Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The fourth-generation Lexus GS350 range hit our showrooms in April 2012 and the GS450h range landed in May 2012. Featuring an all-new model line-up, engine variants, design and on-board technology; ensuring that the new Lexus GS is a sure player in the grand touring sports sedan segment.

The range comes in the choice of three grades – Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury, however all grades come with the new bold and ever so aggressive redesigned front end.

Luxury and Sports Luxury grades share the same exterior styling while F Sport grades elevate exterior design to the next level.

GS F Sport grades get a slightly tweaked front grille and bumper, rear bumper and lip spoiler, 19-inch alloys and F Sport badging.
Not so good The new front end of the GS range is very masculine and aggressive, and a definite plus. However, the rear end styling seems bland and boxy in comparison to the rest of the vehicle.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The Lexus GS is one comfy grand touring sports sedan. The interior is ergonomically designed and driver-focused, allowing you to remain comfortable over long journeys. The centre of the dash is dominated by a 12.3-inch multimedia display that is standard on all Sports Luxury models and as an add option on selected models, while an eight-inch multimedia screen is standard on GS 250 and 350 Luxury and F Sport models.

Both multimedia displays are positioned directly in the driver's line of sight, making them easy to read and operate.

To navigate through the various options and menus, the GS range is fitted with a second generation Lexus Remote Touch (LTR) system. Occupants can navigate through climate control settings, audio functions, Sat Nav and phone options via a mouse ‘like’ device that is positioned on the centre console. The device is a movable flat button that moves up, down, side to side and diagonally rather than an arch movement. The button can also be pressed down to select menus which replaces the previous generation controller's separate 'enter' buttons.

Overall fit and finish is top notch, Lexus has done a great job in ensuring that every piece of the GS’s cabin fits flush, with minimal gaps throughout the interior. The choice of materials are also quite impressive, the leather seats are soft and very comfortable.

Luxury models feature leather-accented interior, dual-zone climate control, ventilated and heated front seats and 10-way electric seats with three-position driver's memory.

Meanwhile, GS 250 and 350 F Sport models come equipped with sports pedals, unique interior trim and 16-way driver's sport bucket seats. The multifunction steering wheel is electronically adjustable for both rake (up & down) and reach (in & out). So there isn’t any problem in finding the most suitable driving position.
Not so good The Heads Up Display (HUD) found in the GS 350 F Sport grade isn’t quite as refined as some of its competitors have on offer.
Performance

Performance

Good The fourth-generation Lexus GS range is powered by two V6 petrol engines and a V6 petrol hybrid.

The GS250 range is powered by a 2.5-litre quad cam, dual VVT-i direct-injectionV6 petrol engine that produces 154kW of power and 253Nm of torque when matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Meanwhile, the GS 350 range features a 3.5-litre quad cam, dual VVT-i dual-injection V6 petrol engine that manages 233kW of power and 378Nm of torque when matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.5-litre engine manages 9.7 litres per 100kms (combined cycle) while the 2.5-litre manages 9.3 litres per 100kms.

The GS450h features a 3.5-litre V6 petrol that produces 215kW of power and 352Nm of torque while the 650-volt synchronous electric drive motor produces 147kW of power and 275Nm torque. However, when combined the two engines produce 254kW of power.

Sending power to the rear wheels is a planetary-gear continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has paddle-shift levers behind the steering wheel.

The 3.5-litre is one superb engine and it sounds even better, it’s like a V6 running on a V8 soundtrack, once you push the GS350 above 4000rpm all hell breaks loose.

Once you have put the GS into manual mode the transmission holds gears for longer, the good thing about this is it allows you to continually drive in the optimal power band which is around 3500rpm and 5000rpm.

When M range (manual sequential - 'Sport M') is selected, the driver also benefits from the control of gear changes via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles or the gear knob.

With rapid up-shifting and throttle blipping on downshifts, the transmission allows for faster, smoother downshifts, this adds to the overall sporty driving experience.

On the other hand the GS450h is very quiet, when you start the car the electric motor is running the car in utter silence. Once you take off you hear a slight growl of the 3.5-litre V6. You can tell that the GS450h is one refined machine, because it delivers great levels performance while remaining very quiet.
Not so good Having a naturally aspirated engine is good because there are less moving parts to break down and service. However, other manufactures that use force induction make use with smaller engines that can result in reduced overall fuel consumption. However, the GS450h does a great job in offering a balance between performance and fuel economy.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The fourth-generation Lexus GS range offers up a greater level of sporty driving and performance with the addition of a Drive Mode Select function.

Drive Mode Select allows the driver to choose between ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT+ (F Sport and Sports Luxury models) mode.

Standard on GS 250 F Sport, 350 F Sport and Sports Luxury models, SPORT+ mode modifies steering and chassis control for a more sporting drive.

SPORT+ mode combines SPORT mode's sharpened gearing and engine response with specific control of key systems like Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), Electric Power Steering (EPS) and, on GS 350 F Sport the Lexus Dynamic Handling System, Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) and Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS).

Now, I know what you’re thinking what’s all that mumbo jumbo mean?

Simply put - the suspension is stiffened, steering is sharpened and more direct, and finally, GS' stability and traction control are relaxed for less intrusion during enthusiastic driving. In short = more fun!
Not so good The SPORT+ mode is only available on GS 250 F Sport, 350 F Sport and Sports Luxury models.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good The Japanese luxury brand has most definitely taken the fight to its German competitors. Priced well below anything on the market, that features the same amount of standard equipment and with such quality fit and finish.
Not so good Perhaps the only shame is that the GS range doesn’t come with a diesel option that would be great for highway driving. Although bang for and sheer smile value more than makes up for this minor intercession.