Grand Saloon: new Lexus GS driven

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Grand Saloon: new Lexus GS driven

Driven February 1st, 2012

Rated 1 out of 10

A new car is always exciting. An all-new car is even more exciting. Yes, there is a difference between the two. A new car could be a facelift, a ‘refreshed’ version of the model it replaces, usually with a new body kit, new wheels, some new gadgets and that’s that. An all-new car is new from its tyres up. Everything is new, improved, better, and in the case of this all-new Lexus GS you see here, much better looking than its predecessor as well.

 

At the launch dinner, after a few glasses of sake, I asked the engineer in charge of the GS how much more better the new car is over the outgoing model. The answer came smothered in a thick Japanese accent, “Keshy-san, it’s one hundred per cent better than the last one, you must drive it to believe it.”

 

 

And drive it I will, I didn’t travel across different time zones all the way to the US of A to stand and admire the new GS, though it’s a good looking car, I’m here to drive it as fast as I can. Before I get to the driving bit, I want to tell you a little about the new GS. If you pull up a picture of the old third generation GS, you would notice that the design is a complete evolution. And though it sits a couple of inches wider and longer, its proportions are largely unchanged, in fact there’s almost nothing similar to the old GS.

 

The design is completely new, Lexus calls it the L-Finesse, it’s the new design language from the Lexus design studio’s and it started with the CT200h. The L-Finesse philosophy will soon be a part of every Lexus model; in short, every Lexus model will soon feature that distinct angular design.

 

 

Expectedly the interior is comfortable and very nearly silent. There’s a ‘Nanoe’ technology air-conditioning that refreshes your skin and hair while you drive and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system serenades you in your favourite music. The dials and controls are typically Lexus – solidly built – but there’s still a hint of mass produced plastics.

 

The centre 12.3-inch LCD screen is the largest in the automotive business and is able to display two different types of information simultaneously such as GPS and audio settings. However, the star of the new GS is the world’s first Bamboo finishing. Some say it’s a cost saving manoeuvre, but I say see it first before you judge because it truly is a stunning interior. Besides, being expensive doesn’t mean it’s better, and the bamboo interior demonstrates that perfectly. Sadly though, the bamboo interior is only available for the top of the line GS450h. However, owners can still opt for an equally stunning Ebony, Walnut, Black Gloss or Aluminium finishing.

 

 

As for power, the GS features plenty of that too. The GS450h features a 3.5-litre V6 engine with a hybrid motor, power is rated at 338bhp and 345Nm of torque. The GS350 is also powered by the 3.5-litre V6 engine but power is rated at 306bhp and 378Nm of torque. The entry level GS250 features a 2.5-litre V6 engine with 207bhp and 253Nm of torque.

 

You can expect acceleration times to impress as well and because Lexus are the leaders in hybrid technology, fuel consumption is expectedly low. Just for the record, the GS450h does the 100km sprint in just 5.9 seconds and sips just 5.9 litres of fuel on the combined cycle. The GS350 does it in 6.3 seconds but chugs down 10.2 litres of fuel.

 

 

But as the saying goes, power is nothing without control and Lexus has a few tricks up its sleeve. For starters the GS features four-wheel-steering, or in Lexus speak, it’s called Lexus Dynamic Handling System. Available exclusively to F Sport models only, the LDH uses an integration of various systems to provide the sharpest possible handling. It’s also designed to make life easier at low speeds, at below 80kmph the rear wheels turn in opposite directions to the front wheels to aid parking, and high speeds, the rear wheels turn at the same angle as the front to make high speed cornering easier and safer.

 

Lexus let us put this theory to test at a specially designed track laid out at an air field. Without the LDH, the GS simply oversteers out of corners and understeers into the sharper ones. The LDH monitors vehicle speed, steering direction and driver inputs then calculates the ideal wheel angles; the ultimate result is amazing.

 

 

You get a neutral feel in any corner and there’s no need to back off the throttle in the fast sweeping bends. You can feel the rear turn in to compliment the front and it’s only during overly eager corners do you sense the need to brake. It’s an amazing set up, it may feel a little fabricated but it’s definitely fun and very safe.

 

The new Lexus GS features much more than what I could fit in here. Its abilities are simply amazing and the confinements of a page do it no justice. From my short drive I can just say this, the new GS is a remarkable machine and very hard to fault. Pity though I can’t tell you to go buy it as the arms of production have just started this January. We’ll wait for a longer drive when it finally arrives on our shores.

 

Keshy Dhillon

 

In association with ON THE ROAD magazine

 


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