Accelerating briskly toward the obstacles on the test track set up to demonstrate the agility of the 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport, the mellifluous resonance of its 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 fills the cabin with an intoxicatingly pleasing aria. The sound, absolutely reeking of high performance, instantly elevates the corners of your mouth, even as your eyes lower into the characteristic thousand-yard squint which always accompanies the level of concentration required to manage a car exuding this much potential.
Flicking the steering wheel to avoid the first obstacle, you’re rewarded with a significantly greater degree of directional change than you anticipated. In other words, you moved the wheel a little — the car shifted a lot. So quick is the tiller, particularly when aided by the optional Dynamic Rear Steering system, approaching the next obstacle, having had time to adjust, you clear it with what seemed to be just a thought.
Yeah, the car’s steering is that responsive.
Turning into the first real corner, you’re amazed at the stability of the F Sport Lexus, and also by its lack of body roll. Rather than lean the way so many cars do, the Lexus merely changed its attitude in response to your steering input, streaked toward your targeted apex and gracefully finessed the corner.
This is a by-product of the new multilink rear suspension kit fitted to the GS 350, and wholly enhanced by the Lexus Dynamic Handling system. The new suspension arrangement mounts the springs outboard of the shocks to improve stability. A nice side benefit of this configuration is improved trunk space too. The Dynamic Handling System is an adaptive variable affair specifically calibrated to reduce body roll, pitch and heave. This keeps the Lexus perfectly flat through any manner of corner and maximizes the staggered low-profile 19-inch tires’ ability to keep their contact patches squarely on the pavement.
The center console’s Drive Mode Selector enables you to select your desired level of responsiveness from the car. Choosing Sport Plus sets the equivalent of “high alert” by advancing the engine’s throttle response and advising the ABS braking system to allow you a bit more leeway. The Sport mode gives you the throttle response while leaving ABS in its normal state.
Needless to say, right now, you’re rocking Sport Plus — big time.
Under full acceleration now, taking advantage of the full 277 ft-lbs of torque from the V6, and rocketing toward the next turn, you marvel at the shifting of the six-speed automatic transmission. Delivering an up-shift at just the precise moment to maximize your momentum, then intuitively downshifting during intense braking to sweetly clip the ninety-degree left-hander coming up, the transmission responds adroitly. It times its shifts to perfectly enable the most efficient transfer of power while maintaining stability and velocity. Plus, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, handy paddles behind the steering wheel offer you that capability. BTW, when it comes to cornering, the big 14-inch braking system plays a key role too—hauling the Lexus down from insane rates of speed repeatedly and with no fade whatsoever.
But enough of the hectic already.
Out on the street, serenely surrounded by cars with considerably less performance potential, the Lexus blends seamlessly. Its track-smoking abilities securely filed away, the palatially luxurious aspects of its nature are called to the fore. The 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport is just as quiet and comfortable and on the street as it is raucous and capable on the track.
Plush leather adorns the instrument panel, steering wheel, shift lever and seats. Legibility of the electroluminescent gauge cluster is outstanding, while the crispness and clarity of the optional 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is impeccable. The seats are the very epitome of the word comfort, with support ensured by extensive bolstering and 18-way adjustability.
In the center of the dash, the 12.3-inch touch screen multi information display’s user interface is outstandingly intuitive. Also operated by way of an updated version of the Lexus Remote Touch mouse-like controller, the unit houses the readouts for the Lexus Enform suite of in-car apps. With this system, the Lexus GS 350 becomes a venue in the cloud computing system, providing you access to services like Bing, Facebook, Pandora, Yelp, and Open Table.
High style and high tech are both served up very generously.
In other words, all the plush you expect when riding with the sweeping “L” logo is firmly in place, except now the sort of dynamic abilities you find behind the blue and white roundel accompanies it. That Lexus accomplished this while remaining true to the marque’s original core values as preferred purveyors of plush to pampered peeps is profound.
The 2013 Lexus GS lineup consists of the high performance F Sport and a standard GS 350; both available in rear- or all-wheel drive. A hybrid GS 450h is in the offing as well. While pricing has yet to be announced, it’s reasonable to expect it to start on the high side of $40,000.