More taut than sport

Lexus took on the big Ger­man brands with build qual­ity but ri­vals have a lively edge

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car -

Look around you on the road and you’ll see heaps of Ben­zes, BMWs and Audis, stand­ing out with their dis­tinc­tive three­p­ointed star, blue-spin­ner and in­ter­linked ring badges.

By rights you should also see Lexuses but sadly they don’t stand out like the big three Ger­mans. This is ironic, given that Lexus, the Ja­panese pres­tige brand, was con­ceived to com­pete with the Ger­man lux­ury car brands if not beat them at their own game.

Lexus build qual­ity cer­tainly shook the Ger­mans up and obliged them to lift their game. They still dom­i­nate the lux­ury end of the mar­ket.

Lexus re­mains a bit player, held back by its close re­la­tion­ship with Toyota, the car for the com­mon man.

When new, the rear-wheel drive GS had the qual­i­ties nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with the Lexus brand — build qual­ity, re­fine­ment and com­fort — but it also brought a level of sporti­ness not pre­vi­ously as­so­ci­ated with the brand.

There were two six-cylin­der GS300s, the Sports and the Sports Lux­ury, and the V8 GS430.

In­side the well-ap­pointed cabin, the front seats were lux­u­ri­ously pro­por­tioned and padded, and there was plenty of travel for tall oc­cu­pants.

For rear ac­cess, you needed to duck a lit­tle to avoid hit­ting the coupe-like roofline and seat­ing could be tight if the front pas­sen­gers slid their seats back. Tall pas­sen­gers could find the head­room lim­ited.

The 3.0-litre V6 was a new, di­rect-in­jec­tion en­gine. It had plenty of torque across a broad rev range, which de­liv­ered great drive­abil­ity and miserly fuel con­sump­tion.

The 4.3-litre V8 was smooth, re­fined en­gine shared with the LS lux­ury sedan.

Both en­gines were used in con­junc­tion with smooth, seam­less six-speed se­quen­tial­shift au­to­mat­ics.

De­spite the at­tempt at sporti­ness, the GS came up short for some when mea­sured against ri­vals, but in com­fort and re­fine­ment terms the new model was streets ahead. In a used car, qual­ity is para­mount. A car that is well de­signed, en­gi­neered and well­built should give less trou­ble.

This is where the GS300/ GS430 — de­signed and en­gi­neered to the high­est stan­dards and built to a qual­ity level unseen be­fore — comes into its own. It still sur­passes Ger­man ri­vals even though the Ger­mans have im­proved in re­sponse to the com­pe­ti­tion.

As own­ers we have spo­ken to con­firm, you can buy a used GS300 or GS430 with con­fi­dence that it will give you good trou­ble free mo­tor­ing even af­ter ac­cu­mu­lat­ing quite high mileage.

The en­gines and trans­mis­sions are bul­let­proof, the chas­sis stands up well, and you’re hard-pressed to find a squeak or rat­tle in the body.

In­deed, if you do hear a squeak or rat­tle you should be sus­pi­cious that the car might have been in­volved in a crash.

Even though the GS300/ GS430 is a high qual­ity car you should still check for crash re­pairs, care­less driv­ing in the form of bumps and scrapes as well as a reg­u­lar ser­vice record.

I’ve been buy­ing Lexus cars, new and used, for more than 10 years. My lat­est is a 2011 GS300 Sports Lux­ury I bought with low kilo­me­tres. As with the oth­ers, this is a spec­tac­u­lar driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, it drives and han­dles with a sporty bias but is re­fined and com­fort­able, and to date ut­terly re­li­able.

The GS430 is all about driv­ing ex­cite­ment. It has a great bal­ance be­tween sporti­ness and com­fort but still works well for my fam­ily.

A fam­ily mem­ber has owned a Lexus GS300 for a num­ber of years and the only is­sue is a rat­tle from the dash. Every­thing else is great.

I am on to my sec­ond GS300, a 2009 Lux­ury Sports with 93,000km on the clock. I have had no me­chan­i­cal or elec­tri­cal prob­lems with either ve­hi­cle. The fin­ish in­side and out is first-class, the car is very com­fort­able, quiet, re­li­able and a joy to drive. On a coun­try trip, 7.5L/100km is the norm. My wife loves the car and would not have any­thing but a Lexus. Nei­ther would I. Very hard to beat if you want a quiet, re­fined and re­li­able used pres­tige car.

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