Review 2013 Lexus GS 350 FSport New and Used Car Reviews Research …

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Review: 2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

With its swoopy good looks, the Lexus GS 350 is something of a surprise from a company that never seems to have been comfortable with … .

But while the standard GS is definitely worth a look, the F-Sport version is an attempt by Lexus to quicken the pulse of buyers who have been known to barely have a pulse at all.

No, it s not a four-door Lexus LFA super car. But it is more intriguing than you might expect.

Throughout its life, the GS has long been one of the more appealing shapes in the Lexus lineup. A 2013 redesign brought with it new — and much-needed — focus.

The GS 350 starts with a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine featuring dual continuously variable valve timing with intelligence. Making 306 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 274 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm, it is a well-received powerplant that has been in everything from the ES, RX and the GS, as well as various Toyota automobiles and SUVs. The part we like most about this engine is the use of an Acoustic Control Induction System, which varies the length of the intake manifold, adding to the aural sensations coming from under the hood.

Power delivery goes to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport + and Snow modes.

Notably, no V8 engine is a part of the GS lineup any longer.

While the standard GS 350 features a double wishbone set with coil springs and gas-charged shocks in front and a multi-link kit with coils and gas shocks in the rear, the F-Sport package ($5,690) brings with it a multitude of other features which may not make the GS go faster but enable it to be a more responsive handler in the process.

Among these pieces is an adaptive variable suspension where the driver can adjust the grade of shock damping from normal to firm and sporty at the top of the selector dial. The kit includes staggered-sized front and rear 19-inch summer tires for enhanced grip, when the slush gremlins are gone. Yes, the GS can be had in an AWD version or a hybrid — albeit not as an F-Sport.

What s it up against?

The Lexus GS 350 F-Sport competes against some hallowed marques including the BMW 535i, Mercedes-Benz E350, Infiniti M37 and Audi A6, all of which offer some degree of additional sportiness as an option.

How does it look?

We can’t talk about contemporary Lexus automobiles without mentioning the proverbial elephant in the room: The rather polarizing spindle grille. Seemingly loved and hated at the same time, it brings to the table a more aggressive nature than any of its rivals.

Starting from the front end, LED daylight running lights give an otherworldly glow from a distance on approach. Aggressive intake vents do their part to cool the brakes on the F-Sport, an uprated kit with bigger rotors and high-friction brake pads.

A rear decklid spoiler does its part to calm the rear wind turbulence and even add a touch of downforce over the rear wheels. We do dig the smoked black alloy rims, which look rather badassed and manage to hide the dreaded brake dust at the same time.

In basketball parlance, that’s called one and the bonus, but we wonder just how dated these black wheels are going to look in a few years.

And on the inside?

Somewhat steampunk in its color palette, the GS F-Sport interior features enough black leather and soft touch material to outfit an SM pleasure emporium. Well-executed, multi-adjustable sport seats keep the front row occupants more than secure through the use of adjustable side bolsters and in the case of the driver’s seat, a power-adjustable thigh support.

But the best part was the ventilated seats, which managed to keep airflow circulating around the dorsal regions during these dog days of summer. These are some of the best air conditioned seats we ve ever encountered.

The center console features a 12.3-inch widescreen display for operation of the navigation, Bluetooth, audio, climate and systems controls, in conjunction with the Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI). Like a joystick, it allows users to point and click their desired functions.

Though feedback has been improved over the years, we still aren t fans of RTI since it requires drivers to take their eyes away from the road in order to operate the system. Not helping matters was a voice recognition system that seemed unwilling to listen to us.

Not all was lost inside the F-Sport. The rear seat offered more than sufficient legroom and comfortable seating for three, although it would probably not be a bad idea if the middle seat occupant were a child, due to the constrained headroom caused by the sloping fastback roofline of the car.

But does it go?


For two decades, Lexus vehicles have been known for the quiet, upright demeanor — with the exceptions of the LFA and IS-F.

Most of the time, the GS 350 F-Sport follows through with that program. But when the skinny pedal is squeezed, the 306-horsepower V6 spits forth with its lusty growl and suddenly it seems ready for prime time.

Unfortunately, this wanna-be big-boy is relegated to the children’s table — at least until the long-rumored GS F arrives. Mind you, the 3.5-liter direct injection V6 is as smooth and as powerful as most people need it to be, but it does not begin to compare with the 450-plus horsepower equipped BMW M5s, Audi S7s or Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs.

Lexus claims a top-speed on the GS F-Sport of 142 mph and zero to 60 times in the neighborhood of 5.7-seconds. The EPA piped up to say that at the same moment, this GS is capable of 19/28 mpg, with 23 mpg combined.

Instead of blistering acceleration, our tester offered smooth start-ups that got us where we needed to be, right quickly, whether it was an open spot two-car lengths ahead or just keeping pace in the fast lane. We found the six-speed automatic silky-smooth in its execution, never once hunting for a particular cog.

The electrically assisted, speed-sensitive power steering felt slightly artificial on-center but tightened up properly when progressing through a turn. Not a deal-breaker in the least, it was one we quickly warmed to and found ourselves forgetting it was a boosted system at all.

The adaptive suspension offered on-the-fly change-ups that seemed to compensate for all grades of road from smooth highways to undulating bridge surfaces to the patchwork that seems typical in the midst of road construction season. Clicking from normal on the rotary drive mode selector dial, to Sport mode saw an immediate throttle and transmission remap that revealed the true romping character that an F-Sport model should possess. Sport + upped the ante even more by firming up the suspension.

Taking the place of any sort of torque vectoring function, the GS Dynamic Handling System delivers a hint of rear wheel steering to help shorten the turning radius for a quick entrance to and exit from a hard turn.

Arguably the sportiest midsize luxury sedan on the market — at least for mortals not looking to drop around six figures on, say, an M5, the GS F-Sport is a remarkably complete package from a surprising source.

Lexus conservative tendencies remain in play with the GS350 F-Sport, but there s also a real hint of fun to be had.

But as good as the GS F-Sport is, the fact remains that only when a GS F hits the market will the GS range be allowed to sit at the big boy table.

2013 Lexus GS350 base price, $46,900. As tested, $60,349.

F-Sport package, $5,690; Blind Spot Monitoring System, $500; Head up display, $900; Mark Levinson Audio System, $1,380; Navigation, $1,735; Intuitive park assist, $500; Lexus Dynamic Handling package, $1,700; Cargo net, $64; Trunk mat, $105; Destination, $875.

Photos by Mark Elias.

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