We've had the opportiunity to drive a few different versions of the new Lexus GS. The hybrid version is different, but still very good. Have a look at our review.
Entries in 2013 Lexus GS (4)
At the end of 2011, we went out to Las Vegas for an early drive of the all new Lexus GS. Lexus is resetting the GS as a performance sedan ready to take on the Mercedes E Class, BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6. How well does the GS stack up? Jump into the review and find out. The link to our original review is below.
Over the last 18 months, Lexus has updated most of their entire lineup, with the exception of their flagship car the LS. Now, as we close out 2012, Lexus is ready to reveal the update to their flagship luxury sedan.
While the 2013 LS is a midcycle refresh, over half of the parts involved in building this car are completely new. There is a substantial rework of the exterior, which features Lexus’ signature spindle grill up front along with significant sculpturing throughout the body from nose to tail to greatly reduce aerodynamic drag.
In a market segment that puts a premium on perfection the new LS is positioning itself to once again be the standard by which others are measured. Not only is the exterior refreshed, the interior gets a complete makeover as well. The design concept 1st seen in the interior of the new GS is now brought in to the flagship LS sedan. One of the features of the interior is the 12.3 inch center display which can be organized into 3 different columns of information.
Interior materials also get an upgrade including a unique wood trim called Shimamocu. This unique wood trim takes 38 days and 67 different processes to complete. It has a horizontal grain pattern which helps to emphasize the with an interior space of the LS. If you choose to go with the hybrid version of the LS you can choose the bamboo wood option which gives a very nice look and feel to the interior.
Something else that is also unique in the LS is the analog clock in the center of the dash is linked via GPS to automatically update times, even when crossing into different time zones. So, let’s say you’re driving from Detroit to Chicago, where you go from the Eastern time zone to the central time zone, the clock will automatically update to the local time.
There will be several trim levels available in the LS, including the ultra-lux package which will have 4 different climate zone controls. All cars, 16 way power driver seat,” way adjustable passenger seats. Opt for the 600 L, or 460 L, and you will have rear seat that will recline, as an ottoman, and also massage functionality. It truly is an “Executive” sedan. The driver and passenger seats also have a unique climate control system integrated into them the seats sense body temperature and bring the temperature of the seats to the desired temperature, until the rest of the cabin can reach that temperature.
Depending on which trim level you get, the LS can have a sportier feel, but the emphasis of the LS has been, and always will be, that of late luxury sedan. As such, the emphasis is on a quiet interior and a smooth and comfortable yet very controlled ride. The LS will never be a Canyon Carver, but on tight twisty roads it can hold its own.
Powertrains are a carryover, a 4.6 L V-8 with 386 hp combined with an 8 speed automatic transmission will be standard. Elect for the hybrid version and you have a combined power rating of 438 hp between the gasoline motor and electric motor. The hybrid model also gets a redesign regenerative braking system which aids in recharging the batteries much quicker and more efficiently.
Available for the first time in the LS is the F-Sport trim. With the F-Sport you will get a deeper drill with other aero treatments, cooling ducts for the brakes, suspension lowered 10mm, Alcantera headliners, larger side bolsters in the seats,, paddle shifters and a Torsen limited slip differential.
You also get 19” BBS wheels that are unique to the F-Sport along with massive six piston Brembo brakes.
Pricing will be announced at the end of October and the LS’s will begin to go on sale in November.
When Lexus first brought the GS to market it was targeted as the “sporty sedan” where the LS was the “luxury sedan”, but somewhere along road, the GS became soft, and the idea of it be comparable to a BMW 5 Series was tossed aside. With the latest iteration of the GS, Lexus are looking to change that conversation.
Right off the bat, Lexus are saying that they had the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class directly in their crosshairs as they developed the new GS. A part of going after the Germans with the GS is the debut of the new Lexus design language in the front end. Like it, love it, or hate it, get used to it, because this IS the new face of Lexus.
Part of philosophy with the new GS was set forth by Akio Toyoda himself when he said this car must have emotion in the styling, and emotion in the driving. He wanted the car to be able to stand out, and stand on it’s own, not just blend into the background. It is this point of view which Lexus believe that they will be able to achieve a 50% conquest rate with new buyers to the Lexus GS.
There will be three distinct versions of the GS, a Luxury, a Hybrid, and the F-Sport. We will focus on the Hybrid first. The idea with the Hybrid was more a focus on “Performance Hybrid” rather than “Economy Hybrid”. Think of the Hybrid as a V8 replacement, rather than say the CT200h which is focused on economy. The Hybrid is also the only GS model that will have LED headlamps available.
The Luxury level is firmly targeted at the E-Class Mercedes. The ride is tuned a little softer, there will be a special leather used, a three zone climate control system (two front, one back), 18 way power adjust seats and the driving dynamics are focused on a well controlled ride, rather than a “plush” ride.
The F-Sport is exactly what you’d think it would be. It is going after the 5 Series BMW and M-Sport trimmed 5 Series (not M5) with is multi level suspension settings, active rear steering, and electronic engine and steering controls that greatly sharpen everything when you go into Sport and Sport+ modes.
Power for the GS will be a 3.5 liter V6 that features both Direct Injection and Port Injection, it will provide 306 horsepower and 277 torques, backed up by a six speed automatic transmission. When asked why a six speed automatic and not an eight speed auto which has become de rigueur in the last twelve months, Lexus responded, that they did not believe they could get the driving dynamics they wanted with an eight speed. They felt it would “always be hunting for the right gear”.
The Hybrid also uses the 3.5 liter V6 but converts it to an Atkinson Cycle engine, very common for hybrids, and couples it with a an electric motor to give it a combined power rating of 338 horsepower. The reason for an Atkinson Cycle engine is that it is 35% more efficient and with the Hybrid system, it will return over 30MPG in the EPA combined cycle. Though Lexus did not have the final EPA numbers at this press intro, they were very confident of the number.
Lexus have also worked on the packaging of the batteries for the Hybrid system, allowing a much larger trunk for the GS then in the previous generation. There is some intrusion in space over the non-Hybrid versions of the GS, but it is far less then before.
There was also a focus on aero and NVH tuning so as to make the Hybrid a quiet as possible when driving on the highways.
The quality of materials in the two cars we spent time with at the launch, the F-Sport and the Hybrid were excellent. We really like the way the Hybrid was trimmed out with a bamboo trim that felt very substantial. Most wood trim on cars today is little more then a very thin vernier, in the Lexus it looked and felt more like solid chucks of wood. This was most apparent in the steering wheel. Again, most wood trimmed wheels have an almost a plastic feel to them, with the GS it felt as though it was a sold piece of bamboo that you were holding on to.
We also drove the Hybrid on the short and tight infield road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and it did not disappoint. The car felt very composed around the track which contained both long sweeping corners and areas that put an emphasis on quick changes of direction. While not a car that you are going to take out for lapping day at the track, it will feel very competent on twisty back roads should you choose to drive in a spirited manner.
The F-Sport is a bit of a revelation. Driven back to back with a BMW 5 Series that was available for comparison around the race track, the GS was every bit as good, and in many ways BETTER then the BMW. While the steering may not have felt quite as connected as the BMW, it was much more direct, and the GS had much less body roll!
There is a noticeable change in the manor of ride, handling and throttle responsiveness with the different settings that are available. In “normal” modes the F-Sport is more compliant, but as soon as you dial up either Sport or Sport+, things change for the better.
This does not mean that out on the open road the ride is harsh. We took the F-Sport for a 30+ mile loop which included highway runs and surface streets. On the day we were driving the GS, it also included 50+ MPH cross winds on the highway. Lets touch on this last part first. Number one, there was no way the car was not going to be moving around with winds that strong, however, there were no abrupt movements it felt more like a gentle push. In contrast you could see the Semi-trucks on the road moving around quite a bit. In addition the cabin remained very quiet. You did not hear the sounds of the strong winds making it into the cabin, so Lexus should be commended for their work in the wind tunnel to make these thing possible.
Driving in Sport+ on the highway the ride felt firm and controlled without a hint of harshness. If you enjoy more of the European firm and sporty ride, then you will enjoy this setting. Set in standard mode, it smooths things out just a bit, and may be the better call if you have to drive on roads that aren’t in the best of shape.
Also out on the road we got to crank up the 830 watt Mark Levinson stereo system and tried it with some high quality music that we brought along. If we have one gripe with the Levinson audio systems that Lexus use it’s that they lack a bit of bass. We are not talking about obnoxious bass that you associate with too loud systems blasting hip hop, it’s more not hearing and feeling kick drums, bass guitar, or in the case of Jazz and Classical music, stand up bass or Cello missing power, feeling and emotion from the music. That is purely a personal take on our part, but it’s something we noticed.
Out on the road we cranked up a little Allman Brothers Live At The Fillmore and lets just say, if you aren’t paying attention, you will be in triple digit speeds without knowing it. In the middle of “Whipping Post” we looked down at to see the speedometer touching three digits and immediately got off the gas, even though it felt as we weren’t doing much over 70 on the freeway with a 75MPH limit.
On the inside of the car one thing that dominates the dash is the massive 12.3” LCD display. Lexus have cleverly designed it so that it can be one large screen, or it can be broken up into three smaller ones if say you want audio information, an overall GPS man plus turn by turn directions all at the same time.
There has also been a large upgrade to the quality of feel in the mouse interface. The new changes make it much more direct, and there is better haptic feedback as you get close to menu items.
Also included is the Lexus Enform system. It will start with apps such as Facebook, Yelp, Pandora, MovieTix, iHeart Radio, bing and Open Table to start. You will download the apps onto your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry, and then connect via USB to the car. Enform will use your phones data plan to connect with the cloud and provide you with all the information, the Lexus Enform system in the car provides an nice interface in which to interact with it.
Overall we came away very impressed with the GS, and a quick informal poll of those in our wave for the drive and those who had just finished, were pretty much in agreement that if Lexus can get the word out on this car as it comes to market in mid February, it should have a hit on it’s hands. The GS will come a surprise to many who view Lexus’ as nothing more than Sub Zero refrigerators, they are very nice refrigerators, but at the end of the day they are refrigerators. The GS is likely to change that perception, and we look forward to having a chance to spend more time with the car in the near future.