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2013 Lexus GS35 F Sport


LEXUS TARGETS THE PERFORMANCE BUYER
With The 2013 GS350 F SPORT

By Linda Sharp

 

Lexus first introduced the GS series in 1993. The original offering shared many suspension and drive train components with the SC400 and the Toyota Supra. It was powered by an in-line 6, had a 4-speed automatic, and was rated at 220 hp, with 210 lb.-ft. of torque.  The fuel economy rating was 16 cities and 21 highway. By 1993 standards, it was a nice car. By today’s standards, well some might call it a yawner.

There has been a lot critical commentary recently that Lexus needs to up their game. Trust me, they have. Enter the 2013 Lexus GS. One turn behind the wheel, and the driver will know immediately that Lexus has met its objective in making the GS series a full fledged Grand Touring Sedan.
Lexus had four areas of focus when working on the new GS350. The interior space had to satisfy the core requirements of a luxury sedan, with an integrated feel between the car and the driver that makes driving fun. It also had to have plenty of cargo space for long journeys.

Secondly, the car had to give the visual feeling of fun to drive, and highlight the future design of Lexus interiors. Gone are your overstuffed lounge seats. Performance cued buckets with bolsters are the fare of the day.

Third, it absolutely had to possess outstanding handling performance, with evolved sharpness. The driver was going to know immediately what the GS was telling him/her. And finally, and of paramount importance to most all drivers, it had to be competitive when it came to fuel economy and environmental performance.

You would be correct to assume that being a Lexus; the GS line up has all the prerequisite creature comforts expected in this segment.
The new GS as the initial offering in the next generation of Lexus products wears the new face of Lexus. A face that is immediately distinguishable from previous product by it’s bold front “mouth/grill design.”  Lexus calls it a ”spindle grill.” All new bodylines with a bold front-end treatment are accented by the now almost obligatory “Christmas” lights below standard Xenon headlamps. You can expect to see it in similar configuration across the Lexus line.
The GS sedan will be offered in full line-up of trim levels beginning with the base GS.  It operates off a 306 hp V6, with a 6 speed automatic and rides on 17” alloy wheels.  The 3.5-liter V6 makes 306 hp utilizing both port and direct injection. EPA numbers rate the car at 19-mpg city and 28 highway.
A six-speed automatic is the only trans choice. It comes with paddle shifters on the steering wheel and programming from the IS-F performance sedan. It will have faster shifts, earlier torque-converter lockup and downshift throttle blips. The GS will operate in four modes--eco, normal, sport S and the optional sport S+ new Lexus Drive Mode Selector

Next in line is the GS 350 F Sport. Of course to my way of thinking, it is the sweetheart of the line up.  From first look, you know it is a different GS, beginning with a sport front bumper and rear lower valence with unique mesh grill inserts. A rear lip spoiler and F SPORT badging on the fenders round out the look.
The F Sport rides on 19” staggered width alloy wheels P235/40R19 front and P265/35/R19 rear summer tires and P235/40R19 all-season tires on the optional AWD.

Suspension tuning on the F Sport incorporates adaptable variable suspension. Before you say, “Yeah, yeah, we heard this before, but you can’t tell a difference.” Trust me, on this vehicle you can actually feel the difference. The F Sport gets larger front brake rotors and calipers with performance pads. I was a bit surprised that the rear brakes didn’t also get an upgrade, but driving the car, the standard rear brakes seemed more than adequate.
And then there are the F Sport creature comforts: 16 way power sport driver’s seat (includes power side bolsters, thigh support, 4-way lumbar), unique perforated leather seat trim, unique FSPORT interior treatment, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and aluminum interior trim and pedals.

Lexus also offers the GS450h, which is a 3.5-liter DOHC V6 Atkinson cycle engine that works in concert with two permanent electric motor/generators. The engine is mated to an electronically controlled CVT trans, with 2-speed torque converter of high-speed performance. The hybrid model is rated at 29 city/ 34 hwy and 31 combined MPG.

The Lexus GS350 test took place on the infield road course at Las Vegas, Motor Speedway. There was no banking involved. The layout was a configuration of both flat tight and sweeping turns and a really fast entering, decreasing radius final corner. The competition present for comparison was an E Class Mercedes Benz and a 5 Series BMW.

I drove the 5 Series first. As would be expected the car gave good feedback, and did most everything I begged it to accomplish. The Mercedes curiously had a column mounted stalk shifter. The first impression was not that of a performance sedan. On the course, the M-B had the most body roll and felt the heaviest. You really had to work to get it turn in so you could hit your apex.

Then it was time to get behind the wheel of the F Sport.  The GS350 Luxury Model while a huge improvement in handling dynamics and driver feedback compared to prior GS’s, was in a different league from the F SPORT which was nimble, agile, quick, forgiving, fun to drive. I could go on and on and on. Actually I tried to, but they suggested I get out so others could drive the car.

The 2013 Lexus GS 350 will be available in rear- and all-wheel-drive models when it goes on sale in February, with the new GS 450h following in the spring. The V8 GS 460 has been dropped.

The GS 350 pricing begins at $47.775. Going full boat for the F Sport package will begin at $53,465. Add $1000 more if you want the rear steering option.
In a blossoming performance sports sedan market, the Lexus GS series seems to have hit the target, not only in amenities, and pricing, but most important to this buyer  - PERFORMANCE!

AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY!

As an added treat Lexus had present for hot laps, given by professional drivers, rides in their LFA supercar. You probably have indirectly heard about this car, if not by name.  The stats on the car are as follows.  The LFA is an exotic, two-place, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe. The chassis and body are made largely of carbon-fiber composite, just like those of an Enzo or a Mercedes SLR McLaren. Per Lexus’s scales, the car weighs 3263 pounds—less than a Corvette ZR1.

The engine is a 4.8-liter V-10 co developed with Yamaha. It’s a compact unit that makes 553 horsepower at 8700 rpm and revs to a giddy 9000 rpm. Maximum torque is 354 pound-feet peaks at 6800 rpm, with 90 percent available between 3700 and 9000 revs.

The rear-mounted, six-speed automated manual transaxle incorporates a Torsen limited-slip differential. Control arms comprise the front suspension, with a multilink arrangement at the back. To keep weight down, the suspension pieces and the remote-reservoir monotube KYB dampers are aluminum.
The Brembo carbon-ceramic brake setup consists of discs 15.4 inches in diameter and six-piston monoblock calipers up front, with 14.2-inch discs and four-piston calipers at the back. Forged aluminum 20-inch BBS wheels sit inside bespoke 265/35 front and 305/30 rear Bridgestone Potenza tires. There are four driving modes: automatic, normal, wet, and sport; the driver can also select manual shift speeds. In sport mode, the stability-control system allows for greater amounts of yaw, but the system can be switched off completely.

There were two LFA’s available for the rides. One was black and the other was shall we say “arrest me yellow.” There were three pro drives available to give the rides. The first driver I rode with was a nice local racer. His ride was quick but conservative. I knew the car was capable of more. Next I hopped in with a fresh-faced Irish chap, who obviously was out to prove to the world that he was the next Sebastian Vettel. He was abrupt and brisk with his movements. It was quite the thrill ride, but since we were sideways more than we were strait, I figured that ride didn’t tell the whole story. However, it was a great learning tool, as it demonstrated visibly just how amazingly forgiving the brute powered mechanical marvel was. All he had to do, was lift off the throttle and the car would right itself.

I thought I was done for the day after my second ride. But no, the best was yet to come. Toyota/Lexus operative Dick Kelley – himself a former road racer, asked, “Did you ride with Stu? He was referring to Stu Hayner.

Stu Hayner may not be a household name to casual motorsports enthusiasts, but to those whose roots go deep into the world of sports car racing, he successes are well known. He is one of the most versatile and successful drivers in the road-racing stable. Here are the makes he has driven in a career that stated in 1988: Chevrolet (42), Dodge (15), Pontiac (11), BMW (4), Ford (3), Riley & Scott (3), Porsche (3), Lola (2), Nissan (2), Mazda (1)  And the models: Camaro (30), Daytona (9), Corvette ZR-1 (9), Firebird (7), Viper GTS (5), M3 (4), Firehawk (4), Mustang (3), Mk III (3), Corvette (3), 911 GT2 (2). You might also find some of his co-drivers as a testament to his ability: Roger Schramm (28), John Heinricy (19), Don Knowles (10), Andy Pilgrim (8), Erik Messley (6), Marty Miller (5), Ron Nelson (4), Del Percilla (4), Larry Schumacher (4), James Weaver (4), Boris Said (3)

The very first corner told me I was in for a treat. Smooth as silk, no wasted time anywhere and obviously lightning fast. My years of instructing at Road Atlanta had taught me that smooth may not be flashy, but it is always the fastest way. Riding with Stu was like the best thrill ride you could ever experience at the world’s greatest amusement park. When we returned to the start point, as I exited. I complemented, “You probably don’t have a clue who I am, but I used to teach at Road Atlanta (18 years) and you are without question - leaps and bounds the best driver I road with today.” He politely said, “I know who you are.”  And that he appreciated my complement. His statement also told me he gave me the full deal, no holds barred ride. It was a treat.

I had one other large treat that day. Remember I mentioned earlier that you might have heard of the LFA, even if you didn’t know its name, and that it was “arrest me yellow?” Yep, you got it the yellow car was the exact car that Kyle Busch earned his “high speed driving award" in Iredell county North Carolina. I’d be remiss if I didn’t reveal that I am a staunch Kyle Busch fan. Not sure if I’d want to have dinner with him, but if I was paying a driver, he would be the only choice. So my point is, no one would believe how quickly you get to 100 mph in the LFA. I’m sure that it is much more difficult to go slow than to go fast in that particular car. Not condoning what Kyle did, but I can certainly understand how anyone could be upwards of 100 mph in this car and never realize. 

I’m not sure what LFA stands for, but in my book it is Lightning Fast Automobile!!!

 

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2013 Lexus GS35 F Sport

 

 

2013 Lexus GS35 F Sport