2017 Lexus GS Saloon - Review

by under Review on 06 Mar 2017 07:24:11 PM06 Mar 2017
2017 LEXUS GS200T
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
NaNL - NaNL/100km

• Distinctive styling. • Very refined. • Turbo-petrol is a hoot.


• Pricey (but packs kit). • That infotainment system. • No diesel.

The Lexus GS turns it up a notch, and finally puts itself in contention with the German mainstream. 

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Lexus has always been a bit far left of centre. If you’ve ever been on the market for a premium saloon, you might’ve walked into a Lexus dealership, flicked through a few brochures, and then gone off to buy something German. It’s the route of so many consumers in this segment, because despite its best efforts, Lexus cars always fell just a little short of clinching the deal. Unless you’re a fleet buyer, in which case you’d take six.

The Lexus formula has always appealed best to the North American market, with their thirst for big engines and little regard to fuel economy. As a result, sales figures elsewhere never really matched up, especially as they refused to buck to the downsizing trend. They never really caved to the diesel trend either, arguing that hybrids made more sense (though the markets never really agreed). However, it seems that a lightbulb went of at Lexus recently, and they’ve taken their newfound logic to the latest GS

Not only is it better to look at, but it promises a better drive and better kit to boot. Still bereft of a diesel, the hybrids are now more sensible and more powerful, and there’s even a turbocharged four-pot available. Can the Lexus GS finally be a worthy adversary against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series, while also serving it up to the Jaguar XF and Audi A6?


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“The redesign has worked well, and while the GS isn't as handsome as the latest Jaguar XF it's certainly a stylish car.” - AutoExpress

In their relentless pursuit of reinvention, Lexus has taken its traditional design ethos and thrown it out the window. The entire Lexus range is now angular, aggressive, and bold, and the GS falls into the lineup perfectly. The spindle grille up front now protrudes further than before, and the F-Sport front bumper gives the big Lexus more aggression still. There is nary a straight line on the GS that isn’t interrupted with a sharp angle. If looks could kill, you’d be dead at 10 paces.

While even the Luxury trim models look imposing and smart, the F-Sport treatment dials everything up to eleven. F-Sport divides opinion though, so be sure to think long and hard if you’re willing to live with something quite so angular. 

Regardless of what trim level you go for, the GS will cut a very distinct suit in the corporate carpark amongst its more popular rival. So we don't recommend one of these to anyone who considers themselves a wallflower.

Engine & Drivetrain 

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“The 2.0-litre turbo engine not only makes the entry-level GS more powerful and quicker than before, it’s also lighter than the old six, and that means that the front-end feels more nimble around corners.” - CarAdvice

The GS range was updated in 2016 to make way for a new base model, though its position as one half of the bookend shouldn't detract from its sheer ability. With 180kW an 350Nm on tap from the 2.0-litre four-pot under the bonnet, drivers likely won’t be missing the atmo 2.5-litre V6 that used to inhabit the base position. An eight-speed automatic puts power down to the rear wheels, and provides enough shove to propel the GS200t from rest to 100km/h in just 7.3-seconds while consuming a claimed 8.0L/100km. 

There’s only one other pure-petrol in the lineup, being the GS350. Quite a step up in price, the 3.5-litre atmo V6 is good for 232kW & 378Nm, with claimed fuel consumption at just 9.3L/100km. If efficiency ranks high on your list of priorities, the GS300h hybrid will likely be your pick, with 164kW & 521Nm on tap from the 2.5-litre petrol & electric engine combo. The transmission employed here is of the continously-variable (CVT) variety, as is the gearbox of choice for Lexus’ hybrids. The range-topper here (sans the GS-F, which we’ll cover in a separate review) is the GS450h, combining a 3.5-litre petrol V6 with an electric motor to produce 254kW & 312Nm, while offering a claimed fuel consumption figure of 6.3L/100km. 


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“While the bulk of the expansive switchgear is stylish and solid feeling, some is glaringly old-school. It’s the same with the cabin finish, which combines high-quality materials on most of the regular contact points with some hard plastics elsewhere.” - WhatCar?

As with the dramatic exterior, the cabin features architecture that can take your breath away. It doesn’t really revolutionise anything, but it presents itself in a way that is really beyond parallel. While older Lexus’ could have been accused of feeling like nothing more than a plush Toyota, modern Lexus motorcars, the GS especially, cannot be accused of such. 

There is decent room all round the cabin, and storage is rather generous too. Materials employed are plush and premium, and none of the usual contact points will leave you feeling wanting. Some of the switchgear, upon closer inspection, can look a little old hat. However, everything works as it should, and controls are logically laid out and are always at hand. It’s all very comfortable too, making long-distance cruising a joy. The cavernous boot also means that a driving holiday can easily be accommodated for.

What does detract from the experience somewhat are the counterintuitive controls for the infotainment system. Lexus has gone with an odd mouse-like control system that may look great in the showroom, but is surprisingly confusing to use. The iDrive systems in BMWs are much easier to interact with, as are the latest Audi MMI & Jaguar InControl Touch systems.

Behind the Wheel

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“The 2.0-litre turbo engine not only makes the entry-level GS more powerful and quicker than before, it’s also lighter than the old six, and that means that the front-end feels more nimble around corners.” - CarAdvice

With only a few exceptions, Lexus has never really been about driving dynamics or agility. Rather than take on BMW in a craft that it’s honed for years, Lexus preferred to tackle Mercedes-Benz in the war on comfort and luxury. But as Merc closed in on BMW territory, Lexus did too. The GS might not be the final word in laughs and giggles, it’s certainly a good effort, and a generational leap over the GS’ of old.  

While the hybrids still err on the side of pliancy, the petrol units are of special mention, particularly the turbocharged four-pot in the entry-level GS200t. The smaller, lighter engine makes for a more darty turn-in, and the steering wheel even has a little feel to it. It’s no 5-Series, but the GS is entirely capable of holding its own against the segment mainstream. The turbocharged 2.0-litre pairs well with the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and is capable in town and on the motorway. The naturally-aspirated GS350 is also a real hoot, though be prepared for more heady petrol bills.

The hybrids make the most sense if your commute is predominantly urban, and the GS300h is the most logical choice. The 2.5-litre petrol engine employed here is capable of hauling this big 2-tonne saloon on motorway cruises too, so it’s hardly incapable. It’s not a drivers’ car though, with the continuously-variable (CVT) gearbox pinning the revs high up in the range under heavy acceleration, but it’s docile and well-behaved at a cruise.

Safety & Technology

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“The Lexus GS boasts an array of advanced safety tech, and earns top "Good" ratings in most categories from the IIHS.” - The Car Connection

As with most Lexus motorcars, the GS offers an impressive list of standard equipment right from the get-go. All models come with autonomous emergency braking, 10-airbags, reversing camera with visual guidance, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision safety, lane keeping aid (with active steering intervention), and active cruise control. These active safety systems bode well for those who may be considering the GS as a motorway cruiser, or those who may be looking at this big Lexus as a fleet purchase. 

The technology you find dotted around the cabin can both excite and disappoint. The sound system (specifically the Mark Levinson system available on some models) really performs, and the virtual dials offer great graphics that harmonise well with the selected drive mode. The only real disappointments come in the form of the Lexus infotainment system, and the controls for it. The ‘responsive’ mouse-esque controller on the centre console isn’t the easiest to use, and the interface you interact with isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing. These issues shouldn’t be enough to turn you off the GS entirely, but it does make you think about the competition for a little longer than Lexus might like you to. 


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In the almost-30 years that Lexus has been around, it’s made huge changes to itself and the segments it competes in, and that is likely exemplified best with the GS saloon. When it first debuted, it looked like the Japanese had ripped off a period Mercedes-Benz E-Class; Today, the GS couldn’t be any more different from the competition in both appearance and personality. The GS is now more compelling than ever, and despite its lack of a diesel engine, it’s still very capable of putting up a good fight against the German establishment. 

Of the GS variants, we’d recommend the GS200t, the base model. Its entry-level positioning belies a very capable large executive saloon, and the 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder is one of the most remarkable additions to an already impressive contender. If you’ll be doing more long-distance cruising, the GS350 will likely be the best companion, while the hybrids are outdone somewhat by more progressive, more efficient plug-in hybrid offerings like the impending Volvo S90 T8, or the capable four-cylinder oil burners available in the BMW 520d and the Mercedes-Benz E220d.

Edmunds - 8/10- “Boasting a refined interior, plenty of high-tech features and class-competitive performance, the Lexus GS can go toe to toe with the historically strong competitors from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.”
Car & Driver - 8.0/10 - “The GS hopes you’ll look past its polarizing looks and consider it a sports sedan worthy of competing with the best from here and Germany.”
The Car Connection - 8.2/10 - “The Lexus GS F-Sport rivals the Germans for top-level handling, but hybrids and the turbo-four GS 200t pack fewer thrills.”
AutoExpress - 4.0/5.0 - “Low emissions, build quality, and a relaxed driving experience have long been major plus points for the Lexus GS, and now it looks good too. If you’re after a comfortable company car for commuting, the Lexus is definitely worth a look.”
WhatCar? - 3.0/5.0 - “The Lexus GS is quiet and comfortable, but it finds itself up against some strong competition.”
CarAdvice - 8.0/10 - “While it might lack the full-blooded punch of the hard-core GS F we drive in Spain last year, the GS 350 F Sport feels reassuringly familiar from behind the wheel.”
Autocar - 4.0/5.0 - "Lexus has added a dose of sportiness to its well-established GS recipe, but it is only there when you want it. This Jekyll and Hyde personality means there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a mid-size exec, the GS ought to be on your list.”
TopGear - 5.0/10 - "Latest standout Lexus GS is closer than ever to the class leaders - but the lack of diesel is puzzling."

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