First Drive: 2013 Lexus GSPosted on December 2nd, 2011
Mid-luxury sport sedans get a fresh dose of attitude
By Nina Russin
The Lexus GS sport sedans undergo a complete make-over for 2013, beginning with three gas-powered variants that roll out in February, followed by new hybrid models. Lexus product planners hope that the fourth generation car, with revised styling, more interior space and enhanced performance will conquest fifty percent of buyers from its competitors, including the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. That bold statement is indicative of renewed confidence, following several months of uncertainty due to last summer’s devastating tsunami in Japan.
Gasoline models roll out first, powered by a direct injection V-6 engine rated at 306 horsepower, with 277 foot-pounds of torque and six-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid sedans which follow combine 286 horsepower Atkinson cycle V-6 engines, electric motors two-stage automatic transmissions. Net horsepower is 338: on par with a 4.5-liter V-8 engine.
GS 350 buyers can choose between base (premium), luxury and F Sport grades. The premium grade model comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, ten-way power seats, bi-xenon headlamps, leather upholstery, keyless access and start. The upscale luxury grade gets 18-inch wheels, adaptive front headlamps, tri-zone climate control and semi-aniline leather seating.
An adaptive variable suspension, standard on F Sport models, automatically adjusts shock damping according to road conditions. The driver can chose between normal and sport mode, which makes the shock damping more compliant for everyday driving, or stiffer for high-speed control. Lexus’ proprietary dynamic handling technology adjusts wheel camber and caster to minimize the effect of oversteer. The performance grade also gets nineteen-inch alloy rims with summer tires, a unique grille and special front and rear bumpers.
Available all-wheel drive enhances wet weather performance by transferring power to the wheels with the best traction. The normal 30/70 power balance can change to 50/50 if the rear wheels start to spin out.
Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 5.7 seconds for the rear-wheel drive model according to the manufacturer; six seconds for the all-wheel drive model. Average fuel economy is about 28 miles-per-gallon for the gasoline cars and just over 30 mpg for the hybrids. All-wheel drive models lose about two miles-per-gallon on the highway. Because the engines have extremely high compression ratios, both the gasoline and hybrid cars require 91 octane gasoline.
Test drive in Las Vegas
I had an opportunity to sample the new GS models’ performance at a recent media event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Performance and autocross courses enabled journalists to compare a luxury GS, F Sport and hybrid model’s ride and handling. We also had the opportunity to take prototypes on a short road course, to replicate everyday driving conditions.
Across the board, the new GS models are more powerful than the outgoing cars, with better steering feedback, enhanced throttle response and vastly evolved suspensions. Although gasoline powered grades have similar curb weights to the outgoing cars, the direct injection engine, stiffer chassis and refined aerodynamics under the chassis make the 2013 models feel lighter and more athletic.
The adaptive variable suspension on the sport model keeps the chassis flat and in control under the most challenging conditions. Taking the car through a course which simulated emergency lane changes, chicanes, wide sweeping and decreasing radius turns, it was possible to maintain control with very little braking.
Although the hybrid model feels heavy compared to the gasoline cars, it’s a vast improvement over the model it replaces. While the first GS hybrid had ample power, its mass made the sedan difficult to control on winding roads. The 2013 hybrids give drivers the ability to conserve gasoline on the daily commute, while offering an enjoyable experience on rural two-lane roads.
Engineers gave the electric power steering systems, standard across the GS lineup, response similar to hydraulic systems. The fully-independent suspension consists of a double wishbone setup in front and multi-link design in the rear. Engineers relocated the springs on the rear axle to increase trunk space.
Large ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels stop the car on a dime. Engineers enhanced airflow around the front rotors to reduce fade under demanding conditions.
Roomier interior with enhanced infotainment features
Although the 2013 GS sedans are the same length as the outgoing models, they’re significantly wider to give both rows of passengers more hip room. Interiors convey the sense of luxury Lexus is known for, with standard leather seating, Bluetooth interface, and a 5.1 surround sound audio system, but the 2013 models feel sportier and more contemporary on the inside than the cars they replace.
A redesigned steering wheel is thicker and thinner in key areas, making it more comfortable to hold on extended drives. Hybrid models feature attractive bamboo wood accents on the steering wheels. A new “momentary” turn signal feature makes the signal lights blink three times and then stop, if the driver touches the control lightly. The idea is to prevent the turn signal from staying on after a driver changes lanes.
A new generation of Lexus Enform telematics gives passengers access to Bing, iHeart Radio, Yelp, Open Table, Movie Tickets, Facebook check-in and Pandora. Designers revised the mouse device on the center console, making it smaller and easier to use.
All of the features use the cloud and iPhone or Droid apps to work. The vehicle simply functions as a receiver. The advantage of the setup is that owners can easily download software updates using their phones.
The Bing search engine enables the driver to search for points of interest using voice commands. iHeart Radio searches Clear Channel radio stations by city, while Pandora searches music according to the passenger’s genre preferences. Passengers can make dinner reservations using Open Table, or buy movie tickets from the car. Yelp offers consumer reviews of products.
All GS models come with ten standard airbags: front, side, side impact, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee protection. Vehicle Integrated Dynamic Management seamlessly combines the functions of antilock brakes, stability and traction control in a manner which is invisible to the driver.
A standard rear backup camera displays a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse. Rear park assist warns the driver with audible signals if he comes close to an obstacle in back of the car.
Tire pressure monitoring now includes a locator feature which shows which tire is low on pressure.
Lexus Enform is a vehicle locator which can automatically notify the police and emergency medical personnel if the car is involved in a serious collision.
New available safety features for the Lexus GS include blind sport monitoring, lane keep assist and night vision assist.
Lexus will announce pricing for the 2013 GS models closer to rollout.
Likes: The new Lexus GS models are sportier, with better steering feedback, ride and handling than the cars they replace. The F Sport variant can easily toe the line with the best sports sedans Europe has to offer, with exceptional performance on challenging roads.
Models: GS 350, GS 350 F Sport, GS 450h
Base price: N/A
As tested: N/A
Horsepower: 306 Hp @ 6400 rpm (GS 350); 286 Hp @ 6000 rpm (GS 450h)
Torque: 277 lbs.-ft @ 4800 rpm (GS 350); 254 lbs.-ft. @ 4600 rpm (GS 450h)
Zero-to-sixty: 5.7 seconds (GS 350).
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg (GS 350 RWD); 29/34 mpg (GS 450h)
2 responses to “First Drive: 2013 Lexus GS”
Looks like Time Axis had best time retuning GS models; the upcoming GS F-Sport has got a menacing look. It has become more cool and looks like a touring car.
Hey dude. what kind of wordpress theme are you using? i want it to use on my blog too,
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