By Samuel Ee
You could say that the new Lexus GS, with its distinctive spindle grille and arrowhead lamps, has finally come a full circle - stylistically at least. When Lexus first introduced this mid-sized sedan two decades ago, it bore the stamp of the legendary Italian master designer Giugiaro. But by the second and third generations, the GS line was losing its visual impact and started looking like just another ordinary Japanese saloon.
Fortunately, the fourth-generation car has re-discovered its mojo and the new GS is cool once again.
In fact, the new styling is nothing short of revolutionary as the car embodies the latest development of the Lexus L-finesse design philosophy.
While the proportions and platform are brand new, the footprint is virtually unchanged - the GS is still 4,850 mm long with a 2,850 mm wheelbase. But for improved vehicle dynamics, the front overhang is 10 mm shorter and both the front and rear track are wider.
The smallest engine has also been downsized in keeping with the more eco-friendly times. There is still a GS350 and a GS Hybrid but the entry-level variant is now the GS250 with a 2.5-litre V6 engine - not like the previous GS300 with a 3.0-litre V6.
The GS250 with its 209 hp and 253 Nm delivered to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox is a familiar Lexus powertrain. But what is novel is the high level of equipment. Apart from the LED running lights, air-conditioned front seats, parking assist system with rear view camera and 10 airbags (front, knee, front side, rear side and curtain), the GS250 also has a blind spot indicator as standard.
For the towkay in the back, the rear centre armrest has integrated controls for the audio and air-con and more importantly, the front passenger seat in front of him can be controlled with easily accessed buttons on the side.
There are four variants of the GS250 - basic, Premium, Luxury and F-Sport - with the last three adding anything from a head up display and Mark Levinson audio system, to a "nanoe" moisturing air-con system and adaptive variable suspension.
The last one accentuates the newfound agility of the GS with its four driving modes. This mid-sized Lexus used to be a comfortable and refined executive express but now it is also fun to drive. The steering is more accurate with improved feedback and the GS250 changes direction more enthusiastically - even the headroom for taller drivers is better.
What helps is the increased rigidity of the new GS body, as well as its lightened suspension components.
|Price:$254,000 (with COE)
Engine: 2,500cc V6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Max Power: 209 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Max Torque: 253 Nm @ 4,800 rpm
0-100kmh: 8.6 secs
Top speed: 225 kmh
CO2 emissions: 215 g/km
Distributor: Distributor Borneo Motors 6631 1388
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of all is that the GS250 does not feel as underpowered as it sounds. With kerb weight of 1,640 kg, it is a mere 10 kg less than the GS350. But performance is credible, especially when the gearbox is manually changed using the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
As with all Lexi, though, the GS250's unique selling point is still its ride comfort and calm cabin ambience. This quiet performer's interior materials and features also look and feel more luxurious, such as the understated aluminium analogue clock and the world's biggest colour display at 12.3 inches. The new GS has redefined the Lexus brand.
This article was first published in The Business Times.