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Driven: Lexus updates entry level GS

Fast entry: The new GS200t adds torque, power and performance to the bottom of Lexus’s slow-selling GS range.

First four-cylinder Lexus GS since 1997 set to spark up the mid-size sedan

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Lexus logo4 Dec 2015

By TIM ROBSON

LEXUS has ditched the 2.5-litre V6 entry level GS sedan for the new darling of its powertrain family, the 8AR-FTS 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

It has also updated its gearbox, adding an eight-speed automatic transmission in the place of a six-speeder.

“The GS is already an excellent platform, and the turbo engine will really compliment it,” said Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley.

The new 180kW/350Nm powertrain nets a 38 per cent gain in torque and a 17 power increase over the old engine.

Lexus has also significantly retooled the body of the car, and not just on the outside, where the huge spindle grille dominates.

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 taken the opportunity to make some changes to the GS line-up as a part of the mid-life facelift, with the GS300h Sports Luxury dropped, while prices for the hybrid-powered variant in Luxury and F Sport guise have increased by $3000 apiece to $78,000 and $86,000 respectively.

The GS350 F Sport has dropped by $1210 and the Sport Luxury is down by $1610, while prices for the 450h F Sport and Sports Luxury have dropped by $2000 each.

Starting at $75,000 plus on-road costs, the GS200t Luxury has 10-way power front seats with driver memory, eight-speed automatic transmission, 12-speaker audio system, third-generation Lexus Remote Touch Controller, eight-inch navigation display screen, three mode drive mode select, digital radio tuner (DAB+) and an electronic park brake as standard.

It also comes with tyre pressure monitors, heated and ventilated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, automatic heated exterior mirrors with memory, smart entry and start with smart key card, LED headlights with automatic high beam, LED daytime running lamps, active cruise control and back guide monitor.

Blind-spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist, pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking, leather-accented seats, and leather-accented steering wheel and gear shifter are also fitted.

One enhancement pack is available for the GS200t Luxury, which costs $4500 and includes a moonroof and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The GS200t F Sport kicks off at $83,000 and adds a five-mode drive mode select dial, aluminium cabin trim, Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), high friction front brake pads, 18-way power driver's seat with memory, 10-way power passenger's seat, electric rear sunshade, F Sport front seats, 19-inch F Sport alloy wheels and F Sport pedals.

LED headlights with adaptive high beam, F Sport steering wheel and gear shifter, and F Sport bumper, grille and rear bumper are also included.

A 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, 12.3-inch multimedia display and Head-up Display (HUD) is available for an additional $4500, while a moonroof is an extra $2500.

The GS goes up against the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class but is outgunned by all of them, selling just 117 this year to the end of November, against the category-leading 1153 sales of the E-Class. The GS’s sales are off by 50 per cent year on year.

2015 Lexus GS pricing*
200t Luxury (a)$75,000
200t F Sport (a)$83,000
300h Luxury (a)$78,000
300h F Luxury (a)$86,000
350 F Sport (a)$94,400
350 Sport Luxury (a)$105,500
450h F Sport (a)$106,000
450h Sports Luxury (a)$117,500
*Excludes on-road costs

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