It’s wake-up time at Lexus. Toyota’s posh-car division has finally discovered that whisper-quiet motors, lashings of buttery leather and bulletproof quality aren’t the only things needed for world luxury car domination. Its cars have to look cool.
With the arrival of the new GS this spring, the unveiling of a bolder IS200 at Geneva next month and the stunning LF-A supercar concept seen at the recent Detroit show, Lexus is – at last – showing a new, edgier side to its designs
New from stem to stern, the GS rides on an all-new platform, has redesigned front and rear suspension, a new all-alloy 3.0-litre V6 in addition to the potent 4.3-litre V8, new six-speed transmissions, plus the option of all-wheel drive.
It’s also gone into techno-overload, with a mind-blowing array of computer-controlled systems. The new Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), for example, deals with everything from vehicle stability to the new electronic variable-gear steering to electronic brake assist, so it can anticipate a skid or slide and correct it. It even adjusts the steering to compensate for a gust of wind hitting the side of the car.
The new GS is pretty much the same size as the old car. There’s an extra 50mm added to the wheelbase for more rear seat space, and 25mm added to the width. And while the GS430 bulks up by an extra 30kg, the GS300, with its alloy V6, is 51kg lighter.
On the road, the 300bhp 4.3 V8 still gives the big GS plenty of performance. Lexus claims 0-60mph in 5.7sec – down from 5.8sec thanks to the new close-ratio six-speed ’box – and a restricted 149mph top speed. It’s still whisper-quiet all the way to the red line, and with 325lb ft, still offers plenty of gutsy, mid-range muscle.
More impressive is the V6, which will also appear in the next IS. It packs a healthy 245bhp (25bhp more than the old straight six) and coupled with that six-speed auto delivers 0-60mph in 6.8sec and a 143mph top speed.
Through the bends, the new GS feels more agile and responsive than before. There’s less body roll and more front-end bite. The new variable-ratio electric steering feels precise and well-weighted, though we’d prefer a bit more feedback and more on-centre feel.