LEXUS says it has changed.
While virtues like quality, reliability, unparalleled owner satisfaction, customer care, refinement and luxury remain, every model beginning with the all-new fourth-generation GS just released in Australia will add driving excitement to the mix, while the BMW 5 Series competitor also rights its predecessor’s wrongs with a roomier cabin and larger boot.
We’ve always liked the GS in any case, and the styling is certainly different, but we wonder if the Japanese have achieved their objectives with the latest iteration.
Model release date: April 2012
LEXUS’ third-generation luxury midsized sedan kept the styling cues and proportions of its well-received predecessor, but was a complete redesign inside and out.
The base GS300’s 183kW/310Nm 3.0-litre V6 petrol drove the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic sequential gearbox, and represented the mainstay of the range.
A 208kW/417Nm 4.3-litre V8 – shared with the LS flagship – was also offered, but that was overshadowed 218kW/368Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol/electric GS450h hybrid with a CVT transmission that eclipsed the others for performance while bringing palpably better fuel consumption.
A 2008 facelift brought minor changes to the series, with the GS430 making way for the 255kW/460Nm 4.6-litre V8 range-topper, boasting more equipment levels and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Unfortunately for Lexus, however, the GS was overlooked by most luxury midsized sedan buyers, on account of its tight rear legroom and smallish boot, which shrunk even more in the otherwise intriguing GS450h Hybrid version.
Sales slowed to a trickle, and almost led to Toyota in Japan pulling the plug on the GS series altogether.