Making its first local appearance in 1997, the original Lexus GS300 filled a crucial gap between the “Camryesque” ES300 and top of the line LS400. Aiming to attract sales from the established Europeans – in particular BMW’s 5 series, the Japanese contender certainly created a few ripples. Now an all new model takes up the challenge. Unlike its predecessor, buyers will have two engine choices – a direct injection 3.0 litre V6 or 4.3 litre V8. The newcomer’s style should certainly turn a few heads – part of Lexus’ plan to appeal to a younger demographic. Looking more coupe than sedan, the GS series is best described as aggressively elegant. Its low, sweeping roofline and long wheelbase creating a powerful first impression.
Of course there is an extensive range of standard equipment on the Sport Luxury models tested, including: dual zone air- conditioning, intelligent cruise control, “Smart key” central locking, leather upholstery, power front seats with climate control, power windows, alloy wheels, six disc CD player, 14 speaker sound system, power glass sunroof, rain sensing wipers and satellite navigation. While there are no extras for the Sport Luxury variants; “entry level” GS300 buyers can option a $2,500 power sunroof.
DESIGN & FUNCTION
SPACE & PRACTICALITY
With its low roofline and high waisted look you might expect the GS’ interior space to be compromised, but this isn’t the case. Room up front is generous, even though the high, deep dashboard and wide centre console wrap around you. In the rear most passengers should be happy with the available head and shoulder space, but legroom might be compromised behind a tall driver. Storing items shouldn’t be an issue, with most knick knacks finding a home in the centre console box and door pockets. Although luggage space is excellent, access to it is through a shallow “letter box” style opening – a compromise of the fastback styling. The rear seats are fixed, so longer items will need to poke through the lockable ski hatch. Mounted under the boot floor is a full size spare tyre on an alloy rim. If you need to change a tyre there’s no need to get dirty, a valet pack with gloves, soap and embroidered handtowel is standard. Another nice thought is a tin of touch up paint – remember those!
At this end of the market you expect to be cosseted, and the Lexus’ climate controlled power seats do a good job. More sports style than limousine like, they are comfortable with good lateral support. A total of six settings provide heating or cooling – the latter very effective over a long trip. The steering wheel is power adjustable for rake and reach, moving away from the driver when the ignition is off. Passengers in the rear aren’t neglected; the seat is well shaped and supportive, but only meant for two.