Nexus of hope
The fourth-generation GS will make luxury buyers think twice
No one at Lexus is talking about prices yet, partly because the car is still more than four months from Australian roads and partly because the company does not want to alert its German rivals to its plans.
It’s fair to expect a pricing spread from just below $70,000 (for the GS250 that’s still to be confirmed for Australia) to $79,990 for the cooking-model GS350, to about $115,000 for the GS450H.
The bottom line means good value, as even an $80,000 price tag will really stick it TOBMW and Benz and there is a lot to like in a list of standard equipment that includes great leather and aircon, brilliant Mark Levinson sound, the usual alloys and a giant colour display screen in the dash— it’s just a pity that the need to please Americans with the world’s biggest display has cost the rest of the world an eightspeed automatic gearbox.
The price picture is still pretty muddled and there is a lot of extra equipment on cars at the world press preview, including night vision, a drivedrowsiness alert, and the optional sports package with rear-wheel steering.
But Lexus Australia promises a big marketing effort with the new GS.
‘‘ We currently sell about seven GSS a month. We’re aiming for 50,’’ says marketing boss Peter Evans. And there is room to move. ‘‘ The two big guys (Benz and BMW) do about 150 a month,’’ Evans concedes.
Work on the GS has produced a long list of innovations, including what Lexus claims as four world firsts. They are a variable driving mode system and, in the hybrid, a 3.5-litre V6 that uses an Atkinson combustion cycle, a ‘‘ stacked’’ battery pack and dynamic rear steering. The airconditioning even uses nanotechnology to clean, filter and ionise the air.
In Lexus style, technology changes go on and on, covering everything from powertrain to safety and comfort. There is a lot to like, although it’s not always easy to understand.
All the fuss about the new-look GS is centred on its grille, which takes Lexus in a new direction. It’s a lot like Darth Vader’s helmet and gives the car a strong presence in traffic. Sadly, it’s not matched by a tail end that looks more like a Kia.
The cabin, though, is great. The look is upmarket but still a bit youthful. It’s good to see an old-school analog clock in the dash— always a favourite with one-time Ford boss Jac Nasser — and the colour display works a treat. Lexus has also upgraded the materials in the car and that’s lifted it away from the ‘‘ so-what’’ look and
feel of the previous GS models.
The fourth-generation GS is certain to be a five-star ANCAP car and also has the usual suite of safety stuff you expect on an $80,000 car.
There are no fewer than 10 airbags, including knee protection, and a blind-spot monitor, tyre pressure monitor, drowsiness warning and precollision safety protection.
It will be interesting to see how much of the safety gear makes it to Australia and how much is on the starter car. Still, the GS package includes a lot of Lexus firsts.
So, it’s Take Two for the Lexus GS. The big difference this time
Front and centre: The grill and nose of the GS take Lexus in a new direction