To whoever I was having a discussion the new GS350 with, I got to say by the reviews, I am starting to be impressed. I got to try and test drive one now.
It actually won over the 535i, A6 and M37.
Remember that E60 535i I mentioned, the one we adored and awarded first place in a February 2010 comparison test? Well, this new Lexus GS 350 F Sport reminds us of that car. A lot. Nimble, balanced, precise, and quick, the GS is a (retired) BMW cloaked in Lexus steel. At 3834 pounds, the GS is the lightest of the four and it feels it -- turn-in is sharp and accurate, and weight transfer, whether lateral or longitudinal, is neutral and composed. The Lexus proved the most entertaining, rewarding, and confidence-inspiring up, down, and along our demanding Malibu road loop. Ultimate driving machine? Oh, yeah.
Lieberman: "Great steering. Balanced, communicative, properly weighted. Just a joy to drive. Neutral without being leaden. Very Mazda-like, in fact. And I say all this having driven the car in Sport instead of Sport Plus." Evans: "This is a Lexus? Really impressed with the handling and confidence in the car. Holds the road much better than expected. Can really fling it at the corners." Martinez: "The Sport Plus algorithm allows for a proper testing of its grip thresholds, and on the loop's tight technical zigzags, it was just right. Only once did any traction control light flash, and, unlike the Infiniti, shifts were clean, fast, and when you wanted them. Also unlike the Infiniti: The Lexus felt way smaller than it was. Like, really smaller."
In driving feel, the Lexus does exactly what you want it to do -- it shrinks around you. Yet, when it comes to pampering, it opens up, inviting you into the richest, most aesthetically pleasing cabin in its class. Lieberman: "Gorgeous interior. Love the metalwork, especially the volume and tune knobs. Feels like they're off my old Marantz Quadradial. Extremely solid and finely made." Martinez: "From the classy analog clock to the soft leather lining the seats, center console, and doors to the near-perfect sport steering wheel and massive and clear multimedia display, this Lexus oozes modern sophistication." Evans: "This is my favorite Lexus interior ever. So refined and stylish. Not boring and not overdone."
Here are some numbers to consider: 0-60 in 5.4 seconds; the quarter mile in 14.0 at 101.0 mph; lateral acceleration of 0.94 g; figure eight of 25.4 seconds at 0.71 g; EPA fuel economy of 19/28; and observed mpg of 18.9. Not first, not last; just right in the sweet spot. Only 60-0 braking, at 110 feet, was behind the curve, but only by 4 feet versus the Audi and BMW. Then there's price. At $58,800 as tested, the GS F Sport, again, sits comfortably in the sweet spot.
OK, now for the whale in the room: the prehistoric fish face. "Predator," "Vader," and "abstract art piece" were some of the other terms thrown around. But as Lieberman summed up: "Please don't let the looks detract you from buying the Lexus GS, because it's without doubt the best car of these four."
So go ahead and trade in that old IS. This GS is a midlife crisis cure-all.