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The new Lexus GS350 Sports Luxury is designed for those who want the comfort of a five-star hotel and the performance of a sports car in one attractive package. It's a proper sports sedan with improved looks to match the powerhouse that's under the hood.
The GS350 range kicks off with the Luxury model starting from $ 89,400. For $10,000 more the F-Sport is the middle of the GS350 range and then there’s the range topping Sports Luxury (from $109,400) which we tested.
In terms of value for money the differences to its German rivals are most evident in the extra standard features included across the GS350 range. There's an abundance of comfortable soft leather throughout as you'd expect from a prestige manufacturer but also a lot of extra technology thrown in.
From the massive 12.3-inch widescreen dashboard display to the heads-up display projected on to the windscreen and the centre console joystick controlling the infotainment system it's all top of the range equipment. Then there's the excellent surround sound system and comfortable 20-way power adjustable front seats that you’ll never want to leave.
The new 3.5-litre engine of the GS 350 pumps out 27 per cent more power (233kW) and 22 per cent more torque (378Nm) than the previous Lexus GS 300, and at the some time it manages to slightly improve fuel economy by 0.1L/100km. It incorporates both direct and multiport injection and provides cracking performance.
Mated with a six-speed sequential automatic transmission with paddle shift behind the steering wheel, the GS 350 is capable of accelerating to 100km/h in about 6 seconds. Fuel consumption is a little disappointing in town (quoted at 13.7 litres/100km in the urban cycle) but expect it to drop to 7.4 litres per 100 km during highway cruising. We averaged around 14.5L in our stint in this Lexus.
The GS has a five-star crash rating and ten airbags with all the electronic brake and traction aids. Other safety aids include lane keep assist, a blind spot monitor integrated in the side mirrors, plus auto high-beam headlights which automatically dip when detecting oncoming vehicles.
The pleasant surprise here is that the car's look improved for the better with the new GS350 range. There¹s an attractive new grille, daytime running lights and 18-inch wheels but the rear end looks a little too Toyota Camry like in comparison with the rest of the package.
The interior design is where this car excels as it successfully integrates comfort with function. Controls are easy to use and the seats are so good you might even be looking forward to getting stuck in traffic. The analogue clock in the middle of the dash is something that took a bit of getting used to but it’s reminiscent of older classy luxury cars.
In normal driving the quietness of the cabin really stands out but the exhaust responds acoustically with a sporty note when pushing the revs up. Road noise is kept at a minimum but it¹s the engine sounds that are brought to the front without compromising the luxury feel of the car.
It has a solid and direct feel and suspension is compliant over a range of surfaces. For a car of this size the driving dynamics stand out because it feels a lot more nimble than you might expect.
Rear-wheel steering contributes to this improved handling. It's just two degrees of turning angle but it's has a huge impact on how the car feels. You forget all about 1740kg kerb weight with the sports mode activated and the car suddenly feels agile and ready to devour the next corner. IIt may not be as ballistic as the BMW 535i but push the accelerator hard and you'll get similar thrills for around $50,000 less.
With vastly superior performance than the previous model the new GS350 is fun to drive but also retains the luxurious high quality interior Lexus is renowned for.
It¹s packed with features, driving dynamics are surprisingly good and value for money against the German rivals is impressive. This Lexus is definitely worth a look.
Lexus GS350 Sports Luxury
Price: from $109,400
Engine: 3.5-litre 6-cylinder, 233 kW/ 378 Nm
Transmission: six-speed sequential automatic transmission, RWD
Thirst: 9.7 L/100km, CO2 emissions 225 g/km
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