1 Nov 1997
LEXUS’ assault on the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-class came in the form of the GS, a mid-sized four-door sedan.
Proving that Lexus was serious about rivalling the Germans, it developed the GS with rear-wheel drive and independent wishbone suspension all-round.
Motivation came courtesy of a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine with variable-valve timing offering 166kW of power and 298Nm of torque, and mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox.
All GS’ included dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, climate control air-conditioning, front-side airbags, traction control, alloy wheels, cruise control, remote central locking, and powered front seats.
From December 2000 a revised GS arrived with minor exterior and trim changes, a higher level of standard features and a sequential-shift function for the automatic gearbox.
Sadly we were denied the V8-engine GS 430 for this generation.
In fact Australia also missed the first-generation GS model all together, released in Japan as the Toyota Aristo in 1991.
And until the IS 200 arrived in early ’99 it was the sportiest Lexus available locally.
Sales were strong initially but a lack of new-model activity from Lexus and an avalanche of it from rivals resulted in the GS almost vanishing from luxury buyers’ minds – until the completely redesigned Mk3 GS arrived in early ’05.