These examples will typically have over 50,000 miles on them but if you are willing to spend above $50,000, you can get a certified pre-owned example with less than 30,000 on the odometer. The GS F likely has a bit lower to fall in price but now might be a great time to buy a pristine one with a CPO warranty before the second and third owners inevitably come along to ruin them.
If your main concern is hitting the drag strip every weekend, the GS F is probably the wrong car for you. The car is fast, but the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive competition from Germany will be much quicker in a straight line. This car is for people who enjoy driving and put less of an emphasis on performance figures. But don't for a minute think the GS F is slow. It is powered by a wonderful 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 singing a 467 horsepower rock ballad with 389 lb-ft of torque as an encore.
Few modern engines can match this V8 on exhaust note and power goes out to the rear wheels through a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. 0-60 mph in the 4,034-pound sedan takes around 4.5 seconds and if you live near the Autobahn (or a drag strip), you'll be able to hit 168 mph.
Lexus knows how to craft a luxurious interior that will stand the test of time. It doesn't have the latest modern technology like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but the basic functions like navigation and Bluetooth are there. Remember, the E39 M5 doesn't have the best technology either. But even though the Lexus tech leaves a lot to be desired, the rest of the cabin is fabulous.
All of the leathers and other materials feel premium and it will all work 20 years from now. The GS F includes special touches like aggressive F seats (which are still heated and ventilated), carbon-fiber trim, an F steering wheel, and LFA-inspired digital gauges. Lexus' Remote Touch interface can be annoying to use every day but there are helpful shortcut buttons on the dash and steering wheel.
The GS F may be the fastest GS model but it hasn't lost any practicality over a base four-cylinder or V6 model. In the rear, passengers are treated to 32.8 inches of legroom and the trunk offers 14.1 cubic feet of storage. There is one big penalty you will have to pay for driving the GS F versus a lesser GS model. Fuel economy is an abysmal 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway and the EPA says you will struggle to get 19 mpg combined. We've tested the Lexus RC F and LC 500, which use the same engine, and if you hyper-mile them on the highway, you can eke out 30 mpg if you are careful.
There are plenty of depreciating luxury performance sedans on the used market but the Lexus GS F is among a handful we would recommend due to its low running costs and stellar reliability. In a few years, we will look back on the GS F as the last "pure" driver's sedan with RWD and a naturally aspirated engine as the segment shifts to turbocharging, AWD, and even electrification. The GS F is the last of an era for performance sedans and now is the time to buy one before everyone else realizes it.