Since its introduction over twenty years ago, Lexus has built a reputation based on comfort and industry-leading reliability. Now the brand is trying to establish itself as a serious performance car builder. With the door opened by the LFA supercar and the ES increasing in size to cover the comfort end of the midsize market, the 2013 Lexus GS sedan was open for a sporty makeover. Critics were wowed by the car’s performance when it debuted, comparing it favorably with major players in the performance sedan market. Now there’s news of a coupe version on the way that will bring even better performance.
What makes the GS so different?
The shift in the GS’s mission began with the styling. Lexus introduced their new spindle grill on the car, while drawing other styling cues from the IS. The wide shouldered look of the old GS was gone, replaced by sharp creases befitting a sports sedan. Rear seat room increased to improve practicality, but lightweight materials kept the curb weight the same as the outgoing model.
A new adaptive suspension kept the comfort levels the same while making the car much more agile. All models allow the driver to tune throttle response on the fly with the “Eco,” “Standard,” and “Sport” modes, providing a trade-off between performance and fuel economy. The Luxury and F-Sport trims added another setting, “Sport+,” that sets the suspension and throttle control to provide maximum performance.
The car also got its own version of the F Sport line. Bulging fenders were added to cover the larger tires and wheels, but the designers also decided to add a striking angular lower clip to help differentiate it from the standard car. Instead of dropping in a massive engine, Lexus decided to use the same V6 for better weight distribution, concentrating on improving the F Sport’s handling. Central to this improvement is the Lexus Dynamic Handling System. This combination of rear wheel steering, variable ratio power steering and a retuned suspension gives the car controllable, balanced handling right up to the limit without a hint of understeer or oversteer. Although the computer control system is constantly making adjustments to keep the car in control, all that technology works so seamlessly that the driver will never feel like the computer is in control of the vehicle.