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

There are several packages, including navigation, luxury, technology and technology plus, variations of which bring a 12.3-inch multifunction high-definition display, more comprehensive Drive Mode Select controls that progressively manage chassis, steering, transmission, throttle and suspension settings. Along with premium audio, the two technology packages feature advanced safety technologies, including a pre-collision system with Night View, head-up display, a blind spot monitor and dynamic radar cruise control.

For the GS 350 RWD, there’s also a $7,050 F-Sport package available that builds on the navigation system (which also includes a heated steering wheel and 12.3-inch display) by adding front and rear adaptive variable suspension, variable gear ratio steering with four-wheel active steering (Lexus Dynamic Handling), 19-inch aluminum alloy F-Sport wheels, a three-spoke F-Sport steering wheel, 16-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory, aluminum pedals, F-Sport grille, rear spoiler, scuff plates and shift-knob. The F-Sport package for the GS 350 AWD omits active steering.

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

Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) injects a different feel into the chassis, including dynamic rear steering. It computes optimum steering angles for all four wheels by changing steering gear ratios and rear toe angles. Rear wheels can be turned opposite to or with the front wheels, depending on the manoeuvre required.

The GS 450h hybrid is more comprehensively equipped in base form and is more powerful than its non-hybrid siblings. Using an Atkinson-cycle V6 engine in conjunction with and electric motor, the GS 450h makes a total of 338 hp, and as mentioned above, is fastest variant from standing start to 100 km/h. All-wheel drive is not available with the GS 450h, the transmission is a CVT and it comes standard with the Lexus Variable Adaptive Suspension, Direct Mode Select with Sport + setting, navigation system and the 12.3-inch display.

We drove all GS variations on public roads, on a racetrack and on a slalom course. While they are smooth-riding and quiet, there is certainly a sportier feel to the GS in comparison with the last generation. Body roll is not as evident (there were some 2012 models with which to compare), steering is sharper, the brakes are more powerful and the engine and exhaust note are more evident in the cabin (deliberately so) under acceleration.

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

Exterior design is appealing, with the new grille working well to identify the Lexus brand at a glance, without being too ostentatious. The interior features excellent fit and finish and a pleasing design that still leans more to luxury than sport, in my view.

The F-Sport models best express the new direction Lexus is taking, as they feel somewhat tighter and more immediately responsive to all driver inputs. They are not the equivalent of variants like the BMW M5, Audi S6 or Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG however, as they lack the horsepower and punch of those vehicles. The Lexus IS-F would be a comparable, but Lexus has not yet announced an intention to produce an “F” line across its vehicle range. Presumably this is being considered if the brand wants to be taken seriously as a performance leader.

In truth, the writing’s been on the wall with Lexus for a while. Note the introduction of Lexus IS-F (AJAC 2009 Performance Car of the Year), the startling LFA “supercar,” and the aggressively designed 2012 CT200h. The 2013 GS both follows this direction and leads the way for the other transformed Lexus models as they are introduced.

The 2013 Lexus GS made its debut in Canada this year at the Montreal Auto Show. It will be available for sale in early 2012.

2013 Lexus GS 350 RWD: $51,900
2013 Lexus GS 350 AWD: $54,900
2013 Lexus GS 450h RWD: $64,650