Lexus pulled the covers off the all-new GS 350 at this week’s Johannesburg International Motor Show. Set for introduction in 2012 the new GS combines bold, dynamic styling, precise handling, innovative technology, and a spacious interior.
The fourth-generation GS has been completely redesigned, inside and out, and will feature the brand’s evolving design philosophy, with styling cues such as a distinctive new front grille that will become integrated into future Lexus vehicles. The new GS will also lead the rest of the Lexus line-up in an entirely new direction of driving dynamics.
Along with a new Lexus signature spindle grille, the GS is a car that conveys a tangible sense of driver confidence, with a redesigned chassis and a wide, strong stance that inspires and rewards driver participation with crisp and precise handling.
GS engineers challenged themselves to develop a more spacious interior environment. While leaving exterior dimensions virtually unchanged, they dramatically increased cabin and boot space to create an interior that can easily transport passengers and their luggage in luxury and style, regardless of distance.
Richly endowed with world-class features and premium details, the new GS is supported by advanced, performance-enhancing technology that makes it more than just a luxury car. The driver and front passenger will enjoy the clean appearance of the new high-resolution central control display.
A New Personality and An Invitation To Drive
Designing the new GS 350 to be both strong and agile was a key focus of the engineering team. They looked to the Lexus LFA supercar for inspiration and carried over some key elements to provide a more engaging driving experience, including a new aerodynamic body; a completely new platform with a wider stance and stiffer structure; a transmission with quicker shifts; distinctive engine sound and exhaust notes; and better seat support.
The new platform is more rigid compared to the current model. Engineers conducted extensive platform testing, ultimately increasing the number of spot welds and adding laser welds in very specific locations. The track, wider by almost two inches, works in combination with a revised suspension design to assure a more solid stance and superior cornering performance.
The new suspension system is designed to help guide the GS through corners with precision. In the front, upper and lower control arms are made from aluminium and employ larger bushings. The rear sub-frame has been completely redesigned to accommodate an all-new multi-link rear suspension, using improved suspension geometry that retains tyre cornering force and enhances rear control. With the stiffer platform and lighter components, the shocks can use lighter-viscosity oil, so they move easily and respond to small inputs more quickly.
The use of front and rear aluminium control arms helps reduce unsprung weight and results in significant improvements in agility, roll damping, ride comfort, body control and steering precision. Overall, the suspension is lighter and stronger, allowing it to react to driver input readily, and ride quietly without harshness. Ventilated disc brakes featuring four-piston aluminium front callipers are endowed with the latest electronic enhancements to help provide braking balance and control.
Customised Driving Experience
The new GS is powered by an advanced quad cam 3.5-litre V6, featuring four valves per cylinder with dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). Producing 233kWit accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds.
Improved engine sound characteristics complement the bolder, more energetic personality of the new GS. The six-speed sequential shift automatic transmission has paddle shifters and sport driving functions as standard equipment.
The transmission incorporates many features adopted from the Lexus IS-F — including faster shifts, earlier torque converter lockup and downshift throttle blips — to support four driving modes that can be operated by toggling the new Lexus Drive Mode selector. In addition to the Normal mode, the following settings let the driver customize the driving experience:
• ECO mode revises throttle mapping, seat heating, and climate control systems for better fuel economy. In ECO mode, meter lighting changes to blue.
• SPORT mode revises throttle mapping and transmission shifting priorities to fully exploit the capabilities of the powertrain. In SPORT mode, meter lighting changes to red.
• SPORT+ mode (available on some models) engages handling enhancements via a sport setting of the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), steering system, and vehicle stability control (VSC) together with the powertrain enhancements of SPORT mode.
F-Sport Package ads a performance edge
Lexus’ performance vehicles have been designed to capture the spirit of Fuji Speedway – Japan’s home of Formula One racing. F-Sport models hint at the performances credentials perfected in the LFA, through their enhanced styling details and superior suspension and dynamic characteristics.
The GS F-Sport features Lexus’ first A-4WS system ensuring excellent dynamic performance with ride comfort that exceeds customer expectations. This A-4WS system integrates the control of the VGRS (Variable Gear Ratio Steering), and newly developed ARS (Active Rear Steering) systems, calculates the optimum angle for the four wheels based on information such as vehicle behavior and the amount the driver has turned the steering wheel and actively adjusts the steering wheel angle. The system provides an ideal steering response based on vehicle speed and constantly ensures stable vehicle behavior to provide the joy of operating the vehicle at will, at any given speed. A-4WS increases agility and cornering stability.
The GS F-Sport features custom equipment for the interior and exterior ensuring a more aggressive and sporty look. The exterior design is characterised by a F-Sport emblem, exclusive front grille, bumper and rear spoiler that clearly establish the distinct identity of the F-Sport. Specially designed 19-inch aluminum wheels inherit the design DNA of the LFA. The F-Sport interior is distinguished by its 16-way sports seats, aluminum pedals and scuff plates, dimpled leather covered steering wheel and shift knob. The sporty character is further enhanced by incorporating aluminium trim . The design gives the F-Sport a distinct identity that is recognisable at one glance and powerfully projects the vehicle’s exceptional dynamic performance.
Innovative Lexus Design
The GS expresses a new generation of Lexus’ design philosophy with its precisely sculpted exterior. When designers shaped the GS they visualised the flow of air around it and, like the LFA supercar, maximised aerodynamic efficiency for a class-leading coefficient of drag.
The GS fuses distinctive style with engineering functionality. Fins incorporated into the side of the tail lights and the design of the boot area all help direct air over and past the car. The rear bumper underbody area was designed for reduced wind resistance to help keep the car firmly planted on the ground. Finally, air inlets located on the outer edges of the lower grille serve as cooling ducts.
The signature spindle grille with its trapezoidal contours evolved from current Lexus styling and fully integrates into the aggressive front bumper allowing for efficient airflow. This distinctive Lexus design feature combined with the deep-set, high-tech headlamps and L-shaped LED daytime running lamps further express the vehicle’s confident and dynamic character. The headlamps use a projector beam design, adding a strong, chiselled appearance and excellent illumination.
From the side, the GS projects the image of a spacious sport sedan with a road-hugging wider stance. The tapered lower rocker panel and the short front overhang give the vehicle a sense of motion. Width-enhancing front and rear wheel arches add an athletic stance enhancing the vehicle’s dynamic presence.
The rear bumper features a distinctive exhaust diffuser and centred aero fins to help control underbody airflow. Combined with the L-shaped LED tail lamps these rear bumper features lend a high-performance appearance.
Spacious Interior with Premium Upgrades
The GS provides more overall space for all occupants. With these changes, the new GS offers comfortable space for front and rear passengers.
Upgraded accommodations start with the driver. The entire cabin was created around the driver and the driving experience. A horizontal-themed instrument panel emphasises the spaciousness through its wide layout. A redesigned seat frame and changes to steering column architecture enable an improved driver seating position for increased comfort, better forward visibility and overall command of the road. Equal attention has been paid to maximising space for rear passengers, adding head-, leg-, knee-room and improved foot space compared to the current generation GS.
A new energy-saving automatic climate control system called S-Flow uses the occupant-detection system to focus airflow only to the front area where passengers are actually seated, a world-first technology. A next-generation Remote Touch with one-push confirmation enables smooth, intuitive operation.
The second generation Remote Touch Interface allows the user to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, navigation system and more. For new GS, the Remote Touch system was improved to provide . The screen menus are selected with the controller, eliminating the need to reach out. Remote Touch also reduces eye movement and helps users operate functions with reduced effort and distraction. A standard reverse camera helps add security and convenience.
High quality interior trim finishes add to the luxury and sophisticated character of the GS. The instrument binnacle is covered in premium, precision stitched leather whilst soft-touch knee support panels add to driver comfort and create a premium feel.
Next-generation Lexus multimedia brings a host of exciting entertainment and connectivity enhancements, including enhanced Bluetooth® capability with automatic phonebook download and streaming audio.*
An industry-first 12.3-inch, split-screen, high-resolution multi-media display has been designed for the GS. The split-screen ultra-large display enhances visibility through the use of advanced, high-definition graphics that are easy to read and easy to use. The 12.3-inch screen is large enough to support simultaneous, split-screen viewing of a large map display, plus audio, climate or other vehicle information.
A 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is available. The system provides 7.1 Surround Sound through 10 channels using a new class D Digital amplifier and luxury-first Green Edge™ speakers that are lighter, more energy-efficient and have less distortion. The new system produces almost three times as many watts per channel over the previous generation.
Integrated Safety Systems
In addition to enhanced braking systems and an impact-absorbing body structure, the new GS offers significant advances in both passive and active safety systems.
There are a class-leading 10 airbags in the new GS, including a knee airbag for both front driver and passenger. Rear seat occupants have seat-mounted side airbags, and all four outboard occupants are equipped with side curtain airbags. Standard seatbelts with pretensioners with force limiters used for front and outboard rear seats further assist occupant protection.
The new GS is set to lead Lexus in an exciting new direction. Buyers in the mid-size luxury segment want a more engaging driving experience, styling that makes a statement, and a roomier interior package. The new Lexus GS fulfils these requirements giving the customer everything they desire and more.
* The model line up and final specification destined for SA will be communicated closer to launch in the first half of 2012.