We've endured the teasers, seen the leaks and even driven a prototype, and now the wraps officially come off. This is the 2013 Lexus GS 350, the automaker's latest bid to create a driver-focused mid-sizer aimed at the hearts, minds and wallets of would-be 5 Series and E-Class buyers. It might be a tough sell, but it's a compelling case on paper, even if the styling leaves us wanting.
The chassis is all-new, the interior is more spacious and it's all powered by a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 306 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed sequential shift automatic gearbox. In rear-wheel-drive guise, Lexus claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a run from 30 to 50 mph in three seconds flat. An optional electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system can vary the power split between 50/50 and 30/70, but a torque-vectoring rear differential is notable in its absence.
Three driving modes span the spectrum from fuel-conscious to maximum consumption, with the now-familiar ECO mode reworking the throttle mapping, seat heaters and climate controls for improved fuel economy, while Sport S changes the instrument lighting from blue to red, delivers more aggressive shifts and throttle settings and Sport S+ tightens steering, loosens the stability control and shores up the adaptive suspension.
A 112.2-inch wheelbase works in partnership with aluminum control arms front and rear, along with a completely reworked multi-link rear suspension, beefed up bushings and four-piston aluminum calipers in front and upgraded discs at all four corners. Rolling stock include standard 17x7.5-inch wheels with optional 18x8 or 19x8-inch, the latter of which are fitted with 235/45 or 235/40 rubber, respectively.
Lexus managed to keep the dimensions almost exactly the same as the outgoing model and overall curb weight is down from 3,795 pounds to 3,715. The interior is more driver-centric, with all the major controls kept closely at hand, including a new Remote Touch system for the adaptive climate control system – dubbed S-Flow – which can detect how many occupants are in the GS and tailor the HVAC accordingly. Wood and leather abound, the seats appear nicely bolstered and the cabin is several steps above the outgoing model.
Bluetooth phone and audio streaming come standard, along with a 5.1 surround sound stereo and eight-inch central control display mounted high in the center of the dash. SMS text-to-speech allows drivers to have their messages read to them and respond with pre-canned texts, while the next-generation of Lexus Enform infotainment allows Bing searches, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Facebook integration, along with Sirius XM data services for traffic, weather, sports and fuel prices, voice-enabled restaurant reservations through OpenTable and movie ticket purchasing.
If the standard display and audio system is up to snuff, Lexus is offering a 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and a split-view, 12.3-inch display for movies, navigation, audio and climate information.
As for the styling, Lexus calls its new fascia a "spindle grille" and it's set to infect the rest of the line-up in the coming years. It's a more subtle interpretation of the GS concept's nose, and although it's certainly toned-down, it's sure to be divisive. The rear opens up to provide 25 percent more luggage room and we're seeing a whole lotta Sonata in the taillight treatment and sloping trunk.
We'll have live images of the GS 350 a bit later, and we plan to grille Lexus execs on the hybrid and F Sport versions when we corner them this evening. In the meantime, check out all the details in the press release and gallery below.