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Super smooth saloon
THE six-cylinder engine returns to the Lexus GS line-up and it couldn't be sooner for Lexus diehards and other enthusiasts. When the fourth-generation GS was introduced four years ago, it debuted with a 2.5-litre V6. But the GS250 was later replaced by the 2.0-litre four-cylinder GS Turbo, much to the chagrin of those who steadfastly refuse to subscribe to the downsizing trend.
To set things right, Lexus has introduced the GS350.
The Lexus GS350 uses a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 updated with D-4S fuel injection system combining intake-port injection with direct injection. Twin injection optimises the air/fuel ratio and ensures optimum combustion at all times, which results in enhanced fuel economy and smoothness.
The fact that the unit has quad cams and 32 valves already contributes to its relatively high fuel efficiency. The GS350 claims petrol consumption of 9.6 litres per 100 km under the combined cycle, or 10.4 km per litre. This is good, given that it is a six-pot and the GS350 weighs in at 1,700 kg.
All things considered, the turbocharged four-cylinder unit in the GS Turbo is pretty refined, with excellent insulation to boot. But the smoothness of the GS350 shines.
It is complemented by the silken gearbox. The V6 drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission and only a muted drone from the engine bay permeates the luxurious cabin.
With the window down, it is possible to hear the subdued but sporty exhaust note.
Being a naturally aspirated V6, however, the GS350 does not have eye-popping low-end torque to write home about, and the revs have to climb high enough before it really gets going.
The mid-range and high end oomph, however, make up for all that with quiet strength. Lexus developed the GS as a grand touring sedan, and the power and confidence when the GS350 is cruising are obvious.
There are the usual Eco, Normal, Sport S and Sport S+ driving modes, but even in Sport, only the beefier steering is immediately evident - the damping remains resiliently supple. The GS has a front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension set-up, and AVS Adaptive Variable Suspension with adaptive dampers is standard for the GS350. Going at full pelt, the stability and comfort are outstanding.
Surprisingly, the GS350 can be a bit playful too. When driven hard in Sport S+, its rear-wheel-drive character manifests itself with wheelspin and sharper handling.
But for those in a less aggressive mood, perhaps the nicest aspect of the GS has to be its unique looks and luxury.
At 4.88 metres long and 1.84 metres wide, with a 2,855 mm wheelbase, it is not a small sedan.
The spacious interior is subtly upscale, with modern high-end materials. A full-colour head-up display is standard with road and engine speed, and current gear info.
At the same time, the exterior design with its pronounced rear haunches is distinctive, especially the refreshed spindle grille, which has gained a three-dimensional form and now looks like a samurai's intricate half-mask.
With its smooth performance and striking styling, the Lexus GS350 stands out in a segment that is dominated by European sedans with their forced induction engines.
Lexus GS350 Luxury
Engine 3,456cc V6
Gearbox 8-speed automatic transmission
Max power 310 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Max torque 380 Nm @ 4,800 rpm
0-100 kmh 6.0 secs
Top speed 235 kmh
CO2 emissions 222 g/km
Average OMV S$66,000
Price S$327,000 (with COE)
Distributor Borneo Motors