Lexus continue to make inroads into the luxury car market, against established players from Germany, England, and Italy. Spread across sedan and SUV vehicles, Lexus pitch the GS sedan range right into the middle of their models, including the “entry level” $83K plus GS 200-t. A Wheel Thing was thrown the keyfob to a blue metallic painted version, with a sumptuous black and cream interior, for a week.The centerpieces of the car are the turbo four cylinder engine (180 kW and 350 Nm, 5800 and 1650 rpm peak) and the drive system. It’s a seven speed auto, with F1 style paddles inside, along with a dial for Eco, Normal and Sport. Although there’s more than suitable response in Eco, it’s in Sport, unsurprisingly, where the GS 200-t really sings. From a standstill, it’s a “seat of the pants” six seconds to 100 kmh, with the official figure being 7.3 seconds. There’s a touch of hesitation, turbo lag, from stand still, with silky smooth, almost double clutch auto shifts, with a barely audible but perceptible sound from the transmission as it does so.It’s so good it almost makes the paddles redundant…almost. There were times when they were needed to get the transmission to change ratios, from fifth to six to seventh, plus there’s always the fun factor of being involved in telling the gearbox what to do. Having said that, it’s still not a fully manually operated device, changing up or down irrespective of the driver using the paddles when in Sport mode.
Economy wise, with mostly around town driving, A Wheel Thing finished on a reasonable 8.2L of 95RON gogo juice consumed per 100 kilometres. That’s from a 66 litre tank and up against Lexus’ own consumption figures of 8.0L per 100 km for a combined cycle.It’s certainly one of the nicer workplaces to be in. From the powered steering column adjustment, to the DAB enabled radio tuner, analogue clock, and four auto up/down windows, the heated and vented electric seats support and cosset the driver and passenger up front whilst rear seat passengers get a ski-port, with built in cup holders, accessing the boot. The dash itself sports a leather look with stitching, with the ergonomic mistake of placing the trip meter buttons down out of sight, behind the steering wheel near the driver’s right knee. Not a major issues in the greater context of a single driver usage, but pointless when it could and should have been incorporated into the onboard and dash displayed information and considering the sensible placement of the Start/Stop button to the left of the driver’s eyeline.That information in the dash is accessed via a four way tab system on the tiller’s right spoke, with a graph displaying turbo pressure and G forces adding to the sporting flavor of the GS 200-t. The dials are mechanical, with a hue of metallic grey. It complemented the interior trim and certainly adds class. Of course there’s Bluetooth streaming, auxiliary inputs via USB and 3.5mm plug as well. All of these plus climate control, apps etc are accessed via the centre console mouse and Enter pad, with the mouse centreing itself when the Stop button is pressed.
It’s devilishly simple to use and has the added touch of being the only way to make the climate control a dual or single zone operation, as there’s no button apparent otherwise. The numbers in the temperature displays roll up or down as they change, as opposed to simply changing as you press the red or blue tabs. Simple and elegant, it adds to the cabin ambience. What doesn’t is the placement of the heating and venting controls for the seats, stuck at the bottom of the centre stack and ahead of the fold up lid for two drinks holders. It’s an awkward placement and not in step with the rest of the layout for the supplementary controls.
There’s plenty of space inside, with rear seat passengers (two abreast) having plenty of leg, head and shoulder room, however do miss out on the independent climate controls found further up the range. That space extends to the boot, complete with full sized spare, allowing a family to utilise the flat floored cargo space’s 520 litres sufficiently well.
What the GS 200-t doesn’t miss out on are the driver aids, such as lane keeping alert, blind sport alert, forward collision alert and reverse camera with lane assist. There’s a full suite of airbags and electronic assistance such as Traction Control, of course, but it’s both rarely needed and felt. Lexus have dialed in some fun, allowing the GS 200-t to skip around at the rear in certain turns and corners and also on a good launch.Never, though, do you feel as if there’s something untoward about to happen, such is the balance and response of the car. There’s the transfer from front to rear as you accelerate, the hunkering down of the body at speed as the aero plays its part, the gentle roll as a turn is encountered and the slight nose down attitude under brakes. The stoppers themselves are sensibly calibrated, with the pedal requiring only a slight push before you know there’s pad on disc. Once biting, there’s a smooth progression through the pedal and will haul up the 1745 kilo machine precisely.There’s also that sense of precision in the ride and road holding. There’s confidence in the chassis, a fluidity in the way it absorbs bumps and irregularities, whilst turn in is sharp and provides minimal understeer through the slightly numb on centre steering. Nor was there noticeable oversteer once the foot was lifted from a turn and accelerate move on a dry road, it was more unsetted or broken up surfaces where the rear would skip gently.
The exterior is long, lithe, showcasing the blue in some light as almost black. The recent redesign may not appeal to some, especially with the trapezoidal grille and separate L shaped LED driving lights sitting above the rounded lower section of the front bumper and below the more traditional halogen lamps, compared to the GS 450H’s LED setup. At the rear, there’s twin exits for the exhaust, integrated into the rear bumper.It’s a look that has grown in appeal as far as A Wheel Thing is concerned. Rubber is 225/50 wrapping 17 inch alloy wheels in a design that’s neither pretty nor offensive, but rather more middle of the road in appeal. Bear in mind, of course, the 200-t is the entry level to the GS range.Warranty wise, it’s four years or 100000 kilometres, whichever the driver completes first, with servicing at every 15000 kilometres. Lexus do offer a fixed price service structure but it would be nice to see the warranty increased to five years to suit the level of quality you get when purchasing one.
At the End Of The Drive.
It’s a larger car than the Lexus IS range, the GS and comes in three trim levels (Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury) and is therefore plugged fairly and squarely into the battlefront filled with A6, E-Class, 5 Series, XF Jaguar style vehicles. It’s well finished, drives beautifully, has good economy for the engine and weight and certainly comes well equipped to kick things off.
Yes, that front end design may raise an eyebrow but that’s in opposition to everything else you’ll get for your hard earned. Consider the handling, the amount of room in the GS, for starters, and the appeal it will have to a buyer that doesn’t wish to be seen as mainstream, and then the whole package suddenly becomes much more appealing.
Head over to Lexus GS for further information.