14 October 2003

Lexus is trying to shake off its reputation for technically superb but dull cars – and it looks like it might be on to a winner if this first glimpse of the next GS is anything to go by.

The LF-S, standing for Lexus Future Sedan, captures a bolder style than the previously cautious designs of today’s IS, GS and LS saloons. The new grille treatment, prominent front badge and aggressively swept multi-lens headlamps, in particular, are said to feature on the next generation of road cars.

Sources in Japan say the show car, due to get its first public outing at next week’s Tokyo show, will heavily influence the new GS.

The all-new model is due on sale in Britain in 2005 and will be more sports-oriented than today’s car. Four-wheel drive will be available for the first time, too, and a choice of a 235bhp 3.3-litre V6 and 320bhp 4.3-litre V8 power will be offered. The first engine is borrowed from the RX off-roader, while the eight-pot is carried over from today’s GS430.

One of Lexus’s biggest problems in Europe is the lack of diesels. In the UK alone, sales have dropped by six per cent so far this year to 7519 – and that’s a tenth of what BMW sold in the first nine months of 2003.

However, Lexus is preparing its own range of large-capacity diesel engines and the first will be ready by 2006. ‘We could have dropped in an Avensis diesel engine, but didn’t feel it would have met the Lexus refinement and driving characteristics,’ said an official.

Autocar sources have confirmed that a new M5-fighter is in the pipeline. The hot GS is tipped to use a 360bhp 5.0-litre V8 and is due in 2006, around the same time as a petrol-electric version using the same technology as the Prius and forthcoming RX SUV hybrids.

Toyota and Lexus see hybrid power as the short-term solution to emissions problems.

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