How you do spice up an expensive luxury sedan without losing the inherent upscale nature of the vehicle? Is it as simple as adding some upgraded wheels, a sway bar set, and a more freely flowing exhaust? In the case of the 2009 Lexus GS 350 the answer is a surprising you betcha’.
The standard Lexus GS 350 is a luxury sports sedan that focuses more on the luxury than the sport. It handles that part of the equation quite nicely. It is certainly no slouch thanks to 303 horses being developed by way of a 3.5L V6 with direct injection. Yet the smooth shifting (read: not quick) six-speed automatic transmission, quite comfortable seats without much bolstering, and interior tech goodies reveal the true nature of the GS. These are not bad things, they are just not sporty things.
Thus the Lexus GS 350 is the automotive equivalent of a middle child who is trying to figure his or her place in the family pecking order. The stately LS 460 is the older sibling who is doing quite well for themselves. The younger IS-F was a standout athlete in high school and is continuing to kick ass in college. The GS isn’t sure if it wants to go to law school or to hit the gym.
This wayward child is in luck though, as the local dealer has some performance enhancing, um, options for the GS to buy. Slink up to the counter and ask for the guy who has the F-Sport parts. The GS you see here is fitted with 19-in F-Sport forged wheels, a front and rear sway bar set, and an exhaust which delivers a much more exciting note. The street value of these three pieces is $4,511, with the bulk of that coming from the cost of the wheels.
The Lexus GS 350 has always been a great place to be behind the wheel from a comfort standpoint. The interior is well sorted and the seats keep all occupants happy on short or long trips. The engine crests the 300 hp mark and the audio system is excellent thanks to Mr. Mark Levinson. It is a solid choice in the mid-size luxury sedan segment. What these F-Sport parts do though is tighten up the package a little bit for those who want a little more fun behind the wheel.
The whole package works together to create a more exciting driving experience. The GS 350 will never be a BMW, but it doesn’t want to be either. The car feels more planted in corners without causing a harsher ride. Behind the wheel I felt I could hustle the luxo sedan with greater abandon and not get a mouthful of the canyon road guardrail. I wouldn’t be taking the GS 350 to the track anytime soon, but the F-Sport parts allowed me to experience a more well-rounded driving sensation. Numbness is replaced with feeling and it’s more than welcome.
The 2009 Lexus GS 350 you see here starts at $44,850 and, thanks to a few options ticked off, has a MSRP of $50,995. Tacking on the charge for the F-Sport PEDs brings the final tally to $55,506. The good news here is that the competitors are all priced higher to start and have less horsepower (Audi A6: $45,200/265 hp , BMW 528i: $45,950/230 hp, and Mercedes-Benz E350: $48,600/268 hp). The bad news for Lexus is that the IS-F starts at $58,460.
I am still a bit surprised at how well the GS stacks up against the rest of the mid-size luxury segment (admit it, you are too) but, despite the F-Sport goodies it is still nowhere near as exciting as the IS-F. The Lexus GS 350 is a solid choice in this market and the F-Sport parts are a smart addition. However…this is Hooniverse.com and you know we would skip the A6, 528i, E350, AND GS 350 with F-Sport parts just to smell the leather of the IS-F key fob.
Which, oddly enough, I just happen to have in my pocket – stay tuned hoons…