Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Lexus GS300: An Alternate Review

By Dr Long

Handsome, albeit a little late to arrive in Malaysia, the GS300 might be one of the best luxury mid-size execs available. This rear-drive Lexus model may have an overall silhouette – and size - like the newly-launched Camry (or is it the other way around?), but it certainly didn’t drive like one. Aesthetically, the rear is definitely more athletic and muscular even, to a certain extent. It also wears a sportier face with sharper looking headlamps. The comparison may be unfair; but there was a fair share of opiniated Toyota owners who drove to Lexus Centre in their ‘bootlegged’ “Lexus”.

Well equipped for a sedan of such up-market stature, the GS300 is a cozy place to be in with all the bells and whistles of a higher priced automobile.

What’s missing, though, is the engaging drive. Not wanting to be misunderstood, it must be said that the 3.0 V6 engine is smooth and willing, while the 6-speed ‘box is plain superb. The GS is a little light on its feet though – not floaty but a tad less-weighty at the rear. Tracking stability at high speed sweeping corners is still good (especially in manual gears) but you can feel that there is just maybe a little more buoyancy of its suspension. Not wallowy but just that tinge of extra firmness missing. Therefore, if you do a miniature slalom in it, the rebound pliancy seemed a little busy (slow to regain composure) for taut body control. High speed comfort for passengers – especially at the rear – is therefore compromised. More often than not, our ears’ vestibular apparatus was unnecessary ruffled, more so during spirited drives.

The test car was surprisingly eager in telling of higher speeds than the speedometer indicated. Your wife or mother-in-law would definitely protest more often on outstation trips! Perhaps the Japanese engineers have packaged a softer suspension set-up for our market and these Lexus Japan guys have over-reacted to our poor Malaysian road surfaces. This is where the GS300 pales in comparison with the likes of the E-Class and 5-series. Maybe the European market GS dampers set-up would make a difference.

On the highway though, ride comfort is top-notch but Lexus Malaysia has got to do something about those rumbling and droning Yokohamas. Braking power, pedal feel and modulation are spot-on in its class.

The steering could use a little more weight and feel but nothing that a wider section tyre can’t usually fix. In fact, 18" alloys would be nicely fitting for this 3.0L saloon. Rear seats could be comfier with a little more thigh support – at the fore. Also, the spare wheel cover in the boot has got to shed its paper-cardboard thin ‘quality’. It isn’t meant to be space or weight-saving, is it?

Teutonic sedan owners who are looking to switch over to Lexus’ Japanese efficiency, reliability and durability will love the GS300 for its gadgets, detailing and quality. Likely industry-leading sales and after-sales service too. But for those who enjoy a more involving drive, they may have to wait a little longer…well, maybe not that much longer.


Zey said...

Whenever I goto The Curve, I would glance through my car window at this Lexus building. In my opinion, it's the most luxury one I've ever seen! Would love to pay a visit there one day...

p.s. Nice blog you have here!

Azfar said...

My God, this is the first time I realised the GS-class looked like Camry!!!!!

I do realise the latest Camry is Lexus-inspired, bt I've nvr seen a pic of a Camry side-by-side wit a Lexus, this is a 1st time I've seen it, and it rly looked like siblings!!

drlong said...

Thanks for the compliments.
Do check out the premium Lexus showroom and cars!

Actually the new Camry's rump looks more akin to the LS460L (especially at the edges of the boot cover)!
But overall size and silhoutte is shadowing the GS300. Best of both world? ;)