2006 Lexus GS300 Test drive and new car review 2006 Lexus GS300

14 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2006 Lexus GS300 Test drive and new car review 2006 Lexus GS300 отключены
Lexus Electric Cars

The car is great, but the driver comes up short

Lexus reminds me of a speedy greyhound trying to catch that elusive rabbit at the races. No matter how hard the dog runs, the rabbit always wins. In this case the target was BMW’s 5-Series, which everyone in the industry sets as their benchmark. Give it up, Lexus.

Your GS is a wonderful automobile but it’s a different kind of automobile, no matter how you try to disguise it with sports sedan performance. You’re in the wrong race. Our test vehicle was a GS300 AWD, starting at $45,500.

First Glance

I knew who was in charge when approaching the GS at Toyota’s media garage and it wasn’t me. Simply by carrying a transmitter in my pocket I could open the door without a key and start the engine by pushing a button. Technology would be the master; a scary thought when parked with 500 other vehicles waiting to board a ferry to Vancouver Island.

What if the invisible key doesn’t work or I make a mistake and the engine won’t start? Imagine the ire of drivers terrified of missing the boat because a white-haired jerk in a fancy vehicle with Ontario plates (Ontario being some 3000 miles east of here) can’t start his car! Luckily the Lexus wizard performed as promised and the only remaining fear was what would happen if nobody could get off the boat due to the same lunkhead’s incompetence.

Which is why I was deep in the bowels of the ship studying the owner’s manual while others above me were enjoying the delicious Pacific Buffet or admiring the Gulf Islands.

Still, with an hour to kill prior to sailing, I’d stood and noted the GS’ curvaceous shape; particularly that classic fastback roofline. On disembarking the car started as hoped and with 245 hp on tap my fellow ferry passengers saw nothing but fast-disappearing taillights.

In the Driver’s Seat

2006 Lexus GS300 Interior

Philip Powell

Help, I’m shrinking! I was a 6-footer when I got into this car and now I can barely see out!

Raise the seat? Fine, but I still feel like one of those little old ladies who sits on a telephone book to peer over the wheel. Thankfully I wasn’t turning into an elf; I was merely the victim of contemporary design where high sills and raised cowls combine with low floors to make the driver feel as though he’s sunk into a bowl.

At least it’s a luxurious, leather-lined bowl. Fine wood, quality materials and superb fit put the Lexus GS on the same level as Audi’s much-praised interiors. Part of the simplicity it exhibits is misleading, though.

Instead of a mass of buttons and switches on the panel, the touch-sensitive display screen must be used for some, which can be distracting. Additional switches are on a hard-to-see panel that drops out of the lower left of the dash on touching a button, more are under the slide-back console armrest, and several are overhead.

Such is the price of technology, where we’re given the toys to play with but no safe way to access them. Too bad, because otherwise the interior is comfortable and suited to driving quickly. Back seat passengers will find legroom adequate, headroom tight.

On the Road

Lexus Electric Cars

In automotive lexicology, GS stands for Gran Sport; Grand if you prefer. Such symbols are often glued to vehicles with little justification but in this case the GS badge is well-deserved, the Lexus GS300 being grand and somewhat sporting. Rival BMW, however, emphasises sport and that’s why the GS ranks as a different type of vehicle.

Nevertheless it is enjoyable to drive. The new, 3-liter 245 hp V-6 has plenty of passing power and the close-ratio 6-speed automatic is so seamless in operation you’ll have to pay attention to the rev counter to sense gear changes. It includes a gated shifter and a manual sequential gear changer, although as always when testing a vehicle with a manual-automatic, I made little use of it.

Where the GS300 differs greatly from most of its competitors is the option of all-wheel-drive. As a result the car corners superbly, leaning just slightly as it enters a turn, remaining stable through the exit. The rather heavy steering’s moderately quick, has some road feel, yet doesn’t provide enough connection with mind and body to satisfy an enthusiast driver. More grand than sport.

For most people, that’s enough.

Journey’s End

Lexus GS Fastback Roofline

Philip Powell

It’s difficult not to admire a car that opens its door for you and raises and lowers the steering wheel whenever you slide in or out. Even harder when it informs that all systems are being checked prior to driving away. And when that car has been elegantly shaped with voluptuous curves, one could easily fall in love.

On the other hand, when the GS300 and I hit the road, romance goes into sixth gear. She’s a sweetheart through the curves, accelerates and stops like a ballroom dancer. Called upon to make a buyer’s decision, I would say that if you appreciate the finesse of a sports sedan but put luxury first, this is your car. Unless you’re a person of short stature.

In which case, bring a phone book or two.

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