Driving Impressions – Lexus GS250 EX
Working two jobs (web editor of Compleat Golfer and as a freelance motoring writer) can be poles apart at times. However, there are moments when I’m able to seamlessly work both careers. In this case, Compleat Golfer was sending a colleague and I up to Sun City to cover the 2012 Nedbank Golf Challenge. Sun City is quite a distance from Johannesburg and we’d need something to carry all our luggage as well as being comfortable and effortless to drive. The shortlist was narrowed down to one – the 2012 Lexus GS. It’s a vehicle that I’ve read only good things about and seeing as I haven’t driven one yet, a booking was made for the entry level GS250.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sold on the looks right away and I think it’s very understated. That said, the F-Sport on the higher-spec models changes that and the result is a rather aggressive looking sedan. In pearl white, the GS250 does have elements of sportiness to it, thanks to a set of attractive gunmetal grey alloy wheels and recessed chrome exhaust surrounds.
Powering the GS250 is the same 2.5-litre V6 found in the IS250. Thanks to some subtle tweaks to the exhaust and intake, it sounds rather sporty. Power is rated at 154kW, while torque sits at 253Nm. For a vehicle this big and this heavy, the engine has just enough grunt to get going. Despite my initial reservations about the car being underpowered, Lexus claims that its GS250 can hit 100km/h in under 9 seconds, which isn’t too bad.
Being a Lexus, there are literally no optional extras and the cabin is bristling with high-tech goodness. There is quite possibly the biggest LCD screen which dominates the dashboard. With a rather funky computer mouse-like controller, you can control the ventilation, audio, navigation, Bluetooth and view the parking sensor camera. It’s a little daunting at first but if you take the time to take it all in and learn where everything is, you’re fine. Speaking of high-tech goodness, I was suitably impressed with what comes standard with the entry-level GS. Satellite navigation with live traffic updates, voice control (brilliant for hands-free calls), heated and cooled leather seats, reverse camera, front/rear park sensors, cruise control, auto handbrake, daytime LEDs, hill assist, auto lights, auto wipers and headlamp washers. I think that’s it. Knowing Lexus, there’s probably a lot of kit that I’ve missed. Still, it’s seriously impressive as usually you pay extra for all the cool stuff.
After picking up the car and loading up two sets of golf clubs, two suitcases, two laptop bags and two golfers with room to spare, it was time to hit the road. Open road manners are nothing short of impeccable as the big Lexus effortlessly glides along at the national limit. If you’re ever in a position to drive a Lexus GS, turn the radio off for a few moments. It’s so quiet and you can barely hear the road noise. The automatic six-speed gearbox is best left to its own devices, although if you’re in a hurry, activate manual mode and use the paddles behind the steering wheel. It’s not as sharp as, say a BMW DCT unit, but the gearbox is capable nevertheless. Once out of town, I engaged Sport mode which sharpened the suspension up and savoured the winding roads around Hartebeespoort Dam. Despite its size, the GS250 acquitted itself rather nicely and proved it wasn’t just a supreme executive cruiser. Best of all, the combined fuel consumption figure came to 9.7L/100km which is great for a V6-powered 1.5ton businessman.
The 2012 Lexus GS250 is quite a refreshing alternative to the German trio of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Sure, it won’t be able to steal all their sales but the offering of Toyota reliability/resale, supreme build quality and full house specification should sway a few customers. After having a quick glance at the four spec sheets, the Lexus comes to R 509,200. There’s a more powerful GS350 and a GS450 hybrid in the range too.
- Why you should: Spacious, huge boot, supremely comfortable, incredible specification for a base model, impeccable build quality and reliability.
- Why you shouldn’t: The lure of a diesel German BMW 520d may be too strong, will be thirsty if you’re in a hurry, engine needs to be worked to get the best out of it.
- It would be better if: there was a diesel in the range. Other than that, this is an excellent vehicle and worthy of its Car of the Year nomination, albeit in GS350 EX guise
- Competitors worth checking out: Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF
- Official website: Lexus GS250 EX