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I’ll start my review with a huge thumbs-up to Lexus Hedge End. They’re consistently a pleasure to deal with but this time one of their sales guys and true petrol head, Michael, really pulled out the stops for me... I’ve been given a LC500 as a courtesy car. So, “how does it compare to the GSF on a rain-soaked February afternoon?” I hear you all ask... Under normal driving, it’s remarkably familiar! The engine is the same 5.0 V8, albeit with twin intakes over the single one of the GSF/RCF. The gearbox is now a 10-speed, with a slightly clumsy new design of shifter, but economy appeared the same. The rear-wheel steering is unusual! Sage advice from a slightly nervous Michael - “take the first few roundabouts gently, and don’t steer as much as you think you need to!” He was right - it feels like the rear wheels are sliding sideways! An odd experience, but ok once you learn to work with it. I believe the rear wheels turn slightly in opposite directions to the fronts at low speeds, effectively shortening the wheelbase - this has the result of making the car feel more like a go-kart, together with the Torque Vectoring Differential. The opposite happens at high speed to increase stability. Picking the speed up, the twin intakes give the V8 a proper howling scream above 6500rpm with lovely pops and the occasional crackle on a downshift. The car is more of a GT that can be hustled than a sports car - I though it felt it’s weight a bit more than the GSF. The OEM tyres are 21” runflats and provide good, if not exceptional grip - perhaps the non-RFs on the GSF as well as, frankly, me owning rather than borrowing it, allowed me to push the saloon harder. The ride quality is good - only the occasional thump over really bad roads, but I did notice a bit of squirming over undulating poorly maintained tarmac. The brake pedal felt slightly spongy, but the stopping ability was good. Inside, the seats are just as supportive, the cabin roomy (in the front) and the equipment list is extensive. Many of the features the GSF has buttons for are now incorporated into the computer, which now uses a touch pad to navigate instead of a mouse-lever-platform-type thing. Compared to the (dare I say “corporate”) interior of the GSF, the designers have really cut loose here! They seem to have used every type of material/surface/texture they could get their hands on, with bold, swooping lines devouring the insides of the doors. This is, of course a matter of taste, but I found it a little busy. A few bits of the switchgear are in different places - I particularly like the drive mode selector and the traction control knob to either side of the instrument binnacle - a nice nod to the utterly unobtainable LFA. There’s not much room in the back - it’s a 2+2 at an absolute push - I’d say if the person in the front seat is 6ft+, you’ve just generated a bag storage area behind. Finally - is this a car I’d look to trade up to? I’m not sure. It’s very good indeed, but apart from the looks, it feels so similar to my GSF (not a bad thing!!), I’d need to think about it more. I’d like to try the hybrid sister LC500h before a firm verdict! So, there you have it. Enjoy the pictures!
Note to moderator- please leave this in the ISF forum, it’s more likely to be of interest to ISF owners than GS owners. After one year running a GSF, I thought you might be interested in my experiences compared to my previous early ISF. First thing to say is that running a high performance car like this makes no sense at all in the suburban environment that I live in. It drinks petrol in traffic, it’s big to park and you cannot use the power. However, I don’t care about all that, I love driving it, I love the noise and I’ll continue until the eco mentailists or the mayor makes it impossible. I’ve always loved muscle cars and this is definitely a muscle car. In summary I’d say it is an evolution of the ISF, it rides better than my 2008 ISF, it feels more planted and agile despite its size, and it has a slightly more bubbly exhaust note, but it still retains all the other ISF traits such as build quality that we are all familiar with. It is more relaxing to drive than the ISF due to the better ride. A couple of longish trips have been made with no driver fatigue whatsoever. It has of course been absolutely reliable, (but I haven’t yet done that many miles). Update after year 2. One glitch was a broken windscreen which took about 3 weeks to sort because Lexus couldn’t supply one right away. I hope this is not a flag that parts are going to be difficult because Lexus have only sold about 50 of these and their bean counters won’t be happy about stocking spares that might be slow moving. To be fair they did loan me a car for 2 of the 3 weeks. The much criticised mouse controller for the sat nav and audio is fine, it just takes getting used to and the sat nav now accepts full postcodes. The info display on the panel is a lot simpler than it looks, again just need to get used to it. Has a lot more information such as g forces, but it no longer has a battery voltage display! The car complains if the battery voltage is getting low though. The car has a lane departure warning system which can be set up to correct the steering if you wander out of lane. This has been turned off. The car is not driving, I am. It has speed limit detection which displays the speed limit on the dash and the HUD. The only thing is that some of the road signs near where I live confuse it and it displays “unusual” speed limits. Don’t think the magistrate would accept that the car told me the limit was 90, when it was really 40. The headlights are pretty good but possibly not quite as good as the ISF. The 4 driving modes can be summed up: Economy and normal – no perceptible difference in feel or fuel consumption between these, feels slightly softer than the ISF in normal driving. Gearbox sometimes reluctant to change down when you boot it. Sport – similar to the Sport mode on the ISF. Gearbox more responsive. Nicer to drive in this mode. Fuel consumption similar to Normal and possibly a bit better providing you can actually drive the car rather than sitting in queues. Sport + -Don’t select this in the wet, there’ll be a lot of traction control warnings at even quite modest throttle inputs. Hangs on to lower gears for some time after you’ve finished accelerating. Very entertaining in the dry though and much easier to get the engine into the 3500rpm+ range. This is the mode that reveals the true brute character of the car, (when you get a chance to use it). I can’t say what Sport+ does to fuel consumption as the opportunities to use it for any distance haven’t been there. Haven’t tried the diff setting options yet. The finish on the car is superb, people have commented that even when it is obviously dirty it still shines. My car was a demonstrator so it may have been coated. Costs – Service due next week, but for some reason Lexus think it’s OK to put a £100 premium on the servicing costs over the ISF. Insurance – you have to shop around. Most companies load the premium because of the value of the car. I managed to get cover for about the same as the old ISF but had to accept a £750 excess which I covered for another £60. Not so good points: No spare and you can’t buy one in this country even though the handbook mentions a space saver. I don’t like the idea of a can of goo which will render the tyre unrepairable and probably screw up the TPMS sensors. Does anyone have any ideas where a spare can be obtained? The boot is enormous but the rear seats still don’t fold. Why?? No passenger front seat lumbar adjustment – penny pinching on a £72K car! But the wife thinks the seats are OK! Possible costs of brake pads and discs – horrendous costs have been mentioned on the forum for RCF items and the GSF uses the same parts. Non-Lexus parts seem to be unobtainable in the UK at the moment. Not an immediate problem but one that needs to be kept under review. If anybody knows where to get RCF/GSF pads and discs from somewhere other than Lexus UK, please shout. Graham