The heavy hitters of the midsized sports sedan segment have even more to worry about come February 2012. The German stalwarts of the class will have to deal with the hard-punching, all-new 2013 Lexus GS Sport Sedan. As Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager, stated, “The new GS 350 combines luxury, outstanding driving dynamics and world-class technology features in a new and bold design”. The competition is already on notice.
The new 2013 Lexus GS will be offered in two guises: The GS 350 with standard rear-wheel drive, available all-wheel drive and a muscular gasoline V6 or the GS 450h, which employs Lexus Hybrid Drive for an astonishing balance of performance and efficiency.
The most powerful GS? That would be the GS 450h, which pairs a special 3.5-liter V6 with a two-motor hybrid system to produce 338 total system horsepower. An electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission handles the shifting. Impressive, no doubt, and even more impressive is the expectation that it will achieve fuel economy that’s a 30 percent improvement over the outgoing 2012 car. Expected EPA fuel economy estimates are 29 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined. Preliminary media test drives have already achieved fuel economy numbers over 30 mpg in all-around use.
As for the GS 350, its four-cam, 24-valve VVT-i 3.5-liter V6 delivers a healthy 306 hp through a six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission. It sends power to the rear wheels in the GS 350 or to all four corners as needed if drivers select the GS 350 AWD. Both cars offer “Normal,” “Eco,” “Sport S” and “Sport S+” driving modes with the GS 450h adding an “EV” mode to the mix for electric-only driving as the conditions allow. Drivers seeking the purest expression of performance in the GS will want to look at the Lexus GS 350 F Sport Package, which upgrades the tires, suspension, brakes, steering ratio and interior trimmings. In addition, aggressive bodywork modifications signal the car’s sporting intent to all onlookers.
Regardless of which drivetrain you pick, the new GS is quick. Only 5.6 seconds to 60 mph for the hybrid, and 5.7 for the GS 350.
In addition to a complete overhaul of the exterior, which drew inspiration from the Lexus LFA super car, the GS is now more aerodynamic with a wider stance and stiffer structure. A new suspension system is also in place, resulting in enhanced control and improved drivability. The new Lexus GS also ups the ante for interior finish and equipment. The cockpit is driver-focused and outfitted with contrast-stitched leather and wood accents, and the GS 450h Hybrid gets an exclusive bamboo-finished steering wheel.
The car’s traditional analog clock is carved from a single ingot and has LED indicators. White LEDs provide ambient cabin illumination. The centerpiece of the cockpit is the available and gigantic 12.3-inch high-resolution media display. The split-screen unit serves as the primary interface for the navigation system and other Lexus Enform® features, which include Bing local search, OpenTable restaurant reservations, MovieTickets.com ordering, Pandora Internet Radio, iHeartRadio, Facebook and Yelp. The system also will read the driver SMS text messages, and it provides the ability to respond with pre-programmed replies while driving. An 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is available as well.
In addition to a best in class 10 standard airbags, the new GS uses new Whiplash Injury Lessening seats and offers useful available features such as a Night Vision System, Head-Up Display, Blind Spot Monitor and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning.
A winner waits in the wings
The 2013 Lexus GS is agile, yet highly efficient with all the style and amenities drivers and passengers expect from Lexus. When the all-new Lexus GS arrives in 2012, the rest of the segment will be facing a whole new level of competition.