…then the redesigned Lexus GS is the recipe you are looking for. It saves you the bother of choosing among luxury, looks and a sporty drive. As we cross the milestone of our 100th post, we bring you the new line of Lexus: essentially designed for a sporty experience with a large helping of opulence, whether you choose the GS 350 F-Sport or the regular GS – despite a more aggressive look that the former sports.
[Read the DriveME Review of the 2013 ES 350 or continue with the GS drive.]
The powerful 3.5L V6 direct-injection engine of the new Lexus GS that produces 312 hp makes sure that you don’t miss its earlier V8 version. While it seems to heave itself into the drive at the onset, this enables a more measured take-off without the G-force descending on you from out of the blues. Weighing more than two tons, the car makes its bulk felt but that only adds to the feeling of control even as the exceptionally smooth steering saves you the sweat. Equipped with the Lexus Dynamic Handling System, this car has a “four-wheel steering” system: the rear wheels tilt by 2-degrees so that the car keeps its poise!
The new GS comes with a drive selector that offers you ECO, Sport and Sport + mode other than the ‘normal’. Stiffening up the suspension and dampers, the Sport + improves on traction and body roll. But the best use of the Sport + is in times of swift and stubborn acceleration. It can smoothly sustain a seamless gearshift all the way to the top, with rpm climbing to 6000+ effortlessly! Of all the drive support features like the advanced cruise control, the Blind Spot Monitor in the GS is one of the best guiding lights in any sedan of its kind.
The Lexus GS 350 rolls on 18” alloys in front and 19” at the rear – an anomaly for better harmony with the road, claims the engineering team at Lexus. As for braking, the GS makes a quick job of it but at times tends to chop-skip-and-stop. These alloys with their tubeless tyres are quite at home on the tarmac. But they tend to get too fluid at times – especially when traversing surfaces with less traction. Then again, it was also a reassuring test of its ESP and ABS and the new “four-wheel steering”.
Between us, in another car, I could have hated this steering. It gives in too easily. Isn’t the fun, and balance, of driving a sports car partly in the flirtatious tussle between the man and the machine, imperceptible to anyone else? Yet, in a Lexus, this mortifying ease is part of its character of “super-fluidity”.
The GS 350 F-Sport stands apart from its meeker siblings with an impressively aggressive spindle grille – the new face of Lexus – and a deeply sculpted and menacingly meshed fender skirting that sharply folds at the flanks. On the dark and glistening 19” wheels, the vehicle gains a wide and “game-for-anything” stance accentuated by a bold one-stroke shoulder line, and diffusers lining the rear bumper.
The regular GS resorts to a more elegant look with a flat, straight lined grille and a smoother bumper styling. The full-bodied and longish profile of the essential GS is maintained in the 2012 design as well, giving it the premium and fast appearance. The use of wood trims and the soft contours with stitched leather oozes luxury. In fact, the wood-leather-golden-stitch combination of the steering wheel looks maliciously delicious.
Cabin and Controls
The super-fluidity that marks the drive continues into the cabin dynamics as well. The freely moving square lump on the tunnel console is the remote with which you and your right-hand rider can control the screen options, as with a mouse. The fluidity of it might nudge you off the mark till you get used to it, but it is a nice techy way to get rid of those zillion buttons that infest many a console.
As expected of a Lexus, the GS cabin is a firewall as far as noise is concerned and its features are elegant and thoughtfully designed. Check out the armrest strait for the mouse. Choke on that sumptuous red leather in the GS F-Sport. Even the dashboard’s analogue clock is a nice touch at the centre of those wide, single-gilled AC vents.
The 12.3” wide screen navigation screen makes sure that functions don’t have to battle for their turn or space, because the split screen tackles dual functions at once. The head-up display projects the rpm climb and the eco-efficiency apart from the speed, but could have been more useful with navigation cues as well. To a guy like me, the auto engagement of the parking brake is an advancement that does away with minor annoyances like reminder alarms or a runaway car!
The Lexus GS was designed to be an executive sedan (a sporty one, but still a luxury executive sedan) as the defunct middle seat at the rear would point out, where it makes way for a multicontrol mounted armrest. Still, your sensitive aunt will appreciate the freedom to choose anything from the climate to the audio levels in the rear.
Needless to say, these leather seats are shaped to give luxurious comfort and great long-haul support while the excellent damping in the Normal mode gives the car a gliding feeling over road imperfections. A cavernous boot, easily managed ISOFIX clip-ons, and a sunscreen that even covers the quarter glass are great examples of care that your family will enjoy in the GS. And on that Friday family trip, the 12.3” wide screen and the 17-speaker Mark Levinson system can actually turn the cabin into a home theatre away from home.
The essential GS
My drive offered many suggestions for defining the F in the F-Sport badge. (And that goes for the rest of the GS family as well.) Every time it revved beyond 2500 rpm, it vaguely suggested the F1 spirit that its V6 aspirates. Why, F could simply mean ‘Fast’ as it outperforms almost every other 3.5L luxury sedan in its 0-100 dash of 6.25 seconds. Or in pure Lexus tradition, it could stand for Finesse. Yes, that is it. Finesse so well describes its interiors as well as its sophisticated demeanour. But hey, wait a minute! There is one ‘F’ word that could sum up the good and the bad (there is nothing “ugly” about this car) about the 2012 Lexus GS F-Sport: FLUID.
UPSIDE: Premium cabin features, Reliable blind spot monitor, Luxurious cabin finesse, Excellent long-drive comfort, Deep boot space
FLIPSIDE: Too fluid for an authentic sporty feel, Seats only four, Low steering engagement
Drive courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors Lexus
Picture courtesy: Lexus/Sudeep Koshy