When the product planners at Lexus prepared the brief for the Lexus GS 350 F Sport, they had a clear definition for the car, and it shows in the design of the final product
The 2020 GS F Sport’s design is crisp, while the sedan is well-equipped with a quiet, confident personality that steadily grows on you as you drive the car for a few days.
Overview: The car also has a clear mission – to attract customers considering other midsized sport sedans from European luxury brands. Additionally, designers and engineers working on the GS 350 focus on the end product and provide it with a more distinctive character. This look helps it stand apart from the other products in the Lexus line, which typically offer ample luxury and technology but come up a bit short on performance side.
Exterior: The hourglass-shaped front grille has become a Lexus trademark and the GS 350 F Sport has a distinctive version, along with tucked-away headlamps and 18-inch wheels that fit nicely into the car’s handsome profile, which tapers neatly into the rear spoiler. The smooth surfaces add to the overall appearance of the GS 350, which also has a sunroof.
Overall, the GS 350 makes a good impression, which is certainly an essential reason for owning a sedan that sells for $60,000. Its exterior design is sleek, sporty and dynamic whether the car is moving through traffic or sitting at a stop light or standing in the driveway of an elegant hotel. There also is the F Sport badging that let others know there is plenty of go with the show.
Interior: At first glance the interior of the GS 350 might make it seem like it’s a bit short on the luxury finishes expected now in a luxury car. Although there is plenty of leather and bright work on key elements such as the surface of the steering wheel as well as wood trim, but the interior still has a measure of austerity that might not fit an American ideal image of a luxury car.
“… The GS 350 generates the spark that can turn an ordinary commute into something of an adventure …”
But the interior has plenty of features such as a comfortable seat, controls and gauges that are easy to read. The night-time lighting scheme is not obtrusive but makes it simple to decipher key information even when the cabin is dark.
The entertainment and navigation systems are nicely integrated into the quiet cabin and the visibility from the driver’s seat is particularly good. In addition, adult passengers can fit into the back seat without disrupting the overall harmony of the interior and I always like metal capped pedals.
Powertrain: Lexus has equipped the GS 350 F Sport with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces and an 8-speed automatic transmission that produces 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The car also has paddle shifters that can substitute for the driver for the automatic shifts.
The vehicle I drove also was equipped with all wheel drove and had three different drive modes eco, normal and sport. The drive modes, by the way, were more than just a notch on the selector mode shifting from the eco-normal slot to sport produced a noticeable change in the car’s performance and character on the road. In sport mode, the car seemed to pick up extra power in a very precise way.
The shifts on the 8-speed transmission were quite smooth but the fuel economy at 21 miles per gallon combined was rather ordinary for a midsized sedan these days.
Safety and Technology: The 2020 GS 350 comes with 10 airbags and a full array of driver-assistance features, including blind-spot detection, lane departure warning alert and a back-up camera. The car is also equipped with park assist and dynamic radar cruise control. It also has in color head-up display that can help the driver keep their eyes on the road.
It is also equipped with a 12.3-inch display screen for entertainment and navigation and voice recognition software that responds to verbal prompts. The entertainment system is augmented with a 17-speaker sound system and the car is equipped with Bluetooth for hands-free use of a smart phone. There are also automatic headlamps and rain-sensing windshield wipers, an older technology that ought to be used more often by other manufacturers.
Driving Impressions: The car’s engine has plenty of power and so it gives it good speed from a standing start. The steering and suspension also have been beefed up in the GS 350 F Sport to augment the performance if the car was put out on a racetrack.
The variable power steering is very responsive and offers the driver plenty of feedback on varying road surfaces. In addition, the electronic suspension delivers a smooth, level ride under all kinds of road conditions. The system is very adaptable and changes the character of the suspension response depending on the driving mode selected. The GS 350 F-Sport brakes are also first rate, delivering plenty of stopping power.
Overall: In a world where sedans are often overlooked, this is an impressive vehicle that can handle the basics of everyday driving quite handily while also delivering a solid measure of old-fashioned driving fun.
It also can carry a couple of passengers and has ample room in the trunk for luggage and/or sporting gear. It’s not flashy. Nonetheless it is something of fashion statement that can pull off one of the chief reasons for ordering up a luxury car of any kind by making an impression on bystanders and maybe even a relative or two.