DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Wife summed it up best as we cruised down I-75 in the 2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport: “This car feels old.” Upon further inquiry, she pointed out the ’80s-vintage separate digital clock (and matching temperature readouts for the auto climate control), and the silver-finished knobs and trim as particular examples of dated design. It’s true, too -- though this is only the third model year of the current GS, all the dash real estate below the very high-tech split-screen infotainment system appears inspired by a late-1970s Marantz receiver. I like that look in my living room, but less so in my car.
To some extent, the car’s exterior follows a similar pattern -- conventional to the point of staid from the rear bumper to the leading edge of the hood, then at the front fascia all hell breaks loose with dripping, drooling plastic curves. It’s not ugly, specifically, but that maw is so organic I’d be afraid to walk in front of it in a dark parking lot.
But what of the F Sport option in our tester? Unlike, say, Cadillac’s Vsport CTS, the F Sport GS skips power upgrades and focuses on trim, suspension and braking. The net result is far more a luxury car than a performance machine -- extraordinarily stable and silent, the Lexus also feels large and heavy in the vein of German sedans. Its focus is on drama-free motoring, but the Lexus will jump and run if the throttle is used properly -- the Toyota V6 switches soundtracks from unobtrusive to F1 car in a blink, and the result is more fun than you’d expect from this sedan.
But fun is not this car’s forte. I keep coming back to the Cadillac CTS Vsport I drove a few weeks ago because…well, the price is nearly identical, both cars have a letter plus the word “Sport” in the name and they’re similarly configured. For equal money, the Cadillac trades AWD for about 100 additional turbocharged horsepower, and the difference, my friends, is astonishing. Combined with the CTS’ nimble chassis, the Lexus is a sumo wrestler while the Caddy is a ballerina with a switchblade.
The Lexus die-hards out there may look at the GS F Sport’s specs and find it’s exactly what they’ve been seeking. I personally don’t get it -- it’s a solid but bland entry in a segment with several far better choices.
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR KEN ROSS: Lexus has done a great job on this car, the design is classic and they have incorporated the large spindle grille into the GS in the subtle manner. To me, the way the grille was being used in the past looked like it was forced onto an existing design. Now it feels like part of the car versus a forced design piece.
The interior is flawless as usual -- comfortable and well appointed. Everything is easily accessible and the design on the IP is clean and I didn’t find myself searching around for stuff.
I didn’t expect to enjoy driving this car as much as I did, because typically Lexus vehicles are a little soft. But this GS 350 F Sport cornered well, and acceleration from the V6 is swift. The brake pedal felt a little soft, though. A little more stopping bite would be appreciated, but Lexus is getting closer to matching the performance of its European counterparts.
The 2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport has a EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.PHOTO BY LEXUS
Options: F Sport package including rain-sensing wipers, heated & ventilated front seats, power sunshade, 19-inch split five-spoke dark graphite finish alloy wheels, staggered fitment with summer tires, F Sport tuned adaptive variable suspension (AVS), variable gear ratio steering (VGRS), Sport S + drive mode, 14.0-in, two-piece front-brake rotors, four-piston brake calipers, 18-way F Sport driver’s seat with power side bolsters, striated aluminum interior trim, black headliner, F Sport front bumper, upper & lower grille inserts, rear valence, rear lip spoiler ($4,640); pre-collision system ($2,000); heads up display ($900); blind spot monitor, power folding exterior mirrors ($700); trunk mat ($105); cargo net ($65)
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