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Quick Spin: 2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

Jeff Glucker September 27, 2012 Featured, Lexus Reviews, Quick Spin 34 Comments

Did you know that the design of the first-generation Lexus GS was penned by the sexy shape makers at Italdesign Giugiaro? That car was shaped in 1988 before it became the real-life 1991 Toyota Aristo. It eventually arrived stateside in 1993 as the Lexus GS 300, and slotted itself as a more affordable luxury alternative to the Lexus LS while also offering more substance than the entry-level ES. It took a generation for the GS to catch on though, because it wasn’t until the second-generation 1998 GS hit dealership that the model began to rise in popularity.

Everything that goes up eventually comes down though, because the third generation 2006 GS was a bit of a snooze fest. It was certainly more refined and luxurious than the models that came before it, but the styling fell deep into the family look. Lexus vehicles are typically understated and shoot for subtle elegance. The GS, however, was always the wild child of the family that offered up something more for enthusiast shoppers.

Now the time has come to return to its stand-out roots. Lexus has an all-new GS and it seems exterior aggression is the order of the day. Have the designers gone too far? In order to break out of the standard Lexus look, we say you can’t go far enough and the 2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport is the perfect anti-Lexus Lexus.


I’m going to cut right to the chase here: I really like the new GS. There’s a bit of a disclaimer needed though, because I’ve only driven one model, and it’s the GS 350 F-Sport you see here. Lexus asked which variant we wanted to drive as the automaker offers the car in 350 (RWD or AWD), 450h (the hybrid), and (our favorite) the F-badged variant. What makes the F-Sport better than its non-F brethren? The exterior design is much more aggressive thanks to the front fascia that was possibly styled H.R. Giger (citation needed). On top of that, the GS gets upgraded wheels and tires and it’s also available with an optional dynamic handling system as well as a rear-wheel steering system.

Earlier, we said this car is the anti-Lexus Lexus, and that’s because it’s a blast to drive. Under the hood sits a 306-horsepower quad-cam 3.5-liter V6 engine. The mill is paired with a paddle-shiftable six-speed gearbox that responds slower or faster depending on the driving mode you’ve selected. Lexus have engineered a system that can be switched between ECO (Boo! Hiss!), Sport S (Not bad…), and Sport S+ (Woo hoo, we have a winner!). Each rung up the performance ladder leads to revised throttle response, suspension firmness, and transmission gear shift times. This is not simply a good-looking middle-management ferry, it’s a surprisingly agile luxury sports sedan that will do donuts around the CEO and his LS.


Our initial impressions of the car resulted from the first glance of the exterior. It’s the interior, however, that deserves a bit of virtual applause. We’ve never been fans of the interior styling found in the average Toyota or Lexus vehicle. Inside the GS though, this is a cabin space that seems to have come from a different automaker. It’s stylish, modern, comfortable, supportive, and all around wonderful. Stealing the spotlight is the massive 12.3-inch screen sitting atop the center stack. Firing this thing up is akin to bringing home your first HD televsion. The crisp display can be split into two different sections so you can view a large map while also checking out the weather, your stocks, or what is playing on your iPod. If you do have an MP3 device plugged in, you’ll get to enjoy the sound through the 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. Mr. Levinson knows how to shove speakers into cars, and the result is crisp and clear tones at almost all volumes.

All of that luxury, style, and technology doesn’t come cheap of course. The base price of the 2013 GS 350 is $46,900, and the starting price of the F-Sport is $52,590. Still, the starting price of the non F-Sport is a bit lower than the competition while the F-Sport brings the price right in line with the likes of the BMW 535 and Audi A6 3.0T.

What Lexus has done with the all-new GS 350, is provided a car that stands in delightful contrast to the rest of the product lineup. However, it’s nice to see that the influence of the GS is rubbing off on the rest of the family. This GS wasn’t the first to stand out either, because the IS-F super sedan and LFA super car both show that Lexus knows how to build an entertaining or mentally intoxicating machine. If the new GS can help be a guiding light for the rest of the brand, we might be in for more treats down the road.

[Disclosure: Lexus let us borrow the 2013 GS 350 F-Sport for a week and included a tank of gas. Insert something funny here about the time spent with the car, yadda yadda, I need some coffee.]

Images copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Jeff Glucker

  • Van_Sarockin

    I'm so glad I've never aspired to luge-like depreciation rates, or the costs of complicated electrical repairs out of warranty. This might be an improvement over prior Lexi, but that's faint praise, and of no concern to me.

    • Yes. I generally refrain from commenting in these instances because I share your perspective.

    • Kogashiwa

      Cars are getting to be pretty similar in electrical complication. EFI, ABS, traction control, stability control, a dozen airbags, etc., all either standard or available on almost everything. So given the choice between something with all those gizmos made as cheaply as possible, or made the very best Toyota knows how, I know which I'd take (and did take). And not too many cars depreciate less than a Lexus – my IS300 is eight years old and I still had to pay nearly half of what a new IS250 is going for. (Very low miles on it though, to be fair.)

  • dukeisduke

    An alternative is the KV Mini, which has less-complicated repairs out of warranty.

    • pj134

      You need to know your correct grinding stone size though. That can be tricky.

    • Van_Sarockin

      And it's easier to park. But far less of an immersive IMAX video game experience. Tough call.

  • pj134

    Ahh, Lexus and Acura have become embroiled over duckface vs. snaggletooth.

    A snaggletooth is a defect where as a duckface means you're retarded…

    It's a tough call.

  • Scandinavian Flick

    So the F-Sport really is just an appearance package with a "dynamic handling" (which I assume to mean "more computers") upgrade option? I mean, that's pretty much what I expected… but still interesting to have it confirmed.

    I saw an F-Sport version of the ct 200h on my lunch break, and couldn't see any difference at all. I am interested in those though… Might possibly be a good car for my parents after a year more of brutal depreciation as an upgrade from their BMW.

    • Kogashiwa

      I don't know about all of them, but I know on the IS the F-sport pack includes completely different suspension, bigger wheels and stickier tires, and intake and exhaust (that don't actually net you much power unfortunately). Also some interior upgrades, I think the seats are different.

      • Scandinavian Flick

        So it varies by model? Wow, that confounds it even further.

    • pj134

      This thread's repeated use of "f-sport" is making me realize what a terrible name it is.

      • Scandinavian Flick

        What the f-sport are you talking about? I f-sporting love the name and f-sport the further use of it in daily language. In f-sport, I f-sport the f-sporting of f-sports in f-sported f-sport f-sportism.


        • jeepjeff


        • Van_Sarockin

          Mother f-sporting A!

  • Number_Six

    Might I suggest one positive thing about the trickle-down effect from the LouFA? I like the new interior design language.


    • Vairship

      It also reduces the number of dead skin cells in Lexus dealerships by lowering the average age of the customer base.

  • Dean Bigglesworth

    Let me start by saying that i have never been too fond of Lexus.. and the following might sound fanboi-ish, but i was really impressed with the damn thing.

    I very much prefer the GS450h F-Sport over the 550i or E350. It's more fun and engaging to drive than either, it's pretty communicative for a large car and it grips incredibly well. Mashing the throttle mid corner just causes more speed, not understeer. I didn't dare test the limits of grip on public streets, but it was still enough to scare passengers… It's comfortable but never feels soft or floppy. The interior really is a class above the germans in design and materials. In town you can just silently sneak around in EV-mode(or not, if you prefer), then when a gap opens up you can floor it and go 0-100kph in under 6 seconds. It's noticeably cheaper than the Germans too. And I really like the look.

    But unless i won the lotto, i would never actually buy any of these cars. I'll stick with ecoboxes and just try finding the most fun ecobox i can afford.

  • Mr. Smee

    As a second gen GS owner (GS400), I was ready to hate this car because of the grille. I am an Idiot. I took a GS350AWD for a test drive and am very impressed. It has a handling dynamic that feels like they hacked my brain to develop. The interior is beautiful, the seats are amazing, and…..I like the 'spindle' grille. I do wish the sides and wheel flares had some character, but the car has a real presence. I wanted to say stance, but the VIP crowd has ruined a good word.

    Two things they missed though, the door armrest is poorly positioned and shaped – I can live with that. There's no V8 – I 'm not sure I can live with that. As powerful and responsive as the V6 is, it never lets you forget it's not a V8.

    I do like how Lexus has got a fire under them again. They know who they are, they know what the younger part of their audience is looking for and they are aggressively pursuing it.

    • pj134

      … You spell "duckface" funny.

  • If we keep this kind of commenting up, Chief Blooger will never get another press car.

    • Scandinavian Flick

      Chief Blooger F-Sport.

  • SVT2888

    I actually quite like it. It just needs to sit an inch lower and it'd be perfect.