Publication date: 16 April 2005
Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)

Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)


Review - Saint-Tropez. Just hearing the name brings back sweet memories of legendary films surface. Classic scenes that take place there are etched for life in the memory. Moreover, many famous actors and actresses are reside here. This very region is the setting for a test of the new Lexus GS300 / GS430. Can it get any better?

Saint-Tropez is a typical French town, but at the same time opulence radiates from it. The people seem aware that they live in a special place. Even the traffic makes clear that this is the choice of the elite. In the harbour huge yaghts sail to and fro. The new Lexus GS totally belongs here; especially the one driven here "GS430 President". "430" refers to the 4.3-litre 8-cylinder engine. "President" is for the most luxurious version.

Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)


No matter the version, the GS has a look that makes it clear that this is much more than just another luxury car. Unfortunately it is also immediately clear that this is much more car than average. In particular, the substantial rear overhang with lots of metal and little glass makes for a somewhat obese look. The European flair that the competition does offer has been replaced here by a certain American boorishness.

The reactions of onlookers in the various villages shows that the car stands out positively and is always perceived as stylish. Many a person grants the car a second glance and makes an approving gesture to the driver to make it clear that our choice is admired.

Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)
Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)


It is just the beginning of the privileged feeling that the new GS manages to give. This goes far beyond its appearance, because details such as the sound of the doors closing has been thought through. Even the feeling that touching the buttons, for example, makes it clear how a car can please. Lexus makes a point of always going a step further than the buyer expects. This is partly why the President trim features the latest inventions available from the manufacturer. This takes this GS-series top model even goes a step further than the current top model, the LS.

Special, but not unique, features include seat heating and seat cooling. The cruise-control features radar, so the car can adjust its own speed with other traffic. A Bluetooth phone is automatically paired with the hands-free kit, meaning the owner's phone can remain in jacket or bag can remain and wirelessly communicates and integrates with the car. Parking assistance is not only found at the front and rear, but is equipped with a camera that uses pattern recognition to recognise parking spaces. Symbols are then used to indicate how far the steering wheel should be turned to park in that space.

Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)


The audio system consists of a radio, 6 CD changer in the dashboard and a cassette player. The sound of this specially audio specialist Mark Levinson customised system is outstanding and even better than in other Lexus models. It is a pity, though, that the volume is not adjusted the moment the sat nav utters instructions, so the instructions are inaudible when the driver turns up the volume.

If all those buttons are too overwhelming, each function can be controlled by voice recognition. "Airco on" is sufficient, for example, to switch on the (left/right separated) air conditioning on. In practice, around 50% of commands are correctly recognised, which with the current state of technology is a decent score.

Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)


Not visible, but unique is the new safety system. Until now, such systems can intervene on the brakes and the engine to prevent skidding. Lexus now goes a step further and lets the car apply minor steering corrections itself!

When the radar "sees" that an object is being approached, the braking force is increased and the seatbelts are pre-tensioned to cushion a possible crash as best as possible. And ... in unlike other systems, this could be demonstrated! At an abandoned airport, a car was allowed to be driven onto an object made of polystyrene foam to experience the effect ourselves. The conclusion is: very effective! Skidding is prevented and the "Pre-Crash" system manages to limit injuries.

On the road

But the aim was not to crash this brand new Lexus, but to to enjoy the luxury life on the Cote d'Azur. Already during the first kilometres it became immediately clear how even the driving characteristics differ from the competition.  The GS has firm suspension and the driver therefore feels immediately what can and cannot be done in corners. Yet the car is very comfortable and glides over the road like a limousine, which is normally so softly sprung that all communication is just lost.

What Lexus cannot disguise is the size of the GS, as the driver is also immediately aware that this is a wide car. Even in big cities, lanes seem awkwardly narrow and driveways require more dexterity than usual. No matter how beautiful cities like Nice and Saint-Tropez are, a big car like this does no place in a busy city centre.

Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)


On the off-road, the GS has two characters. The first is that of a gliding cocoon of chrome and leather for which every speed is walking pace. The engine runs so beautifully and smoothly , that it seems as if there is no ordinary petrol, but a chemical wonder drug like pure silk oil is being burned. Which is not is strenuous for the car, is not tiring for the driver. Long distances are therefore covered with unprecedented ease and the various French seaside resorts are passed at lightning speed.

When the throttle is depressed deeply, almost 300 horsepower that transforms this stately touring car into a sensational sports car. The intermediate accelerations are impressive and whatever the speed, there is always a huge reserve available to kick it up a notch. The driver has to look far, very far, ahead to take account of the  acceleration.

On winding back roads, Lexus proves once again that comfort and sportiness are not opposites. With great precision and the pleasure of rear-wheel drive, the big GS lets itself be delightfully over the mountain roads. In the process, a push of a button would make both make both the steering and the suspension sportier, but not much of this is noticeable in practice.

While in this environment, it is clear that this is a heavy car. Once such a mass is in motion once, it is not easy to stop so that the ABS system intervened more than once on no more than than firm braking for a hairpin bend. Roadholding is sublime under sublime in all conditions. Understeer (sliding over the front wheels) is hardly possible. Oversteer (breaking out of the rear) is corrected by the electronics. A smaller car like the Lexus IS is still livelier, but the combination of comfort and sportiness of the GS is one to enjoy often and for a long time.

Lexus GS (2005 - 2012)


Lexus has ambitious growth plans and the new GS is the first car with which to achieve that. The newcomer does so convincingly. Apart from a few flaws in the ergonomics, the only real drawback is the limited headroom (front and rear). Beyond that, the GS430 is in all respects among the absolute best in its class. With its many electronic inventions in terms of luxury and safety, the GS even leads the way.

The strongest point is that the car makes its occupants feel privileged. For good reason does Lexus have "the art of perfection" as its credo. This is not just another great luxury car, but one to enjoy every mile.

  • Exceeds all expectations
  • Advanced usable technology
  • Sublime driving characteristics
  • Little headroom
  • Minor ergonomic misses
  • 3rd brake light visible in rear view mirror