I’ve always liked Lexus products. They’re safe, reliable, and luxurious. They also tend to be boring to drive, unless you are in a specific, sport-designed model. But all of that is about to change. Straight from corporate headquarters in Japan, a new philosophy has emerged – keep the luxury and add European style performance, so all future Lexus models can go head to head with the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
If the 2013 Lexus GS F Sport is any indication of the future, then Lexus is certainly on target. Think of the GS F Sport as a car with a bad attitude, one you mistakenly awoke from Winter’s sleep, and it’s mad as hell. We had the opportunity to drive the F Sport at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and it is an absolute blast. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 that outputs 306 horsepower. The engine’s intake features a “sound generator” that adds a snarly quality when you put your foot into it. Think small block V8 for the sound and power this engine creates. Available in rear wheel drive with rear wheel steering, or all-wheel drive, the GS F Sport’s handling is spot on. Turn in any direction, and inputs are followed as if the vehicle was an agile, obedient canine. Handling prowess comes courtesy of 19” staggered-width alloy wheels, adaptive variable suspension with driver selectable mode switch, and Lexus Dynamic Handling with variable gear ratio electric power steering. Sport seats with power adjustable side bolsters lock you in place during spirited driving. When it’s time to slow your roll, massive multi-piston brakes with enhanced cooling stop you effectively.
Styling is super aggressive, and is the first to feature Lexus’ new “Spindle” grille. Body panels are sharply creased, and very dramatic, but this is not typical tacky Japanese add on styling. All panels flow with synergistic harmonies that indicate speed, power and performance.
The interior features perforated leather seats and aluminum trim throughout. All GS models come equipped with an impressive analog clock that sets off the interior nicely. Stitched leather adorns the dash, door and console panels, as well as the steering wheel and shift knob. Aluminum sport brake and accelerator pedals highlight a stylish performance interior. A large 12.3” display houses a central 8” screen for the navigation, and also displays audio and climate control functions on smaller side screens. Lexus has improved the Enform 2.0 telematics system to include the ability to pair your smartphone so popular apps like Facebook, Pandora and Yelp can be accessed from the display screen. An available 17 speaker, 835 watt Mark Levinson audio system provides concert hall sonic quality.
On the road, the F Sport can turn into a luxo cruiser with the simple rotation of the adaptive damping system dial. In “Eco” mode, throttle settings are geared towards fuel economy, and the car returns a decent 28+ mpg to boot. In “Sport F Plus” mode, all parameters are geared for maximum performance. Should you want to be coddled, opt for the GS Luxury Package, which still gives you 306 horsepower with a friendlier wood and leather demeanor, and less aggressive exterior styling.
But for me, the F Sport is the ticket. Top tier performance and reliability is what I can count on. Luxury performance car ownership no longer has to send you to the poorhouse. Expect the 2013 Lexus GS lineup, which also includes a Hybrid model, in showrooms February of 2012. Prices have not yet been set.