Lexus GS saloon
Price £31,495 - £51,495
- Relaxing to drive, but also very fast
- Much more spacious than before
- Well equipped and economical
- Not as much fun as a BMW 5 Series
- CVT gearbox makes engine noisy
- No diesel and flagship is pricey
"The Lexus GS is a competent car, but it's up against very strong rivals from Mercedes, Audi and BMW."
The Lexus GS is a fresh start for Toyota's upmarket brand. Not content with its reputation for building luxurious, reliable and well equipped cars, Lexus now wants to inject a bit of excitement into its products, promising that all models will look more stylish and be more fun to drive than before.
The BMW 5 Series rival features a totally redesigned body with a sharp-looking front end boasting LED headlights and a neat grille. Under the skin, the completely new chassis features adaptive suspension and (on F Sport models) lots of gadgets to improve the handling.
On the engine front, Lexus has updated the GS 450h flagship hybrid version and brought in a new entry-level 208bhp 2.5-litre V6 petrol called the GS 250. There's still no diesel, though – Lexus says it'll try to compete with cars like the BMW 520d by offering an all-new small petrol hybrid at a later date.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Road tax costs have been heavily reduced
The jury is out on how much the GS will cost to run. Servicing and insurance will require deep pockets, while residual values don't match those of the in-demand Audi, BMW and Mercedes high-performance diesels. Another negative is that while Lexus claims the new GS 450h will return 47.8mpg (up from 36.7mpg), it can be hard to match that figure in everyday driving; hybrids have a reputation for disappointing fuel economy. However, the GS will be cheap to tax, as CO2 emissions have been slashed from 179g/km to just 137g/km.
Engines, drive & performance
Quiet on long motorway journeys
The old Lexus GS was very relaxing way to travel long distances, but it wasn't much fun to drive. Improved suspension promises to make this version a bit more sporty, while remaining stable at a high-speed cruise. The electric power steering system has more weight, while the adaptive dampers soak up bumps well. You can choose from Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ driving modes, which alter the response of the engine, steering and suspension, but regardless of the mode you select, the GS is still not as good to drive as a BMW 5 Series.
The Lexus GS F Sport has advanced technology including four-wheel steering and a variable-ratio steering rack, as well as a bodykit and 19-inch wheels. But while it's more agile than the standard GS and very impressive overall, it costs a whopping £74,000 – as much as the peerless BMW M5.
As for power, the 338bhp 3.5-litre V6 hybrid engine is very fast, getting the GS from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, and it's great at making hushed progress on the motorway. However, ask for lots of acceleration and the CVT automatic gearbox will keep the engine at high revs, sending a loud drone through the car as it speeds up.
Interior & comfort
Adaptive suspension allows the GS 450h to float over bumps and cushion occupants from rough roads like a luxury saloon should. Wind and road noise are almost completely shut out, too, so this is an ideal car for travelling long distances.
Thanks to an all-new interior and a slight increase in size (the GS is 20mm wider and 30mm taller than before), there's lots of room inside. The driver sits lower down and there's more headroom, so rear-seat passengers will be very comfortable, too.
The cabin is also more logically laid-out than before – the old car simply had too many buttons, which made it confusing to operate. In the current GS, the layout is much simpler, with most of the car's functions controlled via a large eight-inch screen in the dashboard.
Practicality & boot space
Available as a saloon only
Lexus has made some huge leaps forward in this area. The old GS 450h had a small boot, as the hybrid batteries were located under the floor. They've now been moved to behind the rear seats, so luggage space has increased by a massive 60% to 480 litres. There's only one bodystyle, though – a four-door saloon. If you want a large estate in this class, your options are the Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring or Mercedes E-Class Estate
Reliability & safety
Fantastic quality interior
The Lexus GS has an excellent reputation for reliability, but should you be unfortunate to have a problem, customer satisfaction surveys have shown that Lexus dealers are among the best in the business when it comes to dealing with faults. They solve issues extremely quickly and return your car cleaned inside and out. What's more, the GS has an extremely high-quality interior, featuring soft leathers, machined metals and beautiful bamboo wood.
Price, value for money & options
Loaded with equipment
Lexus has always been extremely generous with standard equipment, and the latest GS is no different. Although the GS 450h starts from around £50,000, it's absolutely loaded with kit, including four-zone climate control, Bluetooth phone connectivity, leather upholstery, sat nav and an MP3 player port. The options list features a 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, adaptive headlights and blind-spot monitoring. The GS is also available with adaptive cruise control (which keeps a safe distance from the car in front) and lane-departure warning.