2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Review

Dressing up Grandma like a punk rocker.

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: June 4th, 2015

The Lexus GS is only three years old, yet it already feels like an old soul. As the automakers works through its current offerings with aesthetic refreshes to align with a new design language that looks to breathe some life into a brand popular with the geriatric sort, the GS seems like it's in a bit of a holding pattern.

We've seen the GS F concept, the sharper aesthetics of which will likely become the basis for a refreshed GS in a year or two's time, but until that car arrives, the GS won't receive too much massaging. For example, the main change for the 2015 model year is the inclusion of a new infotainment home screen. That's about as hands-off as it gets at the moment.

But this is no normal GS. No, this is the GS 350 F Sport, which takes the standard car and gussies it up with enhancements to its suspension, brakes, and aesthetics. Sure, it no longer acts like the pillow that the standard GS is, but it stands as a good middle ground between Lexus's "standard" offering and the forthcoming raucous F model.

  • Interior

    The Lexus GS is similar to its smaller stablemate, the ES, in that both cars feature interiors that were conceived by designers who had never met a person younger than 80. There are no aggressive creases or sharp edges; it's a relatively demure affair, with everything laid out in a very familiar manner. Everything is where you expect it, and there's plenty of physical switchgear to keep older buyers from freaking out, even though a somewhat daunting 12-inch infotainment screen looms directly above said switchgear. Even the gauges are simple; two big dials flank a small center screen, which displays only the pertinent information - navigation directions, fuel consumption, tire pressure and the like. Front and back, the seats are comfortable, with ample legroom.

  • Exterior

    Even though there are no sharp edges on the GS 350 F Sport's interior, there are a few on the exterior. To give the F Sport a different look than the standard GS 350, Lexus added some aggression to the fasciae, along with some larger wheels and twee little F Sport badges on the front fenders. It actually gives the car a little more character than its German counterparts can muster in far more performance-oriented guises; yes, we're saying this car looks angrier than the BMW M5.

    Yet, even though it's an attractive package, we can't help but think that it feels a bit old. After wondering how a three-year-old model could feel long in the tooth, we realized what the issue is - the size of the lights. These days, nearly every highfalutin new car sports a set of slimmed-down peepers, taking advantage of the smaller packaging required for xenon and LED headlights. On the other hand, you have the Lexus GS, which has headlights and taillights the size of a human torso. When you look at the GS and immediately follow that up with a gander at the RC, or the IS, or the NX, the GS looks like it was released in 2009. Jeepers creepers.

  • On the Road

    In order to ramp up the driving excitement of the standard GS, the F Sport also includes a few bits that deal with the car's dynamics. Adaptive suspension joins the mix, capable of stiffening up in Sport+ mode and softening itself in Comfort. The F Sport package also upgrades the GS's brakes, and the steering gains adjustability, as well. All in all, it makes for a fun sport-ish sedan, but it never strays too far away from the Lexus experience.

    The car is big, and it's heavy, and it still feels that way in F Sport form. Even with the car in Sport+ mode, which firms up the steering and suspension while treating the powertrain to a more aggressive map, the Lexus felt a bit on the portly side. This is due in part to the steering, which, while tight, has about as much "feel" as your fingertips do in the middle of a Chicago winter. That said, the adaptive suspension does do a great job of keeping the car flat during hard cornering, and the AWD system ensures that your nose will remain pointed in the intended direction of travel. The adaptive suspension's downside is that Comfort mode isn't nearly as traditional-Lexus "comfortable" as we'd like; it still crashes a bit over bumps.

    Somewhat surprisingly, we found ourselves enamored with the GS 350 F Sport's engine note. The powertrain remained whisper-quiet until we really dug into the gas; at that point, a deep growl emanated from the intake, and the car hustled off toward the horizon, sounding angrier and angrier as the revs rose.

  • Final Thoughts

    The Lexus GS 350 F Sport is a bit of an odd duck. It occupies a middle ground that leaves it with plenty of good ol'-fashioned luxury-car qualities, all wrapped around a slightly sporty set of components that seek to abandon traditional luxury with a single push of the gas pedal. It's the jack of all trades and the master of none. If you like dipping your toes in the pool from time to time, then this is definitely something you'd be interested in. But if you want to jump off the highest diving board, you might be better off waiting for a bit.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-6

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 306 horsepower / 277 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 19 city / 26 highway

    Base Price: $55,490

    As Tested: $60,185 (incl. $925 destination)

    Available Features:

    F Sport Package: 19-inch alloy wheels, Drive Mode Select with Sport+ mode, F Sport front and rear fasciae, upgraded brakes, adaptive suspension, variable-ratio power steering, 16-way adjustable front driver's seat, leather-trimmed shift knob and heated steering wheel, black headliner

    Cold Weather Package: High-intensity interior heater, windshield-wiper deicer, water-repellent front-door glass, headlamp washers

    Individual Options: Forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control, head-up display, blind-spot monitor, parking sensors, power trunk open/close, Mark Levinson premium audio system, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning

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