Nexus of hope

The fourth-gen­er­a­tion GS will make lux­ury buy­ers think twice

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

VALUE

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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

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