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Car reviews - Lexus - GS - 200t

Our Opinion

We like
Night-and-day transformation to overall GS package, engine a perfect match
Room for improvement
Interior looks dated next to newer Lexus offerings

Gallery

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Lexus logo2 Dec 2015

By TIM ROBSON

A CAR doesn’t have to be far off the pace in the ultra-competitive Australian marketplace to find itself in sales no-man’s land, and the GS, in truth, finds itself languishing towards the bottom of its segment.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class, for example, outsells it almost ten to one, while the Maserati Ghibli has sold twice as many units to this point in 2015.

Initial launch reports criticised the entry level 2.5-litre V6/six-speed auto combination as being dated, something that Lexus has addressed with this comprehensive mid-life facelift.

The 200t supersedes the previous entry level GS250, and will be made available in two grades Luxury and F Sport.

The exterior treatment brings the car into line with its stablemates, and Lexus designers have done a great job in toning down the fussy front end and integrating the huge one-piece grille.

Inside, the changes are less obvious, but small tweaks – a new steering wheel and gear shifter and new clock arrangement – manage to give what is a conservative cabin a bit of a lift.

Under the bonnet, the 8AR-FTS 2.0-litre turbo four makes 180kW and 350Nm, and it’s teamed up with the handy eight-speed automatic we’ve seen filtering through many Lexus and Toyota products.

There have been a load of changes where you can’t see them, though, and it’s these tweaks that perhaps bring the biggest gains.

Body rigidity has been increased at a manufacturing level 188 additional spot welds, 22.5m more body adhesive and 132 extra laser screw welds have been added to the four-door.

New spring calibration, better dampers, a new front anti-rollbar and updated electric steering also feature. Lexus has also fitted the front end with what it calls a performance damper it’s basically a damped stiffening bar that ties the front rails together.

Even the front bar underside has been increased in length by 10mm to help with air flow under the car.

Over a very brief test loop on smooth, fast, well-cambered roads in Canberra, the GS200t is, well, eye-opening. The powertrain and the chassis are perfectly matched, with surprising response underfoot and a suitable crisp and smart response from the transmission.

Chassis behaviour is excellent, with a high-quality ride that doesn’t bow to an overly stiff springing arrangement, while steering feel is suitably feelsome for the type of car the GS is it’s not designed to chase sports cars, and it can be a little remote underhand, but it gets into corners very well.

And the silence. It’s so hard to believe that there is a four-cylinder turbo pulling almost two tonnes of car around under the bonnet. It’s serene, silent, with sufficient torque on hand to waft along at the highway limit with ease.

Noise intrusion is almost non-existent, wind rustle is almost entirely muted, tyre roar is absent… the Lexus GS200t is a very pleasant place to spend time.

On the downside, we’re not fans of the odd, fiddly, awkward trackpad multimedia controller arrangement, and designers will already be working on the next generation of GS to bring the interior styling in line with the new generation of Lexus product.

On the basis of our too-short drive, though, the new GS200t is worthy of consideration in its space. Pricing is reasonably competitive, too. Those tiring of the same German books may be wise to open the page on the GS.

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