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2013 Lexus GS350 AWD/GS350 F Sport Review
The Lexus GS made its first appearance nearly 20 years back and it has always been touted as sports sedan but it hasn’t delivered on this front, till now.
Three generations later, the sporty GS has finally arrived and our initial impression, after pitting it against the Audi A6, has been positive. In this article we will take a look at two more GS variants to find out if this sportiness percolates to these models too.
The car which went up against the A6 was a rear-wheel-drive GS350, so here we test the all-wheel-drive GS350 and rear-wheel-drive version in F Sport clothes. The GS450h hybrid makes a return this year but the V8 GS460 has been discontinued.
2013 Lexus GS350 AWD/GS350 F Sport Features
All GS350 models have the same 3500cc V6 engine belting out 306hp and 277lb/ft of torque, which is 3hp and 3lb/ft more than the 2011 version. There are three driving modes — eco, normal and sport — which change the transmission and throttle reaction. Both cars had the optional Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management setup which added another mode — sport+.
Photo Credit: Autostesztek.com/autoskepek/lexus/2013_lexus_gs_350_f_sport
In this mode, the adaptive suspension, steering setup and stability control are set-up more aggressively. Fitted with larger anti-roll bars, stronger springs, reworked bushings and summer tires, the F Sport has rear-wheel steering on the optional list and it adds up to 2° of input to the rear tires.
The AWD GS350, which weighs nearly 4000lbs, accelerates from 0-60mph in a time of 5.5 seconds which is respectable by any yardstick. The rear-wheel-drive and lighter by 133lb GS350 F Sport does it in 5.4 seconds. It was also faster to the quarter-mile by 0.3 seconds and 2mph than the AWD version at 14.2 seconds and 103mph.
More importantly, both these models have performance which compares with the GS460, which had 36hp and 62lb/ft more. This swiftness places the GS350 on the same pedestal as the BMW 535i (5.4seconds) and the Infiniti M37 (5.5seconds). The Audi A6 did the 0-60mph run in just 5 seconds.
Photo Credit: Autohotest.com/11093/2013-lexus-gs-sport-package-review/lexus-gs-f-sport-2013-front/
So, it isn’t surprising the V8 has been discontinued. The RWD GS350 F Sport’s performance is identical to the V8′s while the fuel economy is superior — 19mpg (city) and 28mpg (highway) compared to the figures of 17mpg and 24mpg for the GS460.
The AWD GS350 has a EPA rating of 19mpg/26mpg, which is 1mpg superior to the outgoing model’s. Driving the car enthusiastically and in the Sport+ mode resulted in the overall fuel economy figure of 19mpg for both cars.
What the figures don’t tell are the V6 engine’s new-found enthusiasm. This is not because of the output increase, which is modest, but is credited to the improvement made in the shift action on the 6-speed automatic transmission and paddle shift which is now standard.
The new found character coupled with the delightful sound made by the exhaust hasn’t been seen this side of the LFA supersports car — which costs nearly $400,000 — anytime before in the history of Lexus.
What the test also revealed was how both cars handled in a similar fashion. Both the GS350 AWD/GS350 F Sport had a planted feel which is nothing like the ‘floating on the road’ feel of previous Lexus’.
The GS350 AWD scored 0.87g on the skidpad and it was bettered by the F Sport with a figure of 0.89g. The braking performance was good too and credit for this goes to the grippy tires and large 14” rotors on the front wheels of the RWD F Sports. This makes it stop in a distance of just 160 feet from 70mph, compared to AWD’s 165 feet.
Photo Credit: Europecarnews.com/2011/11/lexus-gs-350-f-sport-video-and-pictures-after-semas-debut/
What mars the experience a bit is the devoid-of-feel electric steering system on both cars though the steering response is quick. Despite the few shortcomings, both cars score high in the handling department, have impressive retardation and the powertrain is scintillating.
Also appreciated is how the base model and the slightly more stiffer F Sport don’t let bumps on the road unduly disturb the occupants though it doesn’t totally cut off the communication from the road surface, which is good if you like seat-of-the-pants driving.
The cabins of both the GS cars are very comfortable and lavishly equipped. On the F Sport, perforated leather upholstery can be had either in black or red color and trim finished in aluminum. Then there is the 16-way-power-adjustable front seats with side bolsters, which can be inflated.
Photo Credit: Emotorauto.com/2011/10/26/2013-lexus-gs-350-f-sport-announced/2013-lexus-gs-f-sport-2/
The AWD model is equipped with semi-aniline leather, 18-way-power-adjustable front seats, climate control buttons for rear seat passengers, steering wheel made of wood and covered with leather and sunshades at the rear.
What is not impressive is the below-par quality of the plastic mimicking metal on the dashboard, steering and doors. There is an undesirable gaping hole, which houses the optional 12.3” screen for the navigation and infotainment system.
2013 Lexus GS350 AWD/GS350 F Sport Price
The price of the RWD base model GS350 remains the same as it was in 2011: $47,800; while there is an increase of $600 in the price of the AWD model over last year’s model and it is now available for $50,330.
The RWD GS350 on test here cost $60,190 and this included optional equipment like F Sport package ($5700); rear steering; navigation system with the display screen ($1740); high end Mark Levinson music system ($1400); and the premium package ($1395) which includes automatic wipers, heated/ventilated front seats and powered sunshades.
The AWD GS350 at $59,950 isn’t cheap either. It has all the above options barring the F Sport package and rear steering. Additionally, it has the following stuff: pre-collision set-up and radar guided cruise control ($1995); head-up display ($890); 18” wheels ($870); lane-keep assistance ($510); and cold weather package ($350)
Which includes: heated steering wheel; headlight washer; deicer for the wipers; and water-repelling front door glass. Both cars are expensive but they are good value for money when compared to other luxury cars in this segment, especially the German rivals.
Both the GS350 AWD and GS350 F Sport are very close when it comes to character. The buyers will most likely be attracted to the styling and equipment on offer rather than the performance.
The extrovert buyers will certainly check out the racier-looking F Sport and the more conservative folk will be more than happy to select the milder GS350. Both ways, there is more to like in these cars than in any previous generation of the GS350. And no tears are likely to be shed at the demise of the V8.