First Drive: 2013 Lexus GS reviews luxury cars lexus first drives
2013 Lexus GS. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site
Lexus Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams
(Top photo courtesy Lexus)

Photo Gallery:
2013 Lexus GS

Carmel, California – We didn’t catch a glimpse of Clint Eastwood at the recent launch of the 2013 Lexus GS sedan, but we were told his hometown of Carmel is prime Lexus country and indeed we saw quite a few of those. Mr. Eastwood, the former mayor, would surely have appreciated the use of his town as a backdrop for the GS debut. It is, after all, a spectacular environment populated by residents accustomed to luxury living, luxury homes, and of course, luxury cars.

It’s also very close to the storied Laguna Seca racetrack, where the new GS models would strut their stuff after cruising Carmel’s tony roads.

According to Lexus executives, the main competitors for the midsize Lexus are the “big three” German luxury brands, in the form of the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. What do those cars have in common? Heritage, it must be conceded, but they also successfully blend sportiness and high-performance into their luxury character.

First Drive: 2013 Lexus GS reviews luxury cars lexus first drives
2013 Lexus GS. Click image to enlarge

In contrast — and arguably to its detriment in this segment — Lexus has focused more on pure luxury (the very name, “Lexus” is an exercise in automotive onomatopoeia) while subordinating (or at least, not emphasizing) performance and handling. But the time has apparently come for something of a transformation with the brand.

From now on, passion, performance and excitement will be new ingredients added to the Lexus brand of luxury. In Japanese, “Waku Doki” represents this new spirit. “Heart pumping; adrenaline racing,” is the mantra in English, and this will no longer be your grandfather’s Lexus, we are told, with the company determined to conquest younger buyers while retaining its existing customers.

Embodying this new approach, the 2013 GS 350 starts at $51,900 for the rear-wheel drive (RWD) version, with the price rising to $54,900 for the GS 350 with all-wheel drive (AWD). The model line tops at $64,650 for the GS 450h hybrid model that features a price fully $12,000 less than the outgoing example.

Powering the new GS is a 3.5-litre V6 engine making 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and downshift blip control. Exterior and interior design is all-new, and the redesigned chassis features a performance-oriented suspension with forged aluminum components.

First Drive: 2013 Lexus GS reviews luxury cars lexus first drives
2013 Lexus GS. Click image to enlarge

Door openings are larger for easier ingress and egress, and the body structure has been stiffened without adding weight. The seat structure of the optional 18-way power seat (including calf support, side bolsters) delivers chiropractic support for the driver, and fuel efficiency is improved in comparison with the outgoing model, aided by a very low 0.26 coefficient of drag.

Befitting its performance aspirations, acceleration times from 0-100 km/h are 5.9 seconds for the GS 350 AWD, 5.8 seconds for the GS 350 RWD and 5.4 seconds for the GS 450h. Yes, the hybrid’s the fastest off the line.

Fuel consumption drops to 6.4 L/100 km combined for the hybrid, while the GS 350 AWD returns 9.5 L/100 km and the GS 350 RWD is estimated to consume 9.1 L/100 km combined.

As you would expect in a Lexus, standard equipment is comprehensive, including a variation of Drive Mode Select (a driver selectable control that manages various dimensions of vehicle dynamics); 18-inch alloy wheels; smart key access; power tilt and telescoping steering column; dual zone climate control with intelligent airflow; moonroof; auto-dimming rearview mirrors; power rear sunshade; headlamp washers; rain sensing windshield wipers; perforated leather seats (front heated and ventilated), Bluetooth, second generation remote touch controller and an eight-inch multi-function display.

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