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Lexus GS 460 2008 Review

The Lexus is probably most at home on leafy avenues and in private school car parks, but still performs on the racetrack.

And one could say the same about removing a $134,900 luxury car from the comfort of North Shore roads or the stretching highways in-between weekend getaways and relocating it to, of all places, a race track.

But last week I hit Eastern Creek Raceway in the graceful new Lexus GS 460, as the first Australian journo to drive one.

And I was pleasantly surprised to find it quickly adapted to what initially seemed to be a foreign setting. Underneath the cover of elegance and prestige, otherwise known as the body, sits a refined 4.6-litre V8. The 460 supersedes the previous GS 430, adding an extra 300 cubic centimetres to the mix. This means the face-lifted GS is able to extract an extra 47kW and 43Nm of torque from the engine, with a textbook impressive 255kW of power and 460Nm of torque.

The figures alone are enough to get you reasonably excited meeting those V8 performance expectations. But with its quiet nature and more conservative appearance, I didn't expect it to be as poised and enjoyable as it proved to be.

On arrival at the track, I quickly donned a helmet and jumped in the passenger seat as my instructor for the day, four-times Australian champion and racing veteran of 20 years, John Bowe, showed me the ins and outs of the track.

From the passenger seat, it was a smooth ride all the way as Bowe threw it quickly into the corners and hit even quicker speeds on the straight. Then it came my turn to play. Planting my foot showed the acceleration was quick to react, its official zero to 100km/h time reading 5.8 seconds. Hitting the straight, and with some encouragement from my co-pilot, it wasn't long before I was up to 200km/h, the GS 460 reacting in a controlled but thrilling way.

The well-mannered Lexus followed demands into each turn and came out of them without a hitch — very agile around the bends. Most of the power hits at 6400rpm and it doesn't take long for the revs to rise.

Looking at the car, and even when gliding around the track, it's easy to imagine the soundtrack for this model would be something like Beethoven, with the occasional Metallica riff thrown in just to remind you it knows how to release its inner devil.

After a few laps, I strangely noticed a cold breeze coming through my jeans from the seat.

A little concerned, I quickly enquired as to what the problem was, only to be told that as well as the heating you expect in such cars, it also has a “cooling function.”

So with my legs at a comfortable temperature, my back and rear-end cushioned with the sophisticated suspension and a new eight-speed auto transmission giving a wide spread of ratios, the luxury sedan did its best to show off its sporting character.

With stability control switched on, it was put to work on some corners, although it was in no way intrusive, while quick to correct your line and keep you on the straight and narrow.

There are paddles on the steering wheel for the real racing enthusiast but the auto mode worked just as well. The GS 460, along with the other models in the range, gets some new styling cues as well as the updated engine, giving it a more aggressive stance. It has a new grille, a lower air intake and the front and rear bumper bars have had some work. It's not a big change, but enough to give it some added style.

The mirrors and door handles get the treatment, and the wheels are new five-spoke alloys. It's not all just for looks. All the changes provide an aerodynamic advantage and reduced wind noise.

To round off my afternoon, it was back to the role of passenger as Bowe took me on a couple of last hot laps of the track. This time, there was no holding back as he quickly exceeded my 200km/h display. He pushed the car to the limit, showing what it was capable of in the hands of an expert. So if one does manage to give into squealing tyres and the need for speed away from the GS 460's comfort zone, it's nice to know that it's up to the challenge.

 


Snapshot

Lexus GS 460

Price: $134,900

Engine: 4.6L/V8, 255kW/460Nm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Economy: 11L/100km

 

Pricing guides

$14,900
Based on 9 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$12,500
Highest Price
$23,950

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GS450H Hybrid 3.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $10,100 – 15,180 2008 Lexus GS 2008 GS450H Hybrid Pricing and Specs
GS300 Sport 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $7,000 – 10,780 2008 Lexus GS 2008 GS300 Sport Pricing and Specs
GS460 Sport Luxury 4.6L, PULP, 8 SP SEQ AUTO $12,300 – 17,820 2008 Lexus GS 2008 GS460 Sport Luxury Pricing and Specs