Lexus GS Review: Legendary Midrange Luxury
15 August 2013 - Shawn Jooste
Lexus have some reputation building luxurious quality sedans. Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota, so combined with the luxury in their sedans, you get the legendary Toyota reliability standard.
The GS 350 is their midrange sedan, sitting between the IS and LS ranges. The GS range has a couple of engines, and the one we tested is the 350, which is a 3.5-litre V6.
It’s built as a competitor to the BMW 5 series, E Class Merc, and Audi A6, and does a pretty fine job of standing up to them, while delivering more value.
The 3.0-litre V6 in the front produces 233kW, which is a serious amount of power. The way Lexus manage to deliver that power though is what makes the car as great as it is. There isn’t much fuss or drama, the engine doesn’t growl or spit, it just gives you the power in a smooth effortless delivery.
Handling is excellent too, steering is light and while there is some electronic deadness, it suits the silentl powerful nature of the car.
In the centre arm rest there is a big round knob, which allows you to switch from sport mode to eco mode, or stay in normal mode. In eco mode the car hums along quite nicely, obviously trying to conserve fuel as much as possible. Throttle response is reduced, and the car holds onto the gears for much longer before gearing down.
In sport mode the GS 350 becomes a bit more assertive, the throttle response is improved, and the revs are kept up for a lot longer giving you more readily available power when you need it.
As you’d imagine, in sport mode the GS 350 is much more thirsty than in eco mode. We averaged about 10.5 L/100km in eco mode, and as high as 12 L/100km in sport mode.
On the inside you’re really spoilt with the tech. In the centre of the dash is an enormous 12.3” screen where you can control just about every aspect of the car. You get a small computer mouse like device that you use to control the screen with.
The tech extends to just about every aspect of the Lexus. For instance, there isn’t a handbrake. There is a little button below the steering where, if you chose to, you could switch it on or off, but with the auto button selected, the handbrake engages when you put the car in park, and disengages when you take it out of park. Clever car!
The comfort in the Lexus GS 350 is superb. It comes standard with a really nice leather finish. The seats front and rear are incredibly comfortable to sit in, so comfortable in fact that you feel like you could spend all day just sitting.
The GS 350 comes with a number of other comfort features, such as keyless entry, and keyless start using a button on the dash. When you lock the car by touching the door handle, the wing mirrors fold in, and then when you unlock the car the mirrors fold out again.
In line with the comfort of the Lexus, the practicality comes standard. Rear boot space is very good, leg room at the back is sufficient to keep two adults comfortable for a while, and in front you have everything you could need, from cup holders to storage compartments and switches and knobs to control everything.
One thing that does become a little issue, is the limited use of the central screen while driving. It’s built for the protection of the driver, but means that a passenger can’t enter a destination into the Sat Nav when the car is in motion. The Driver will always have to pull over, which is safer than operating the screen while driving, but could be problematic if you’re lost in a dangerous area.
If you’re in the market for a midsize powerful saloon, then the Lexus GS 350 is a serious contender. Not only does it come standard with a lot of kit, it’s pretty good value for money too. Coming in at R584,000 including all the kit, it’s significantly cheaper than some of the German competitors, yet it doesn’t lack any of the luxury.
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