Redesigned for 2006, the GS 430 and GS 300 are performance-oriented sedans that also offer typical Lexus luxury. Lexus says the look of the new GS reveals a more passionate direction in styling that will be carried forward to future models. The GS 300 debuted in 1993 and the V8-powered GS 400 was added when the GS was redesigned for 1998. For 2001 the GS received design and safety refinements and the GS 400 became GS 430 with the addition of the 4.3-liter V8.
For 2008, Lexus has given its GS sport sedan a modest makeover, with slight changes to the sheet metal and interior. The GS 350 competes with midsize sport sedans like the BMW 535i, Mercedes-Benz E350, Cadillac STS V-6 and Acura RL.
All-wheel drive is available for the GS 350. Hydraulic controls in the system vary the front/rear torque split from 30/70 to 50/50 and provide what Lexus calls the performance advantages of rear-wheel drive with the confident traction of all-wheel drive. The pricier GS 430 becomes the GS 460 thanks to a larger V-8, while the hybrid GS 450h retains the same gas-electric V-6 powertrain. Both models come only with rear-wheel drive.
An option group includes adaptive laser cruise control and a pre-collision system that helps determine if a crash is imminent and takes appropriate steps if it is. Other options include Intuitive Park Assist and adaptive headlights that swivel in accord with the front wheels.
Exterior modifications include a new chrome grille that flanks the headlights more closely than before. The front bumper is also revised, with re-sculpted portals for the air dam and fog light insets. The side mirrors incorporate turn signals, as many luxury cars now do.
Lexus says the sedan has a futuristic look, though the vertical grille and four independent headlights are reminiscent of its predecessor. The GS 350 has a long hood, a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back to the rear of the car. Long side glass and a steep back window enhance the car’s performance image. The sedan is 190 inches long and 71.7 inches wide with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. Options include a moonroof and a power rear sunshade.
For 2008, the GS has new gauges and an aluminum plate surrounding the gearshift. The optional navigation system comes with Bluetooth, voice activation and a rearview camera. A 7-inch dashboard screen works with the navigation system and also serves as a monitor for the Intuitive Park Assist system. A 10-speaker, six-CD stereo is standard, and a Mark Levinson surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional. Trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet.
Five occupants fit inside the GS 350. Ten-way power front seats with heated leather upholstery are standard, and fan ventilation is an option. Premium wood and both polished and leather accents round out the upscale cabin. A Smart Access keyless entry system includes new push-to-start ignition, and the new gauge cluster features aluminum faces. A variable transparency lens reduces glare on the gauges on sunny days. A power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard. Hidden panels to the left of the steering wheel hold infrequently used controls.
Under the Hood
Utilizing direct-injection technology, the 3.5-liter V-6 engine produces 303 hp at 6,200 rpm and 274 pounds-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Each front occupant gets a conventional front airbag as well as a knee airbag, and there are seat-mounted side-impact airbags up front and side curtain airbags for both rows. Also standard are four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system. Lexus’ optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions. Optional adaptive headlights swivel in the direction of a turn to better illuminate corners.