The 2013 Lexus GS 350 F sees a number of changes over the outgoing model, the chief among them is the reworked 3500cc engine which has been re-tuned for better mileage, while the suspension has seen a complete overhaul.
Other features in the new car are active rear steering, adjustable shock absorbers and 0.91g of grip.
2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Features
The car is very menacing to look at when viewed from the front and reason is the grille which is reminiscent of the alien in the Predator movie. But as you move to the side it becomes visually tame and as innocent looking as a Toyota Camry. But otherwise the car is very consistent in what it offers — a combination of enhanced looks and better handling.
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Looking at the front it might appear that the 350 F Sport will take up the fight with the BMW M5, but more appropriately it will be the 300hp BMW 535i which it squares off against.
The F Sport gets the upgraded engine — which produces 303hp — from the GS and isn’t that much altered which results in a 0-60mph dash in 5.5 seconds, while the mileage is 19mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway, which shows an improvement of 2mpg.
The time of 5.5seconds is fast if not sizzling and this is a rev hungry motor which excels on the road rather than on the race track, and this despite the missing seventh gear from the transmission.
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The area where the GS 350 F Sport excels is on twisty roads. Turn-ins are very accurate, thanks to rear steering, while there is no body roll and this is due to the firm suspension setting in the Sport+ mode, though the ride is slightly unsettled on the straights, and the car drifts nicely as you press the accelerator while coming out of a corner.
The active rear steering system is hi-tech and it steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels at lower speeds to make sharp cornering possible, while at higher speeds they turn slightly in the same direction as the front wheels to provide more stability to the car.
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According to Lexus the maximum angle at which the rear wheels turn is 2° and this offers better agility. But even without this system — its on the options list — the GS has much improved handling over its predecessor. Track at both the ends has been widened by about two inches; the suspension at the rear features a new multi-link; bigger bushings are fitted to the front and the whole suspension is made from aluminum and this helps in the lower un-sprung weight.
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The F Sport thicker ant-roll bars and more stiff springs, larger brakes and a variable-ration steering system. Tires are 235/40×19 at the front and 265/35×19 at the rear.
Variable damping is also on offer in the Sport+ mode and this feature controls the car’s motions and doesn’t let it roll while going in and out of turns at speed, but in this mode the ride gets slightly jiggly, though this mode is only for moments when you need a bit of amusement.
In the Sport+ mode the throttle response becomes more keener but you won’t notice it much because your teeth would be gritting due to the harsh ride which accompanies this mode.
The GS 350 has good visibility out of the front seats thanks to the thin A-pillars. The surfaces on the interior are made of rich materials with liberal doses of brushed aluminum. The center of the dashboard is dominated by a large 12.3” screen having high resolution. The immense width of the screen allows multiple displays.
The main portion is taken up by the navigation system, displaying maps, while on the smaller part, information regarding climate control or music system is provided. It is great not having to flip through different screens which is the norm in cars equipped with smaller screens. The displays in cars sold in the US are getting bigger and the image displayed is crystal clear.
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The seats are also immensely comfortable and can be adjusted in 12 different ways. Is there a weak point in the car? Not many. The steering is not weighted enough though it would have been great because a well-weighted steering would have complimented the sharp-handling chassis very well.
In the back seat there is plenty of legroom but the seats are a bit low, so the knees are higher than the butt, while the high rear-wheel-drive tunnel makes it a strict four-seater. The boot space increases by 25 per cent to 14.3 cu/ft but most of the space is taken over by the rear suspension.
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The Lexus GS 350 F Sport is large car which is as entertaining to drive as the BMW 5 series and does what is asked of it with aplomb. What it also does is try to woo customers who are entrenched in the BMW camp to come over this side. And that may be so easily accomplished.
The price of the car starts from $46,900 and goes up to $49,450.