The question “What If?” is responsible for more great innovation than its diminutive word count would suggest. What if we put a man on the Moon? What if we could split the atom? What if we could connect computers around the world? What if we charge people for WiFi in their hotel rooms? (Great innovation isn’t always great for everyone, after all).
It takes equal parts dreaminess and curiosity to ask the really good What If questions. Often there’s a healthy dash of mischief involved, too. And while, we’re not about to compare putting a man on the Moon to building a car, Lexus recently did ask a very good What If of their own.
You can imagine a lone product planner or engineer, having tried but failed to transport his entire family in the two-door Lexus RC F coupe. Pity him. He relishes how fast and downright menacing the RC F is, but he concedes it’s not exacly family-car material.
Nobody at Lexus has said anything officially, but assume the “F” stands for Fast.
So he asks: What if we put that high-revving, race-bred V8 engine from the RC F into a big luxury sedan, like say, the GS?
As far as automotive What Ifs go, that’s a pretty wild one. The best part though is that Lexus will be answering that question. They’re going to build this monster and ready it for market later this year.
It’ll be called the GS F, and it’s the latest in an exclusive line of super high-performance F-badged vehicles from Lexus dating back to the IS F and the LF-A supercar. (Nobody at Lexus has said anything officially, but assume the “F” stands for Fast.)
The engine going under the knurled hood of the GS F is worth highlighting, and not just because it will surely dominate the driving experience.
The V8 is special for a more esoteric reason. This engine is among the last of the pure, naturally aspirated motors on sale. To meet fuel economy regulations, most other automakers have fitted their engines with turbochargers or superchargers. They tend to mute the sound of an engine, and take away its high-revving crescendo of power. Even Ferrari recently halted production of their naturally-aspired V8 and replaced it with a twin-turbo unit.
What if we put that high-revving, race-bred V8 engine from the RC F into a big luxury sedan, like say, the GS?
So, a pure V8 like the one in the GS F a rare treat. The 5.0-litre engine spins to over 7,000 rpm where it makes 467 horsepower. Putting a motor like this into a family sedan is like building a Saturn V rocket for your school science project. Glorious overkill.
Because of the large 5.0-litre displacement, the engine produces a hefty 389 lb-ft of torque, meaning the car will be as well suited to a relaxed cruise around town as it will be for a track day at the Nurburgring.
In fact, Lexus used that famously difficult German race circuit to refine the high-speed handling of the GS F. Compared to the standard GS, the F uses stiffer suspension, an adjustable torque vectoring differential, larger tires and an upgraded braking system. An eight-speed automatic handles the gear shifting, but it can be manually controlled via steering-wheel mounted paddles.
From the outside, the GS F is remarkably restrained. It barely hints at what’s under the hood. The only clues coming from four chrome tailpipes, 19-inch alloy wheels and a larger version of the Lexus signature spindle grille.
The point, says Lexus, was to make a car that’s fun to drive in any situation, not just on weekend blasts to the countryside, but on the daily commute or running errands too.
What if there was one car that could do it all?