If BMW can build an M Sport version of its 7 Series executive sedan, then by golly, Lexus is going to build an F-SPORT version of its LS460. And they’re going to let us drive it.
Hopping out of our previous tester, the Scion FR-S and into the Lexus division’s heavyweight contender for full-size hot rod kind of gives us sympathy for how most open-wheel racers must feel the first time they venture into NASCAR. Going from the FR-S, with its light sub-2,800-lb chassis and 200 horsepower boxer four cylinder into a 4,365-lb, 386-horsepower V8-powered sled is daunting the first time you try to “see what she’s got.” Taking the LS460 F-SPORT down my favored twisty, narrow test route showed me immediately that we’re dealing with a different beast here.
That starts not only with its difference in power, but in how that power is delivered. With an automatic transmission featuring two more gears than the Scion (a total of eight, for those keeping score at home) and a much faster torque onset than the boxer four, the LS460 F-SPORT bristles, then shoots to ludicrous speeds with surprising quickness when you lay into the skinny pedal. The chassis soaks up bumps and potholes and isolates engine noise to the degree that you don’t realize how fast you’re going, which is totally unlike the Scion FR-S and its hard-riding, stiff suspension and rev-happy engine. Half the fun of driving the Scion was how it gave you the sensation of speed. The LS460 F-SPORT mutes that sensation to the extent that, by the time your neurons start firing to say, “Hey, we’re really moving along here,” you look down at the speedometer to find you are REALLY moving along. I was cruising down a 45-MPH stretch of lightly traveled three-lane city street when I glanced at the speedometer and realized I was doing something like 62 MPH. That’s a quiet, well-composed chassis, right there.
Thankfully, the LS460 F-SPORT has plenty of “woah” to rein in its “go.” Up front are 14.8-inch ventilated Brembos with opposed six-piston calipers clamping down on them, while the rear is slowed by 13.1-inch ventilated discs with opposed two-piston calipers. Like its little sister, the GS F-SPORT we tested a few weeks ago, the brakes in the LS460 F-SPORT have a lot of bite. Almost too much, in fact, for me to stop as smoothly as I prefer to stop when rolling up to traffic lights. When these brakes come on, they COME ON. That’s a wonderful thing when you have to stop for a herd of deer crossing the road or when you don’t want Johnny Law to catch you naively doing 62 in a 45, but it can be an annoyance while creeping from stoplight to stoplight those first few days while you acclimate yourself to the brakes’ right now performance.
The acceleration summoned from the gas pedal, while strong when prodded by a heavy right foot, does not share the same immediacy of action as the brake pedal under light pressures in casual driving. It’s like the tuning I’d imagine Chevrolet was trying to achieve in our Equinox LTZ tester. Throttle tip-in is smooth, and the amount of giddyup seems to build slowly in the first eighth of the floor-hinged gas pedal’s range. This makes smooth takeoffs easy as pie, and keeps you from ramming the car in front of you at the bank drive-thru as it pulls away from the window.
Speaking of bank, you’d better have plenty of it if you want to add an LS460 F-SPORT to your garage. Our tester rings the bell at more than $86,000– and that’s before taxes. In addition to the supreme chassis composure we’ve outlined here, that kind of money gets you a lot of tech goodies. More about those in posts later this week.
Disclaimer: Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.