New Car: 2013 Lexus GS

We’ve driven it and we’ve spied it, but this is the first time we’ve seen the 2013 Lexus GS 350 wearing nothing but its paint. Unveiled at an event before the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the 2013 GS 350 may not be quite the leap forward we were hoping it would be, but it promises to be a better contender than its oft-forgotten predecessor.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda promised as much during the car’s reveal, where he outlined the future direction of Lexus in addition to singing the praises of the GS. He said he was personally involved in the GS project and checked on its progress. “This car is amazing to drive,” Toyoda exclaimed, and also revealed that the car underwent extensive testing at Germany’s Nurburgring (what car doesn’t these days).

The Toyota CEO went on to say that the GS, which will go on sale next February, is just the first of nine new or revised Lexus cars coming in the next year, and that the Lexus organization was being revamped to be a completely autonomous division under his direction.

Under the hood, the 2013 GS 350 features the same 3.5-liter V-6 as the 2011 model but with a slight power bump to 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. It remains mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic gearbox in rear-drive or all-wheel drive configurations. Lexus claims a 0-60 mph time of around 5.7 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 142 mph. Two other GS models be unveiled by the time it hits dealer showrooms in early 2012 — a Hybrid, and an F-Sport. The Hybrid, which will be revealed at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show, is likely to retain the powertrain of the 2011 GS450h and Lexus released a teaser of photo a model bearing that name. The F-Sport, meanwhile, will feature the same engine as the regular GS 350 but with 19-inch wheels, sticky tires, bigger brakes, variable-rate steering, and an adaptive suspension. Lexus officials have indicated that the V-8 model will be dropped from the lineup.

Speaking of suspension and handling, the 2013 GS 350 will feature four selectable driving modes, two of which have sportiness in mind. In addition to “Standard” mode, the GS has an “ECO” mode that, Lexus says, “revises throttle mapping, seat heating, and climate control systems for better fuel economy.” The next mode is called “SPORT S,” which will increase throttle response, and change the transmission’s shift points to “fully exploit the capabilities of the powertrain.” The last mode, “SPORT S+” will only be available on certain models. “SPORT S+” starts with “SPORT S” and then firms up the suspension, tightens up steering, and remaps the stability control system to allow more aggressive driving.

The GS’ most prominent exterior feature are the twin blade-like chrome strips that flank the hourglass-shaped grille, which Lexus says is designed to improve aerodynamics and airflow. Bordering each side of the grille are two fully-functional air inlets that are used to cool the brakes, among other things.

Inside, Lexus mixes up the GS 350’s interior a bit. In what might just be a first for Lexus, the entire cabin was created to enhance the driving experience, rather than the “old fashioned” Lexus way of coddling all passengers. Lexus said it changed the driver’s seating position so that the driver has, “increased comfort, better forward visibility, and overall command of the road.” Perhaps the cabin’s most distinctive feature is the massive 12.3-inch screen that comes with the optional navigation system. Lexus says that the screen is capable of supporting high-definition graphics and that it can be split to include both a large map, and any number of other displays, like audio or climate control information — much like the big screen offered in many BMWs.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

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