2015 Lexus GS350 F-Sport test-drive

LOSES TWO CYLINDERS, GAINS FEROCITY

2015 GS350 F-Sport Brings A Scrap To German Rivals

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Lexus’ GS has always been the middle child of luxury sedans, fighting fiercely to be noticed in the crowded market of upscale mid-sizers headed up by Audi and BMW.  It’s been nobody’s fault but the GS’s own, though. When I think of Lexus’ best over the last 15 years, I think of the two LFA’s I burned up tracks with, not the test GS’s I went to Target or Chipotle in.

It’s a pleasure to publicly announce, therefore, that the 2015 GS is the best-looking, best-performing, funnest GS the company has ever produced, especially the fierce F-Sport tester I blasted all over the road with during a recent week’s test. It’s got an attitude-infested body from all angles, first, with a front end featuring extra-large air intakes, a more distinct lower valence design for its side skirts, an exhaust diffuser with added aero fins in the rear bumper and a lip spoiler on the deck lid. It’s a further pleasure to say their previous V-8’s have all been given the boot and the V-6 under my hood was the one responsible for rocketing me past slower drivers, jetting from a dead stop for the fun of it, and having a ball. The 3.5-liter rear-wheel drive engine produces 306 horsepower and 277 ft-lbs of torque mated to its eight-speed automatic transmission, and you feel it when you give it the gas.

Inside, classic analog gauges are a great retro touch, the steering wheel is nice and fat and red leather counters the few touches of plastic here and there. The infamous Lexus Remote Touch interface, controlling your climate, sound and navigation, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, only because it requires delicate fingers. 2015-Lexus-GS-350FSport INTYou can get used to it, but after programming while driving and having the pointer knocked to the side when I hit a bump more than once, I let the expletives fly. Fortunately you are not tethered to this wimpy square mouse; controls can be navigated in-dash, too, and the Voice Command works better than many I’ve tested.

The drive is loose, fun and versatile and a pleasure for sedate tooling as well as opening it up. Part of the reason for the GS’s newfound fluid driving style is in its improved 6-speed automatic’s lightning shifts, assisted by steering wheel-mounted paddles. You won’t miss the V-8, either. The car’s rear-wheel drive engine delivers almost identical performance and superior fuel economy to previous models —19 mpg city and 28 highway.

The extras are many and, as you might expect, push the price way up, but some particularly worth mentioning include the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. Integrated with the drive mode selector adjusting throttle response and transmission behavior with terms like “Eco”, “Normal”, and sport settings, the VDIM brings “sport-plus” to the wheel and adjusts suspension, steering, and stability control systems for aggressive motoring when you need it. If you bash anything, you’ll be grateful for Lexus Safety Connect which automatically summons assistance, and if someone pinches your ride, LSC will help track and find it.

It’s taken a few years, but the GS is all growed up and full of power, sport and swank. Bullseye, Lexus.

– Auto Gigolo

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