The Lexus GS350 F-Sport goes head to head against the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It's daunting competition, so can the luxury Japanese sedan match up?
If you weren't aware, Lexus stands for Luxury EXport United States and was Toyota's solution to the problem of Americans regarding Toyota products as inferior. Simply put, Toyota up-specced its offerings and slapped on a new brand badge on the nose. Today Lexus is one of the most popular brands in the United States. It doesn't do too badly here in South Africa either, with solid offerings in the form of the BMW 3-Series rivaling IS350 and GS.
Performance and engineA big and dynamic-looking vehicle such as the Lexus GS350 F-Sport demands performance to match the looks. In this case, a big 3.5-litre V6 does duty. This big motor serves up 233 kW and 378 Nm - impressive.
What sweetens the deal is as you accelerate, the engine noise changes from a mechanical purr to a solid V6 roar, which is lovely. The Lexus is a good performer though. Expect 100 kph to come up in about 6 seconds, which is plenty performance. The downside of revving the big Lexus GS350 F-Sport is the fuel consumption. I tried my best in Eco Mode and couldn't get the trip computer under 12.9 l /100 km.
Lexus GS350 F-Sport specificationYou'd be hard-pressed to beat the standard specification of the Lexus GS350 F-Sport. When people say a car comes fully equipped, this vehicle should epitomise that phrase.
There's daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlights, adaptive variable suspension, F-sport bodykit, 19-inch gunmetal grey alloys, 16-way adjustable drivers seat, both the driver and passengers seats are heated/ventilated leather units, leather gearshift and steering wheel, different driving modes, reverse camera, satnav and a 12.3 inch multimedia display with computer mouse controller.
Ride and driveWhat's it like to drive, you ask? There's the aforementioned driving modes, which each offer a different experience. Normal is well, normal. Put it into Eco and the car loses some performance as it tries to optimise everything for economy. Things get interesting as you hit Sport, as the engine feels free and eager to please. Put it into Sport Plus and the throttle sharpens up and the active variable suspension firms up. For that full experience, switch to manual mode and change gears using the steering-wheel mounted paddles.
The ride is firm and refined, with very little noise coming in from the outside. There's a slight road noise and I would guess that's coming from the low-profile tyres. In Eco mode (which I heartily recommend for daily use), you'll notice the vehicle is fantastic at being an open-road cruiser. Few cars are this comfortable, solid and stable.
SummaryThe Lexus GS350 F-Sport makes a refreshing alternative to the standard German trio. It has a great engine soundtrack and gadgetry to keep you entertained, and there's plenty of space to boot. It's big, solid and I think it looks terrific. The only gripe for me was that fuel consumption, something which is vital in the modern day. It's competition all make do with smaller turbocharged engines which offer adequate performance. That said, if you're after performance and economy, then consider the Lexus GS450h hybrid.
Second OpinionThe Lexus exudes secluded refinement, the drive is so silent that you feel the Japanese engineers that built it were under threat of decapitation by Samurai sword. Lexus does luxury superbly, but this car has a sporty side to it thanks to a powerful V6 engine, although it feels undignified having to resort to power in such a stately machine. -Ashley Oldfield
Lexus GS350 F-Sport quick specs
|0-100km/h||6 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||10 l/100 km (claimed)|
We dislike: . It's thirsty