Lexus GS


Debut: 2011
Maker: Toyota
Predecessor: Lexus GS (2005)



 Published on 25 Jan 2012
All rights reserved. 

20 years ago Toyota created Aristo / Lexus GS to challenge Mercedes E-class and BMW 5-Series in the executive cars segment. Like many Japanese cars born in that era, it was an impressive first attempt, with good looks, fine performance and advanced technology to make the German worrying. However, contrary to our prediction, the GS line never quite matched the success of its German rivals in the following years. Not only it failed to challenge the established German machines, it slipped behind the fast-rising Audi A6 and is now struggling to keep up with Jaguar XF and Infiniti M. What's wrong with it?

Forgive me for reserving my opinion until the end of this article. Let us see Toyota's viewpoint first: the outgoing GS was comfortable and refined, but it lacks driver appeal to please the trend of this segment, which is increasingly biased towards the sporty side. Therefore, for the fourth generation GS, Toyota injected a lot more spicy flavors. Here you can see a twist of the "L-finesse" styling theme with Chris Bangle-style assaultive and unsettling approach. The harmony of the old car has gone, replaced with some razor-sharp blades and heavily twisted surfaces which challenge the limits of your taste. More adventurous might be, it is not to be confused with beauty.


The philosophy of chassis tuning has also been shifted to the sporty side. Drive the car, you will immediately realize the electrical power steering has gained weight as well as response, if not exactly road feel. The car is more eager to steer thus it feels lighter on its feet. You can still get a smooth and quiet ride for regular day-to-day trip, but in case you are in mood to have some excitement, now you have the option to select Sport or Sport+ mode (beside Eco and Normal) like those European rivals. In this way you will get sportier throttle, steering, damping and stability control. Existing owners of the GS will be surprised by its new found agility and sharpness, especially if the car is optioned with 4-wheel steering. If not enough, there is the F Sport package which brings even sportier suspension tuning, larger brakes and unusually wide rubbers measuring 265/35R19. Admittedly, those absurd rear tires rob it the ability to oversteer like a good BMW 5-Series. When it does oversteer, it comes abruptly thus is nowhere as accessible as the BMW. This prevents it from challenging the latter as a driver's car. However, we have to say few buyers might care about this issue, as the majority are unlikely to play oversteer on public roads.

As before, the GS sits on the same platform as its Japanese sister Toyota Crown (as well as Mark X). Most of the sophisticated technologies are shared, such as the AVS adaptive damping, TFT LCD instrument reading, infrared Night Vision, Pre-Crash safety system, driver drowsiness monitor and head-up display. They also share the double-wishbones and multi-link suspensions, electrical power steering, multi-plate clutch 4WD (beside the standard RWD version) and all powertrains. Most of these are lightly adapted from the last generation. For example, the front suspensions featured more aluminum components to cut unsprung weight. The rear suspensions have their springs and dampers separated to reduce intrusion to the boot.


The powertrain is relatively disappointing. Now the powerful 4.6-liter V8 has been dropped because of poor sales and the rise of environmental consciousness. Entering the scene is an entry level 2.5-liter direct-injected V6 with 210 hp and 187 lbft. It is not gusty enough to haul the 1.7-ton car, so our pick of the range is still the carried over 3.5-liter DI V6 with 306hp and 277lbft. Although it is not as flexible as the forced induction BMW 535i or Audi A6 3.0TFSI, its top end power and its progressive manner are still appreciable. 0-60 mph can be done in a respectable 5.7 seconds. Unfortunately, its partner remains to be that outdated 6-speed automatic, which lacks the response and precision of its 7 or 8-speed rivals. Just wonder why it does not adopt the 8-speeder from LS460, because that would have given the old motor a new lease of life.

Because of the demise of V8, now GS450h hybrid takes the role of the flagship model. As before, it comprises of the 3.5-liter V6 and a pair of permanent magnet electric motors (one for propulsion and another for regeneration) and produces a combined 338hp. There is some refinement to the system to make it more efficient. For example, the V6 now runs in Atkinson cycle like other Toyota hybrid motors. The cooling to power electronics has been improved. The battery pack is now vertically positioned behind the cabin to increase luggage space. The regenerative braking now operates across a wider range. All help the hybrid car to boost its EPA mileage from 22 to 29 mpg in city and 25 to 34 mpg on highway. Nevertheless, the GS450h is still hardly a recommendable choice. Carrying 160kg more than GS350, its handling suffers a little and its acceleration is no faster than the lesser model. The rubberband effect of its CVT and the mushy brake pedal feel – typical to hybrid cars – rob it some driving pleasure. Moreover, it is more expensive than a BMW 535d, which offers better performance and handling yet easily matches the Lexus for emission (142g/km vs 137g/km) and fuel consumption (52.3 mpg vs 47.9 mpg in EU combined cycle). It's no brainer to choose the BMW.


Admittedly, the Lexus is better equipped than its German rivals. Its interior is very well made, with plenty of rich materials and classy features, such as bamboo trim and a 12.3-inch sat-nav screen – said to be the largest in production cars, at least until the arrival of Tesla Model S with its 17-inch item. On the downside, the interior styling is a bit boring and the space it offered is barely average. Unlike the early Lexus, it has not set any new standards on cabin quietness and refinement. Now its German rivals are on a par with it.

Despite of the enhanced driver appeal, the new GS is not going to be a class leader. It lacks the all-round appeal of BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-class, the performance edge of Infiniti M56 and the romance of Jaguar XF. That brings us back to the question: why does it fail to raise its game? I suppose because Toyota Crown and Mark X stretch its development budget thin. If Toyota could consolidate the three into one, just like what Nissan did to Cedric, Gloria and Infiniti M, it might be able to afford new engines, transmission and some new technologies to better its oppositions. Of course, that decision would not be easy. The Crown has strong customer base in Japan thus it is not to be abandoned. Neither the Lexus can be abandoned, as Toyota has invested enormous money to build the brand overseas. In my opinion, the best solution is to kill the Mark X and combine Crown and GS into a single model while keep using their existing names for different markets. Only in this way there will be hope for beating the European.
Verdict:
 Published on 17 Oct 2015
All rights reserved. 
GS F


Long story short, Lexus GS F is essentially a GS transplanted with the powertrain and chassis upgrades of RC F. This means the engine is a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8, a rarity in today's market. It produces 467 hp (SAE) or 477 hp (DIN) at a rather high 7100 rpm, enabling the performance sedan to quote 0-60 mph at 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph. Toyota's in-house 8-speed automatic hooks up to an active differential (also borrowed from RC F) and drives the rear wheels. The suspensions are stiffened (as is the monocoque chassis) but, strangely, they forgo the adaptive dampers of lesser GS models and rely on passive Sachs dampers. Likewise, the active rear-wheel steering hardware is ditched to make development simpler. Larger Brembo brakes are used, while the footgear gets the necessary upgrade. In short, all the modifications are conventional and predictable.

As GS F is so conventional, it is neither as fast nor as versatile as its rivals. All of its rivals now employ turbo or supercharged V8s with the north of 550 hp and double the torque at mid-range rev. Some also fitted with 4WD and good for 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Although 4.5 seconds would have been seen as top of the class a decade ago, today it is hopelessly slow. The lack of low-down torque amplifies this feeling in the real world, as the Toyota V8 needs rev to wake up. Even at the torque peak of 5000 rpm it does not feel as punchy as its rivals, just as the 389 lbft of torque suggested. For comparison, a Mercedes E63 AMG has 590 lbft from as low as 2000 rpm.

Because of the naturally aspirated V8, what Lexus can sell is the classic feel. Yes, I admit it is enjoyable to stretch a V8 to 7300 rpm, something all its contemporary rivals miss. The linear power delivery and the resultant connection between man and machine is good. However, if we love the old-fashioned fun, why not get a used E60 M5? The 5-liter V10 of that car revs even higher (some 1000 rpm higher than the Lexus!) and delivers more horsepower, too. Moreover, its race-car-like exhaust note is several leagues more exciting than the subdued sound of Lexus V8. If Lexus was really keen to please hardcore drivers, I think it should have put the LFA's V10 into this car, because that could have created a really characterful machine.

As it is not, the GS F is set to be a compromise. Not just engine, compromises can be found in other areas. Its 8-speed automatic gearbox is slow in manual mode and sometimes inconsistent in auto mode, not worth a place in the sports sedan market. The car's handling is okay, but the passive suspension rides firmly and prefers flat roads. The steering is mostly acceptable, but you won't remember it for communication, unlike the rack of Cadillac or Jaguar. And that mouth! or the so-called "Spindle grille", which proves that ugly is a way to show unique taste. You would buy this car only if you dislike E63, M5, CTS-V, RS6 or just about anything else in the class. Incredibly, Lexus believes
every year there will be 2000 such people in the US market alone to buy this car. I can only say good luck.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine

Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
GS350 F-Sport
2011
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4845 / 1840 / 1455 mm
2850 mm
V6, 60-degree

3456 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI
306 hp
277 lbft
6-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 235/40R19
R: 265/35R19
1720 kg
155 mph (c)
5.7 (c) / 5.5* / 5.5**
13.6* / 13.2**
GS450h
2011
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4845 / 1840 / 1455 mm
2850 mm
V6, 60-degree, Atkinson cycle, electric motors
3456 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT
-
DI
286 hp + 52 hp = 338 hp
engine: 254 lbft
CVT
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
235/45R18

1880 kg
155 mph (c)
5.6 (c) / 5.7* / 6.0***
13.6* / 14.0***
GS F
2015
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4915 / 1845 / 1440 mm
2850 mm
V8, 90-degree

4969 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
VIM
DI
467 hp / 7100 rpm
389 lbft / 4800-5600 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
-
F: 255/35ZR19
R: 275/35ZR19
1830 kg
168 mph (c)
4.5 (c) / 4.4* / 4.4*** / 4.7****
10.3* / 10.3*** / 10.5****




Performance tested by: *C&D, **R&T, ***MT, ****Wheels





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
GS200t
2015
Front-engined, RWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4845 / 1840 / 1455 mm
2850 mm
Inline-4
1998 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
245 hp
258 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: double-wishbone
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
235/45R18
1745 kg
143 mph (c)
6.9 (c) / 6.6*
16.7*


















































Performance tested by: *C&D





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GS F



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