Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus last night launched the redesigned GS at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance event in California. The car will reach most markets in 2012.
Lexus claims the new mid-ranger brings a more engaging driving experience, bolder design and a more spacious, contemporary interior.
America and Australia get a GS350 with 3.5-litre petrol V6, Europe and the UK will have the GS450h full hybrid and GS250 petrol engined derivatives. No word on a diesel, though, which leaves that segment to BMW’s 5 and Mercedes’ E – Lexus maintains the hybrid does instead.
The revised platform is more rigid compared to the current model thanks to an increased number of spot welds and adding laser welds in specific locations. The track, wider by 40mm at the front and 50mm at the rear, works in combination with a revised suspension design to give a more assured stance and superior cornering performance.
The new suspension system is designed to guide the GS through corners with precision. In the front, aluminium upper and lower control arms employ larger bushings. The rear subframe has been completely redesigned to accommodate an all-new multi-link rear suspension, the improved geometry enhancing rear-end control. With the stiffer platform and lighter components, the shock absorbers can use lighter-viscosity oil, responding faster to small inputs.
The use of aluminium reduces unsprung weight and results in significantly improved agility, ride comfort, body control and steering precision. Ventilated disc brakes featuring four-piston aluminum front calipers are equipped with the latest electronic enhancements to provide braking balance and control.
New colours will benefit from glass flakes incorporated into the coating that adds a high level of brilliance to the paint. Engineers also developed a new coating technology which makes the paint appear more radiant, the additional metallic texture giving both strong shading and defined, sharp highlights.
Revised door openings offer easier entry and exit and boot access is improved with a wider, deeper opening. Luggage capacity has been increased by almost 25%.
The interior includes a number of embedded premium features as standard equipment. A new energy-saving auto climate control system called S-Flow uses the occupant-detection system to focus airflow only to the front area where passengers are actually seated, a first-in-class technology. A next-generation remote touch with one-push confirmation is standard on all models and controls climate, audio and phone as well the navigation system. A reversing camera is standard.
New white LED lights are sequentially lit to illuminate the areas around the doors, centre console and footwells. A new analogue clock, carved from an ingot, is also fitted.
Cabin materials include three types of wood and contrast stitching is used as a visual accent around the interior to create a rich, tailored interior space.
Among the class-leading 10 airbags in the new GS, there are knee airbags for both driver and front passenger. Rear seat occupants have seat-mounted side airbags, and all four outboard occupants are equipped with side curtain airbags.
New Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats increase the likelihood that occupants will be in the optimum position at the moment of impact, enhancing the protective effect of the seatbelt system. Standard seatbelts with pretensioners with force limiters used for front and outboard rear seats add to occupant protection.
Options include a pre-collision system, which uses the dynamic radar cruise control system to provide early warning of upcoming objects that might result in a collision. The system also uses a first-in-class infrared camera to monitor the driver’s eyes. If the driver is not looking forward when a collision appears imminent, the system will sound a warning sooner than otherwise. If the driver still does not respond and make the appropriate manoeuvre, the system will initiate braking up to two seconds prior to impact, helping to lessen the severity of the collision.
Other available safety systems include a Night Vision System that enhances driver visibility in the dark; Head-Up Display (HUD); a Blind Spot Monitor that helps detect vehicles in rear/side blind spots; and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW). GS is the first in its segment to offer LKA with active steering torque to provide a small assistance in maintaining course, while the LDW feature alerts drivers if they begin to drift out of their lane.
Next-generation multimedia brings a host of standard entertainment and connectivity enhancements, including enhanced Bluetooth capability with automatic phonebook download and streaming audio.
GS drivers will get DVD audio and video compatibility, MP3 sound enhancement, 5.1 Surround Sound, and a high-resolution eight-inch central control display centrally located high up in the instrument panel.
Cars fitted with the navigation system will have an industry-first 12.3-inch high-resolution multi-media screen, large enough to support simultaneous, split-screen viewing of a large map display, plus audio, climate or other vehicle information.
An 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is available. The system provides 7.1 surround sound through 10 channels using a new class D Digital amplifier and efficient Green Edge speakers that are lighter, more energy-efficient and have less distortion. The new system produces almost three times as many watts per channel versus the previous generation.