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MONTEREY, Calif. -- Lexus today unveiled its next-generation GS 350 sport sedan, revealing the sheet-metal and interior design cues that will carry across the brand for the next several years.
The 2013 GS, which goes on sale in early 2012, will have only a V-6 or V-6 hybrid powertrain. There will not be a V-8 version available.
Lexus has offered a V-8 version on the previous 2 generations of the GS, but it only represented about 10% of all model sales.
The GS sedan has been seen as bland and bloated next to the BMW 5 series, Mercedes E class and Audi A6.
U.S. sales of the current generation model peaked at 27,390 units in 2006, and tapered off to 7,059 last year.
Lexus is counting on the new GS to help make up ground lost this year to Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the U.S. market.
Lexus, the top-selling luxury brand in the United States for 11 straight years, is expected to lose the crown to 1 of the 2 German rivals in 2011.
Inventory shortages resulting from the March earthquake in Japan have hurt Lexus' U.S. sales, which have dropped 19% to 102,549 this year through July.
The strength of the Japanese yen has made it even more difficult for Lexus to competitively price models built in Japan and exported.
New platform, wider track
In unveiling the new GS, Toyota Motor CEO Akio Toyoda described the car as "amazing to drive."
"Sometimes I drive the engineers crazy, but it's all worth it," Toyoda said in prepared remarks.
The 2013 GS 350 uses an all-new platform, with a 2-inch wider track. Its wheelbase remains the same, but the car is longer, wider and taller than the old model.
Using a carryover 3.5-liter V-6 and 6-speed sequential-shift transmission, the GS 350 accelerates from zero-to-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, the same as the current model. The GS still will be offered in rear- and all-wheel-drive versions.
4 driving modes offer a choice of throttle mapping, transmission shift and traction control settings. Lexus said fuel economy is dramatically improved, without giving details.
The GS' front suspension is mostly unchanged, but uses larger bushings. The rear subframe has been redesigned, with new geometry for its multilink suspension. The platform also benefits from an increase in spot and laser welds to increase rigidity.
Unlike the concept shown at the New York auto show in April, the GS' front fascia does not use a grille that extends uninterrupted from the hoodline to the chin spoiler. Instead, the trapezoidal "spindle" grille is interrupted by a horizontal strip that carries through from the bumper.
As for its overall appearance, the GS looks more like a big brother to the sporty IS sedan.
Inside, the instrument binnacle remains similar in appearance, but the center console's display screen, audio, climate and telematics layouts have been thinned to become more rectangular in appearance.
Hybrid will debut in Frankfurt
A thick-limbed, analog ingot clock divides the two center air vents. A mouselike remote next to the gearshift guides the driver through the on-screen telematics system.
Safety features include 10 airbags, with optional pre-collision system, dynamic radar cruise control, night vision assist, head-up display and lane departure warning.
The hybrid version will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show next month.
An F-Sport model, which is equipped with a suspension and body package, and the possibility of a supercharger, will be seen at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show this fall in Las Vegas.
We've endured the teasers, seen the leaks and even driven a prototype, and now the wraps officially come off. This is the 2013 Lexus GS 350, the automaker's latest bid to create a driver-focused mid-sizer aimed at the hearts, minds and wallets of would-be 5 Series and E-Class buyers. It might be a tough sell, but it's a compelling case on paper, even if the styling leaves us wanting.
The chassis is all-new, the interior is more spacious and it's all powered by a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed sequential shift automatic gearbox. In rear-wheel-drive guise, Lexus claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a run from 30 to 50 mph in three seconds flat. An optional electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system can vary the power split between 50/50 and 30/70, but a torque-vectoring rear differential is notable in its absence.
3 driving modes span the spectrum from fuel-conscious to maximum consumption, with the now-familiar ECO mode reworking the throttle mapping, seat heaters and climate controls for improved fuel economy, while Sport S changes the instrument lighting from blue to red, delivers more aggressive shifts and throttle settings and Sport S+ tightens steering, loosens the stability control and shores up the adaptive suspension.
A 112.2-inch wheelbase works in partnership with aluminum control arms front and rear, along with a completely reworked multi-link rear suspension, beefed up bushings and four-piston aluminum calipers in front and upgraded discs at all 4 corners. Rolling stock include standard 17x7.5-inch wheels with optional 18x8 or 19x8-inch, the latter of which are fitted with 235/45 or 235/40 rubber, respectively.
Lexus managed to keep the dimensions almost exactly the same as the outgoing model and overall curb weight is down from 3,795 pounds to 3,715. The interior is more driver-centric, with all the major controls kept closely at hand, including a new Remote Touch system for the adaptive climate control system – dubbed S-Flow – which can detect how many occupants are in the GS and tailor the HVAC accordingly. Wood and leather abound, the seats appear nicely bolstered and the cabin is several steps above the outgoing model.
Bluetooth phone and audio streaming come standard, along with a 5.1 surround sound stereo and 8-inch central control display mounted high in the center of the dash. SMS text-to-speech allows drivers to have their messages read to them and respond with pre-canned texts, while the next-generation of Lexus Enform infotainment allows Bing searches, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Facebook integration, along with Sirius XM data services for traffic, weather, sports and fuel prices, voice-enabled restaurant reservations through OpenTable and movie ticket purchasing.
If the standard display and audio system is up to snuff, Lexus is offering a 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a split-view, 12.3-inch display for movies, navigation, audio and climate information.
As for the styling, Lexus calls its new fascia a "spindle grille" and it's set to infect the rest of the line-up in the coming years. It's a more subtle interpretation of the GS concept's nose, and although it's certainly toned-down, it's sure to be divisive. The rear opens up to provide 25% more luggage room and we're seeing a whole lotta Sonata in the taillight treatment and sloping trunk.
We'll have live images of the GS 350 a bit later, and we plan to grille Lexus execs on the hybrid and F Sport versions when we corner them this evening. In the meantime, check out all the details in the press release and gallery below.
• A Sport Sedan with World-Class Luxury and Evocative Design Shows New Identity of Lexus
• Outstanding Driving Dynamics and Innovative Technology Combined
• Spacious Interior With Open, Modern Architecture
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif., August 18, 2011 – Lexus today unveiled the all-new GS 350 at a press conference in conjunction with the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. The new 2013 GS combines bold, dynamic styling, precise handling, innovative technology, and a spacious interior. In addition to the GS 350, other 2013 GS models that will be launched in early 2012 include hybrid and F Sport versions, with further details to be announced later this year.
"Today, buyers in the mid-size luxury segment want a more engaging driving experience, styling that makes a statement, and a roomier interior package," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "With the all-new GS, we're giving them what they asked for, and more."
Along with a new Lexus signature spindle grille, the GS is a car that conveys a tangible sense of driver confidence, with a redesigned chassis and a wide, strong stance that inspires and rewards driver participation with crisp and precise handling.
GS engineers challenged themselves to develop a more spacious interior environment. While leaving exterior dimensions virtually unchanged, they dramatically increased cabin and trunk space to create an interior that can easily transport passengers and their luggage in luxury and style regardless of distance.
Richly endowed with world-class features and premium details, the new GS is supported by advanced, performance-enhancing technology that makes it more than just a luxury car. The driver and front passenger will enjoy the clean appearance of the new high-resolution central control display.
￼A New Personality and An Invitation To Drive
Designing the new GS 350 to be both strong and agile was a key focus of the engineering team. They looked to the Lexus LFA supercar for inspiration and carried over some key elements to provide a more engaging driving experience, including a new aerodynamic body; a completely new platform with a wider stance and stiffer structure; a transmission with quicker shifts; distinctive engine sound and exhaust notes; and better seat support.
The new platform is more rigid compared to the current model. Engineers conducted extensive platform testing, ultimately increasing the number of spot welds and adding laser welds in very specific locations. The track, wider by almost two inches, works in combination with a revised suspension design to assure a more solid stance and superior cornering performance.
The new suspension system is designed to help guide the 2013 GS through corners with precision. In the front, upper and lower control arms are made from aluminum and employ larger bushings. The rear subframe has been completely redesigned to accommodate an all-new multi-link rear suspension, using improved suspension geometry that retains tire cornering force and enhances rear control. With the stiffer platform and lighter components, the shocks can use lighter-viscosity oil, so they move easily and respond to small inputs more quickly.
The use of front and rear aluminum control arms helps reduce unsprung weight and results in significant improvements in agility, roll damping, ride comfort, body control and steering precision. Overall, the suspension is lighter and stronger, allowing it to react to driver input readily, and ride quietly without harshness. Ventilated disc brakes featuring four-piston aluminum front calipers are endowed with the latest electronic enhancements to help provide braking balance and control.
Customized Driving Experience
The new GS is powered by an advanced 3.5-liter V6, four cams, and four valves per cylinder with dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). At 306 horsepower, it is one of the most powerful base engines in the segment, as well as the only one with both port and direct injection. It propels the GS from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds and at the same time, fuel economy has been improved.
Acceleration from 30 to 50 mph can take just 3.0 seconds, and improved engine sound characteristics complement the bolder, more energetic personality of the new GS. The 6-speed sequential shift automatic transmission has paddle shifters and sport driving functions as standard equipment.
The transmission incorporates many features adopted from the Lexus IS F high-performance sedan - including faster shifts, earlier torque converter lockup and downshift throttle blips - to support four driving modes that can be operated by toggling the new Lexus Drive Mode selector. In addition to the Normal mode, the following settings let the driver customize the driving experience:
• ECO mode revises throttle mapping, seat heating, and climate control systems for better fuel economy. In ECO mode, meter lighting changes to blue.
• SPORT S mode revises throttle mapping and transmission shifting priorities to fully exploit the capabilities of the powertrain. In SPORT S mode, meter lighting changes to red.
• SPORT S+ mode (available on some models) engages handling enhancements via a sport setting of the adaptive variable suspension, steering system, and vehicle stability control (VSC) together with the powertrain enhancements of SPORT S mode.
An optional electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system is designed to enhance traction in a variety of driving conditions. The system can vary front-to-rear torque balance from 50/50 to as much as 30/70, depending on driving conditions, for exceptional control.
Innovative Lexus Design
The 2013 GS expresses a new generation of Lexus' design philosophy with its precisely
sculpted exterior and will lead the rest of the lineup in an entirely new direction. When designers shaped the GS they visualized the flow of air around it and, like the LFA supercar, maximized aerodynamic efficiency for class-leading coefficient of drag.
The GS fuses distinctive style with engineering functionality. Fins incorporated into the side of the tail lamps and the design of the trunk area all help direct air over and past the car. The rear bumper underbody area was designed for reduced wind resistance to help keep the car firmly planted on the ground. Finally, air inlets located on the outer edges of the lower grille serve as cooling ducts.
The signature spindle grille with its trapezoidal contours evolved from current Lexus styling and fully integrates into the aggressive front bumper allowing for efficient airflow. This distinctive Lexus design feature combined with the deep-set, high-tech headlamps and L-shaped LED daytime running lamps further express the vehicle's confident and dynamic character. The headlamps use a projector beam design, adding a strong, chiseled appearance and excellent illumination.
From the side, the GS projects the image of a spacious sport sedan with a road-hugging wider stance. The tapered lower rocker panel and the short front overhang give the vehicle a sense of motion. Width-enhancing front and rear wheel arches adds an athletic stance enhancing the vehicle's dynamic presence.
The rear bumper features a distinctive exhaust diffuser and centered aero fins to help control underbody airflow. Combined with the L-shaped LED tail lamps, a Lexus design cue, these rear bumper features lend a high-performance appearance. Overall, the new GS sheet metal represents a significant extension of the Lexus L-finesse philosophy that is the core of all Lexus product design.
The GS 350 will feature three colors that are new to the Lexus color palette: Riviera Red, Meteor Blue Metallic and Liquid Platinum. Vehicles in Riviera Red will benefit from glass flakes incorporated into the coating that adds a high level of brilliance to the paint. Lexus engineers developed a new advanced coating process for Liquid Platinum exteriors. The GS 350 will be the first Lexus to adopt this new coating technology. Vehicles with the Liquid Platinum exterior will appear more radiant as an additional metallic texture gives both strong shading and defined, sharp highlights. This metallic effect makes subtle and defined bodylines more noticeable and the surface appear finely polished.
Spacious Interior with Premium Upgrades
The GS provides more overall space for all occupants. With these changes, the new GS offers comfortable space for front and rear passengers.
Upgraded accommodations start with the driver. The entire cabin was created around the driver and the driving experience. A horizontal-themed instrument panel emphasizes the spaciousness through its wide layout. A redesigned seat frame and changes to steering column architecture enable an improved driver seating position for increased comfort, better forward visibility and overall command of the road. Equal attention has been paid to maximizing space for rear passengers, adding headroom, legroom, knee room and improved foot space compared to the current generation GS.
Door openings have also been revised for easier ingress and egress. Trunk space has been increased by almost 25%, and trunk access is improved with a wider, deeper opening.
Painstaking attention to detail was applied to the GS cabin as well to create a balance of luxurious and technological amenities and emotional design. The new layout of the long, sculpted dash gives the driver and front passenger a sense of roominess through its clean center stack and new, large high-resolution center control display placed deep near the front windshield. Most of the comfort and convenience controls such as audio and climate were relocated to provide a cleaner and more sophisticated dash layout.
The interior includes a number of embedded premium upgrades as standard equipment. A new energy-saving auto climate control system called S-Flow uses the occupant-detection system to focus airflow only to the front area where passengers are actually seated, a first-in-class technology. A next-generation Remote Touch with one-push confirmation is standard on all models and enables smooth, intuitive operations control.
The Remote Touch allows the user to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, optional navigation system and more. The screen menus are selected with the controller, eliminating the need to reach out. Remote touch also reduces eye movement and helps users operate functions with reduced effort and distraction. A standard rear back-up camera helps add security and convenience.
The finely crafted cabin detail is complemented further by ambient lighting that unobtrusively welcomes and guides the user into the vehicle, providing a carefully designed experience. New white LED lights are sequentially lit to illuminate the areas around the doors, center console and footwells. A new analog clock with LED indicators, carved from an ingot, adds a unique touch, at once both modern and traditional.
Cabin materials include three types of wood specially chosen to highlight the unique flavors of the model variations. Meticulously detailed contrast stitching is used as a visual accent on the instrument panel, door trim, center console, shift **** and steering wheel to create a rich, tailored interior space.
Next-generation Lexus multimedia brings a host of standard entertainment and connectivity enhancements, including enhanced Bluetooth® capability with automatic phonebook download and streaming audio.
GS buyers will get DVD audio and video compatibility, MP3 sound enhancement, 5.1 Surround Sound, and a high-resolution 8-inch central control display centrally located high up in the instrument panel. An SMS text-to-speech feature allows the driver to be read text messages and send preset responses with a compatible smart phone. HD RadioTM with iTunes tagging and a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio are standard. The Gracenote Media management system creates dynamic music playlists and a voice recognition solution recognizes nicknames for music artists and even some mispronunciations.
By adding the optional navigation system, GS owners can get an industry-first 12.3-inch, split-screen, high-resolution multi-media display. The split-screen ultra-large display enhances visibility through the use of advanced, high-definition graphics that are easy to read and easy to use. The 12.3-inch screen is large enough to support simultaneous, split-screen viewing of a large map display, plus audio, climate or other vehicle information.
GS buyers will also have access to next-generation Lexus Enform®, the system that leverages mobile phone technology to provide a new level of connectivity and information management. Local searches can be conducted through Bing, or use voice-enabled apps to make restaurant reservations through OpenTable, get movie tickets via MovieTickets.com or tap into internet radio, including Pandora® or iHeartRadio.
They will also appreciate the ability to check-in on Facebook, and search for restaurant reviews on Yelp. SiriusXM data services offer information on stocks, traffic, weather, sports and fuel prices. The system is updatable and upgradeable through over-the-air downloads, so new apps and content can be readily added.
For audiophiles who insist on the ultimate in audio performance, an 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is available. The system provides 7.1 Surround Sound through 10 channels using a new class D Digital amplifier and luxury-first Green EdgeTM speakers that are lighter, more energy-efficient and have less distortion. The new system produces almost three times as many watts per channel over the previous generation.
￼Integrated Safety Systems
In addition to enhanced braking systems and an impact-absorbing body structure, the new GS offers significant advances in both passive and active safety systems as standard equipment.
There are a class-leading 10 airbags in the new GS, including a knee airbag for both front driver and passenger. Rear seat occupants have seat-mounted side airbags, and all four outboard occupants are equipped with side curtain airbags.
New Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats increases the likelihood that occupants will be in optimum position at the moment of impact, enhancing the protective effect of the seatbelt system. Standard seatbelts with pretensioners with force limiters used for front and outboard rear seats further assist occupant protection.
Available options to help further enhance occupant safety include a pre-collision system, which uses the dynamic radar cruise control system to provide early warning of upcoming objects that might result in a collision. The system also uses a 1st-in-class infrared camera to monitor the driver's eyes to check on driver status. In the event that the driver does not appear to be looking forward when a collision appears imminent, the system will initiate the warning at an earlier threshold. If the driver still does not respond and make the appropriate maneuver, the system will initiate braking intervention up to two seconds prior to impact, helping to lessen the severity of the collision.
Other available safety systems include a Night Vision System that enhances driver visibility at night; Heads Up Display (HUD); a Blind Spot Monitor that helps detect vehicles in rear/side blind spots; and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW). GS is the 1st in its segment to offer LKA with active steering torque to provide a small amount to assist in maintaining course, while the LDW feature alerts the driver if the system detects that the vehicle is beginning to drift out of the lane.
"The new GS 350 combines luxury, outstanding driving dynamics and world-class technology features in a new and bold design," said Templin. "We expect this car to occupy a key position both at the core of the Lexus brand and at the heart of the mid-luxury sedan segment."
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
Lexus says that it hopes its fourth-generation midsize luxury sports sedan range will have what it takes to compete against established rivals from Germany and Japan. Unveiled today in Monterey, California, the 2012 Lexus GS is boldly styled inside and out, although it is clearly derivative of the 1st-generation GS.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you’re a fan of Italian design firm Giugiaro. The 1st GS, released nearly 20 years ago, was penned by legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugaro. But the GS never caught on with buyers, even after Lexus slipped a V8 under its hood in the heady days of the late 1990s.
For 2012, the GS’ biggest changes might come under its skin. Lexus promises vastly superior driving dynamics to the outgoing model. Topping the line for enthusiasts will be a new F-Sport model, although the GS 450h hybrid will return with a way more eco-friendly powertrain.
The base engine will be a 306 horsepower, 277 lb-ft of torque 3.5-liter V6, complete with technologies such as Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), port and direct injection. This will propel the base GS 350 from a dead stop to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds, while simultaneously producing improved fuel economy over the outgoing model. Shifting is handled by a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters for added control.
A more rigid platform with a wider track and what Lexus promises are substantial suspension modifications should make the car more performance-oriented compared to the fairly staid current model. Up front, GS rides on aluminum upper and lower control arms with larger bushings, while the rear benefits from an all-new multilink setup designed to enhance rear end control. Performance shock absorbers will be standard across the line, a move Toyota chief Akio Toyoda is said to have demanded.
And it was Toyoda himself who helped put the GS through its paces during its development. A noted performance driver, Toyoda was unhappy with Lexus’ increasingly soft direction when he took the reigns of the automaker that bears an anglicized version of his family name a few years ago.
But the GS will still coddle passengers in Lexus’ trademark way, the automaker says. Inside, the demeanor is notably more sporty, with certain cues from the LF-A supercar and CT 200h small hybrid hatchback evident throughout. A tiered dashboard is covered in more premium materials and Lexus says that unique color trims will be on offer. Remote touch buttons and LED lighting add a high tech feel. An 835-watt Mark Levinson audio system will pump the driver’s chosen music through 17 speakers with 7.1 surround sound, while navigation-equipped models will employ an enormous 12.3-inch split-view screen.
Safety features are anything but sparse in the GS, with a class-leading 10 airbags, including knee airbags for both front seat occupants. New whiplash Injury Lessening front seats also work to minimize injury due to improper seat location during an accident.
Optional safety technology includes a pre-collision system, which uses the dynamic radar cruise control system to provide early warning of upcoming objects that might result in a collision, a Night Vision System, Heads Up Display, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and – for the 1st time in the segment – active steering torque. Active steering torque aids the driver in maintaining course if it determines an unintentional deviation is occurring.
The GS will make its auto show debut in a few weeks at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
After all the spy shots and all the teasing, Lexus has finally unveiled the new 2013 Lexus GS 350 at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Joining the new Lexus GS 350, the company will add other 2013 GS models in early 2012 with the hybrid and the F Sport versions.
“Today, buyers in the mid-size luxury segment want a more engaging driving experience, styling that makes a statement, and a roomier interior package,” said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “With the all-new GS, we’re giving them what they asked for, and more.”
Totally redesigned for the 2013 model year, the new Lexus GS features aggressive and dynamic styling, precise handling, innovative technology, and a spacious interior – or so Lexus says. The new GS measures 190.9 inches in length, 72.4 inches in width, 57.3 inches in height and sits on a wheelbase measuring 112.2 inches.
The interior of the 2013 Lexus GS has also been revamped along with new technological features including a next-generation Lexus multimedia with DVD audio and video compatibility, MP3 sound enhancement, 5.1 Surround Sound, and a high-resolution eight-inch central control display centrally located high up in the instrument panel. Adding the optional navigation system will give you the industry’s 1st 12.3 inch split-screen high-resolution multi-media display.
Power for the 2013 Lexus GS 350 comes from a 3.5 liter V6 engine making 306-hp at 6,400 rpm with a maximum torque of 277 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed sequential-shift transmission, the Lexus GS sprints from 0 to 60 mph in an impressive 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 142 mph. Acceleration from 30 to 50 mph takes just 3 seconds.
The new 2013 Lexus GS 350 also debuts the new Lexus Drive Mode selector, which offers 3 driving modes including ECO, Sport S and Sport S+. Of course we’re concerned with the Sport S+ and we’re pretty sure you are too. The model enhances handling by switching up the adaptive variable suspension, steering system, and vehicle stability control (VSC) together with the powertrain enhancements of SPORT S mode.
Prices and other details on the 2013 Lexus GS 350 will be announced closer to launch date.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
When Lexus unveiled the LF-Gh concept at this year's New York Auto Show, few expected the dramatic, sharp-edged look to make it to production, but that's exactly what Lexus has done. Only minimal concessions to convention have been made for the 2013 Lexus GS 350, with most of the particularly striking front end's styling staying intact.
The door handles, fog lights, exhaust outlets, tail lights, and shaved side mirrors are the only real differences from the concept, all toned down or brought in line with the necessities of day-to-day use. Otherwise, the aggressive, high-tech look has made it through to the finished product. Lexus buyers will be happy, and those that might have dismissed the brand previously will no doubt be taking 2nd looks.
A control **** in the console offers a choice of Eco, Normal, Sport S and S+ modes for the drivetrain, while a separate button puts the car in Snow mode. These settings control how the six-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission, throttle, and suspension react to the driver's inputs. This drive selector is adapted from the high-performance IS F sedan, and also controls seat heating and climate control systems in Eco mode; instrument panel lighting colors in Sport S mode; and stability control and steering in Sport S+ mode.
A 306-horsepower, 277-pound-feet of torque, 3.5-liter V-6 engine propels the GS 350, quickly enough for 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Perhaps more importantly, 30-50 mph acceleration takes just 3.0 seconds, making it easier to shoot gaps in traffic and make passes. The new GS weighs in at 3,715 pounds--not exactly a featherweight, but relatively light given its size and luxury class. Standard wheels are 17x7.5 inches all around, while upgrades to 18x8-inch or 19x8-inch wheels are available. Top speed is electronically limited to 142 mph. Lexus says the new GS gets better fuel economy than the previous model's 19/26 mpg rating, but hasn't disclosed precise figures yet. The GS will be available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. A hybrid GS 450h and GS 350 F Sport will join the lineup later this year, with details to follow.
But it's not all about the exterior and powertrain with the new GS. The interior is all-new, too, with a pleasing leather and brushed metal theme dominating. Two-tone upholstery, wood accents, and streamlined controls throughout the cabin offer a refined, modern look that's neither too understated nor too busy.
The huge display screen is set into a dedicated recess in the dash, offeringa access to media, navigation, climate, and phone controls through the console-mounted Remote Touch haptic input device. The center stack itself is surprisingly simple, with just the core HVAC and audio controls using real estate for buttons.
Innovative features include an intelligent "S-Flow" climate control system saves energy by only sending airflow to areas where passengers are seated. All GS models come standard with a rear backup camera, as is the Remote Touch input system. LED ambient lighting accents the cabin at night, and a new analog clock--carved from a solid ingot--graces the dash.
All GS sedans also get DVD audio and video capability, a format that's not all that popular, but is impressive in its quality when you can find media that uses. MP3 sound enhancement, 5.1 Surround Sound, and an 8-inch display screen are also standard gear, making the Bluetooth streaming audio and automatic phonebook download more useful. GS owners even get SMS text-to-speech that reads off incoming text messages so they don't have to take their eyes off the road.
Upgrading to the optional navigation system adds the huge 12.3-inch display shown in the photos, which uses a split-screen arrangement to allow simultaneous view of navigation maps plus audio, climate, or other information. A Mark Levinson 7.1 Surround Sound audio system is also available, pumping 835 watts through 17 speakers on 10 channels via a class D digital amplifier. The speakers are even eco-friendly: Green Edge-brand units that are lighter and more energy efficient than standard speakers.
Included safety equipment for all GS models: 10 airbags, including knee bags for both front seats; Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats; and pre-tensioners on the seatbelts.
Optional safety upgrades include a pre-collision system that uses the adaptive radar cruise control system's sensors to warn of an impending crash plus an infrared camera used to monitor the driver's eyes for signs of inattention. If the driver doesn't react as expected or required, the system can intervene with braking up to two seconds before impact. Night vision, heads-up display (HUD), and blind-spot monitoring are also available.
We're on the scene at Pebble Beach, so look forward to more on the 2013 Lexus GS 350, including live images from the car's debut.
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is a much-needed step in a new direction for Lexus. In an attempt to lure in younger buyers, the new GS is not only sportier than its predecessor (having spent much time going round Germany's Nurburgring), but also loaded with gadgets and gizmos that young techies are sure to love. While it might not be the giant leap forward we had hoped for, we're already sure that it is much more car than its oft-forgotten predecessor.
Under the hood, the 2013 GS 350 features the same 3.5-liter V-6 as the 2011 model, but with a slight power bump to 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. It remains mated exclusively to a 6-speed automatic gearbox in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations. Lexus claims a 0-60 mph time of around 5.7 seconds, which is just as fast as the current-generation GS. The electronically limited top speed gets a slight bump up to 142 mph, from 140 mph. Two other GS models will be unveiled by the time the 350 hits dealer showrooms in early 2012 -- a Hybrid, and an F-Sport. The Hybrid, which will be revealed at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show, is likely to retain the powertrain of the 2011 GS 450h, and Lexus released a teaser of photo a model bearing that name. The F-Sport will feature the same engine as the regular GS 350 but with 19-inch wheels, sticky tires, bigger brakes, variable-rate steering, and an adaptive suspension.
Lexus officials indicated the V-8 model will be dropped from the lineup, with the hybrid serving as its de facto replacement. While that might cause much lament among enthusiasts, it's not all bad. Chief engineer Yoshihiko Kanamori says the 2013 GS 450h hybrid will outperform the current gen V-8-powered GS 460. For comparison's sake, the last eight-cylinder GS we tested went from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. Lexus is currently mum on fuel economy ratings, other than saying they're improved from the old model's 19/26 mpg city/highway EPA rating.
Since Lexus didn't spend its whole development budget on engines for the GS, it had plenty of money to invest in making the new car more fun to drive. Key to the fun quotient are the GS' four selectable driving modes, two of which have sportiness in mind. In addition to Standard mode, the GS has an ECO mode that, Lexus says, "revises throttle mapping, seat heating, and climate control systems for better fuel economy." As an added bonus, in ECO mode the GS' gauge lighting changes to a cool blue. The next mode is SPORT S, which will increase throttle response and change the transmission's shift points to "fully exploit the capabilities of the powertrain." The last mode, SPORT S+, will only be available on certain models. SPORT S+ builds upon SPORT S by firming up the suspension, tightening up the steering, and remapping the stability control system to allow more aggressive driving. Both SPORT S and SPORTS S+ feature meter lighting in a fierce-looking red.
Lexus has also invested heavily in the car's suspension to give it a more sporting feel than the previous gen, starting with a new, more rigid chassis and a track that's almost 2 inches wider than the last GS. There are new aluminum upper and lower control arms all around, and larger, softer bushings in front, while in back Lexus designed an all-new multi-link setup.
The 2013 GS looks much more aggressive than the previous model. With its wider track and aggressive wheel arches, the GS is rather sporty-looking -- or at least much more so than Lexus' previous effort. Its design will serve as a preview of things to come from Lexus. The automaker has indicated that the 2013 GS 350's design language, including its new signature hourglass-shaped "spindle grille," will lead its lineup in a new direction.
The sheetmetal was designed with aerodynamics in mind. Lexus incorporated fins into its signature L-shaped taillamps, as well as onto the trunk to help direct air over and away from the car. The rear bumper and underbody were designed to help the GS slice through the air while remaining firmly planted to the road. Perhaps the GS 350's most prominent exterior features are the twin blade-like chrome strips that flank the trapezoidal grille. Like in the rest of the car, Lexus says aerodynamics play a key role here, as the grille is designed to improve the flow of air around the car. Bordering each side of the grille, right next to the foglights, are 2 fully-functional air inlets used to cool the brakes, among other things.
Inside, Lexus mixes up the GS 350's interior a bit. In what might be a first for the automaker, the entire cabin was shaped to enhance the driving experience, rather than the "old-fashioned" Lexus way of coddling all passengers. Lexus said it changed the driver's seating position so that the driver has "increased comfort, better forward visibility, and overall command of the road." And while the exterior dimensions of the GS are virtually the same, Lexus increased both cabin and trunk space. The new GS features added head, leg- and knee room, as well as more foot space, compared with the old GS. Trunk space is increased trunk space by 25%, with a wider and deeper trunk opening.
Perhaps the cabin's most distinctive feature is the massive 12.3-inch screen that comes with the optional navigation system. The screen is capable of supporting high-definition graphics, and can be split to show both a large map, and any number of other displays, like audio or climate control information, much like the big screen offered in many BMWs. But that's not the only screen the GS has. There's also a high-resolution 8-inch display centrally located in the instrument panel. This second display can be used with Lexus' Remote Touch system, which allows the driver to operate climate, audio, navigation and phone controls from steering wheel-mounted buttons, without having to take their eyes off the road. The GS incorporates tech favorites like Pandora, iHeartRadio, Facebook, Yelp, and Open Table, among others.
Lexus also loaded up the GS with safety technology, including a system that uses the car's radar cruise control to warn the driver about objects on the road, and an infrared camera to detect if the driver has noticed an object or not. If the driver hasn't, the system will let out a warning chime, and preload the brakes. If no further action is taken, the GS will start braking 2 seconds before impact, Lexus says, to help to lessen the severity of the collision. Lexus also will offer night vision, a head-up display, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and Lane Keep Assist. Lane Keep Assist will provide a boost of torque to one side of the car to help the driver maintain course if the system detects the driver is beginning to drift from their lane.
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda will be taking over the helm at Lexus, and played a big part in the GS project, proudly telling us, "This car is amazing to drive." We hope so, as the GS represents an important crossroads for the brand.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
I got to spend some time behind the wheel of 2 pre-production and heavily camouflaged 4th-generation 2013 Lexus GS prototypes on a handling course as well on the Azusa Canyon Road in California.
From a driving dynamics standpoint, the new GS marks a substantial improvement over the current car. The weight is roughly identical at around 1,650 kilograms, but the new car's body is 15 per cent stiffer and the weight distribution is now set at 52 per cent over the front axle and 48 per cent over the rear axle. The platform and the geometry of the front suspension have been redesigned, while a new rear suspension has been developed.
Carving up the canyon road, the new GS feels a lot more like a BMW than a Lexus, especially when the Sport-S mode is selected, as this firms up the suspension and provides better throttle response and faster shifts from the 6-speed automatic gearbox. Select the manual mode on the transmission and the throttle will also be blipped to make for smoother downshifts, while using the now de rigueur steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Overall, the new car is now a sure-footed and extremely competent performer that does not mind being driven hard, unlike the previous car.
1 of the 2 prototypes I got to drive was equipped with the available Dynamic Handling System as well as the Dynamic Rear Steering.
This car was vastly superior in terms of handling by reducing understeer; if you are into spirited driving, this set-up is definitely the 1 to choose when the car comes to market.
The cabin feels much roomier and the dashboard now features a 30-centimetre-wide screen as well as a new analog clock with a three-dimensional face.
The front seats feature fully adjustable side bolsters that provide great lateral support in the corners. Trunk space has also been increased from 12.7 cubic feet to roughly 15.8 cubic feet due to the new design of the rear suspension.
The engine and gearbox have been largely carried over from the current car.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
A Last Chance for the Lexus GS The wheelbase and overall length of the 2013 GS are the same as the 2011 GS 350, but the car is taller, the front track is 1.6 inches wider and the rear track is 2 inches wider.
LOS ANGELES -- Brilliance comes from desperation.
Since the mid-'90s, Lexus has tried to create a sport sedan with the cachet of the Mercedes E class and the performance of the BMW 5 series. In 3 generations, it has accomplished neither.
Past Lexus GS efforts have done so poorly in sales and critical comparison tests that Toyota's board was ready to kill the upcoming generation of the car before launch.
This is the last chance for the GS. It is also, by far, the best effort.
The basics: Previous GS attempts were plagued with numb steering, floppy handling and choppy brakes. Yes, they were fast, but not much else. Add in bland exterior styling and vanilla interiors, and it's no wonder the car fared poorly against the Germans.
The new GS 350 has a much tighter feel dynamically, though the electric power steering is still a touch vague. Through an autocross comparison test, the GS seemed more connected to the driver than the Mercedes E350, though it still couldn't touch the accuracy and response of a BMW 535i.
As for the GS 350's looks, the aggressive "spindle grille" fascia will be polarizing, but at least it has some personality. The interior layout is more horizontal than is typical of most center stacks. An analog clock makes a return.
The wheelbase and overall length are the same as the 2011 GS 350, but the car is taller, the front track is 1.6 inches wider and the rear track is 2 inches wider. The base sedan is rear-wheel drive, and there is an all-wheel-drive edition. This platform also will be the underpinning for the next-generation IS sedans that will come late next year.
For those who miss the thunder of a V-8 engine, the V-6 comes with an intake baffle that delivers a bit more rumble to the cockpit. Not that the engine lacks grunt: The GS 350 goes from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds.
The double-wishbone front suspension has new geometry and a greater use of aluminum. The changed rear suspension design has moved the spring from a coil-over shock to a more inboard location, which helps with trunk space. An adaptive variable suspension is optional, allowing for stiffer suspension settings. An optional 4-wheel steering system uses variable gear ratios to help the GS through tough corners.
Notable features: The GS 450h hybrid generates thrust equivalent to a V-8 engine and gets a real-world 31 mpg. The hybrid's engine has changed from an Otto to an Atkinson cycle for better fuel efficiency, while the electric motor makes up for the Atkinson's flat spot in the torque curve.
Manufacturing advancements include both laser and spot welds in crucial areas such as wheel arches and suspension-mounting points. For certain structural pieces, Lexus developed a type of ultrahigh-strength steel that can only be formed when it is glowing hot.
Weight reduction was a key objective, whether it was the thickness of radiator hoses or the clamps that hold them. Still, all the added technology means the car is heavier.
A new generation of Lexus seats debuts with the 2013 GS, including an optional seat that adjusts to articulate through the entire curvature of the spine. Another neat touch: The cross-section of the steering wheel changes its radius, making rapid rotations of the wheel easier.
Standard features include moonroof, 17-inch wheels, paddle shifters, LED interior running lights, bi-xenon headlamps, 10-way power seats, rear air conditioning vents and Bluetooth connectivity.
The 10 airbags include front knee airbags and rear-occupant torso bags mounted into the seats, in addition to window curtains. When the navigation option is chosen, the 12.3-inch information screen is wider than that of an iPad.
A new generation of Lexus seats debuts with this vehicle, including an optional seat that adjusts to articulate through the entire curvature of the spine. Another neat touch: The cross-section of the steering wheel changes its radius, making rapid rotations of the wheel easier. And, finally, there is a Japanese car that has lane-change turn indicators that blink three times when the signal stalk is lightly toggled.
The GS also comes in F-Sport trim, which is a factory-built performance pack that includes 19-inch wheels, larger brakes, stiffer suspension, variable gear ratio steering and bolder design cues.
What Lexus says: "The GS plays a much more important role for Lexus," Mark Templin, Lexus Division general manager, said at the press introduction here. "It's a bolder, more confident direction for the brand. There is no going back."
Compromises and shortcomings: There's no V-8 version; Lexus says the take rate was low, and more people were willing to pay a premium for a hybrid. Also, while other luxury brands are going to 7- and 8-speed automatics, the GS sticks with a 6-speed -- although the shift timing has been improved.
The market: The GS 350 goes on sale in February; the hybrid shortly thereafter. Lexus hopes to sell 20,000-25,000 units annually. The current generation peaked at 15,759 units in 2008, although the GS series sold 33,457 units in 2005. The Lexus brand has a 40% conquest rate for sales, due to its high owner loyalty, but it wants the GS to conquest at a 60% rate. Lexus will kick off the GS marketing with a Super Bowl commercial, the 1st time the brand has been involved in the game.
The skinny: Lexus bosses persuaded Toyota President Akio Toyoda not to kill the GS. But can Lexus convince Americans that the GS is better than the E class or 5 series? That may be a tougher pitch.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470
You didn’t have to be a reasonably seasoned automotive reporter to figure out what the central theme was surrounding the debut of the 2013 Lexus GS.
To most diehard gear heads, Lexus is unfairly considered a dirty word. The ugly refrain says the Japanese automaker’s cars lack passion – that their inherent smoothness and abundance of technology makes them less fun to drive. It’s a confusing argument, essentially claiming a Lexus is built too well to be an appealing car.
Obviously, Toyota’s upscale sister company is hip to those hardcore car fan complaints as the Lexus execs on-hand for the special roll-out of the 2013 Lexus GS continued to stress the passion that went into building the vehicle – and to the attention paid to generating an “emotional response” from the driver.
The automotive press gathered at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel recently to drive the new sporty luxury sedan along the Pacific Coast Highway, through the hills linking Orange County to San Diego and over to a specially set-up track at the retired El Torro Marine Base (the current home of the American Top Gear set).
The 4 door GS is targeted at the gap between the bigger Lexus LS and the smaller IS series. But, the new generation indicates a new aspiration toward sportiness across the Lexus line. The GS sports a new signature grill inspired by the now iconic Lexus LFA super car. Those flashier lines don’t carry over the more conservative general lines of the car, but it’s a step in the right direction toward making a Lexus something you get out of the way on the highway.
Inside, the GS all of the elite technological sophistication you’d expect from a Lexus with the addition of a 12-inch-wide navigation and menu screen (the largest of any luxury car so far). Also, the crew from Mark Levinson by Harman were on also on hand to demo the specially tuned stereo package option. The unbelievable powerful and sharp sound setup adds will add thousands of dollars to the cost of the GS, but it also effectively transforms your car into a live concert hall.
Three variations of the GS were on hand during the track test period – the V6 350, the 450h hybrid and the dynamically kitted out 350 F Sport. After taking a shot at all three, the F Sport was the clear favorite with its Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) system and Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS) that slightly steers the back wheels to reduce understeer.
By way of comparison, Lexus had a 2011 BMW 535i and a 2011 Mercedes Benz 350 series on hand at the track. After driving all 3, I can say the BMW felt a little more precise, while the Mercedes seemed more powerful. But, all GS models drove as the best overall package of power, handling and (of course) smoothness.
The only awkward moment of the entire roll-out had very little to do with the actual car. To give the assembled press of how Lexus sees the average GS owner, the company introduced us to their fictional ideal buyer, Greg Smith. (G.S. Get it? Clever). He’s in his late 40s. Married, successful. Fit and handsome under graying temples. However, never satisfied and always pushing for more, etc.
Lexus certainly isn’t the only car company doing this, so don’t hold it against them. I’ve seen other automakers (especially those on the little more exclusive end of the market) use the same technique. But, no matter how marketing pros try to paint a compelling picture of dynamic, interesting would-be buyer of a given car, they invariably lay-out a detailed sketch of a boring, self-absorbed tool you wouldn’t want to have a drink with under any circumstances. A fellow journalist and I spent the dinner session creating Smith’s WASP-ish dark side, just to spice him up a bit.
After all, the GS is all about Lexus continuing its exploration of “passion.” It’s fast, lively and responsive – and too good for the likes of Greg Smith.
__________________ In the Family's Collective Garage:
2006 GS300 & 2007 GX470