The Lexus GS F holds up to great expectations.

when many think of the Lexus brand of luxury vehicles, quiet, an absorbing ride, and/or reliability may come to mind. However, slowly but surely, Lexus is offering a mind-changer in the form of performance models. Th e magic symbol for this transition is the F model designation.

In the case of the Lexus midsize, four-door sedan, the GS model, a very large V-8 resides under the hood. Its powerplant has 5 liters of displacement and produces 467 horsepower. Transmission choice is simple: there is none. You receive an eight-speed automatic, which can be shifted three ways. First, of course, is simply leave it in drive, and it will take care of itself. Manual-shift fans can choose to glide between gears via either the paddles behind the steering wheel or moving a gearshift lever (located to the left) with up-and-down taps.

Yet another choice awaits the auto enthusiast: a dial on the console can change the automatic shifting pattern, and likewise tighten up the suspension. In the Econ mode, shifting takes place quickly to attain a higher and a more fuel economical gear position. Moving to standard and then sport positions holds the gears longer and adds to the performance. In the full blast operation, the zero-to-60 time is a very short 4.6 seconds.

Starting the motor is easy. With the fob on or near you, the nice, throaty V-8 rumble is just a quick slap of the start engine button away. Th e ride is also clearly on the handling side of the equation. Th e suspension setting is not of the “I will absorb every bump” variety. It is taut and direct without being overly harsh. Th e effect is, fortunately, to corner with precision and directness.

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Model: Four-door, mid-size sedan Powertrain: 5-liter v-8 engine, 467 horsepower, eight-speed automatic Performance: Zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds; top Speed: 168 mph electronic features: 12.3-inch video screen with 3-d navigation, radio, bluetooth, back-up camera; single dvd/cd player; video dash pod with tach in the center and vehicle data; usb port; heads-up display Price: $83,445, as tested $86,708

The exterior of this GS stresses the speed theme and is substantially different from the normal GS. First, the wheels are large 19-inch ones with the orange Brembo brake calibers being prominently displayed. Th e large mouth Lexus grill is lower with a very low front air spoiler added. Behind the front wheel wells are air vents craved out of the body. Both the side and rear of the body are lowered with the addition of shirts. And a carbon fiber spoiler sits atop the trunk. Four large canted exhaust pipes are also added. These additions not only sets this GS apart from its lesser brethren, but resulted in a number of Honolulu residents indicating their collective approval.

The interior further reflects the performance orientation, but with a luxury spin. The leather front seats feature interesting patterns that have both hefty side bolsters and multicolor stitching. Both carbon-fiber inserts and Alcantara cloth are spread around the interior to break up the leather.

The center video screen is very large (over a foot in diameter) and is controlled by a small mouse on the center console. In navigation mode, the screen shows 3-D renditions of Honolulu buildings. And when, for example, the radio screen is selected, one-third of the screen shows a map with your location highlighted.

Above the dash pod, which by the way, reinforces the performance orientation with the tach in the center, is a heads-up display on the interior of the windshield showing the speed, the speed limit or a lane marker. Weaving out of the lane results in a little buzz sound, and to avoid danger in front, a stop warning appears in the windshield. With various buttons on the steering wheel, both the data and functions can be controlled in both the dash pod and the center video screen.

Two can sit comfortably in the back seat—and three in a pinch. A large armrest can be dropped for use, extra storage, and some pop out beverage holders. Two air vents are located behind the center console. Th e trunk lid can be popped open with a button on the dash or the remote. Trunk space is good, but somewhat awkward because the cover over the big wheel/tire in the center the trunk floor.

So now that you know that Lexus with the F designation attached is to be reckoned with in both performance and styling, you can reconsider your Lexus perception. In a word, times and performance expectations are a-changing and Lexus has moved up to meet that challenge.