As humans, we have strange habits. For instance, we usually value the first and the last, but overlook the middle. Think movies (plot development is so trite), families (the middle child, often forgotten) and cars makers (that mid-size sedan). Oftentimes the sedan, coming in not too hot and not too cold, gets neglected and ignored. But in the case of Lexus, their middle man, the 2015 GS 350 ($48,600), is not to be overlooked — and with the F Sport trim, it certainly won’t be.
The base GS 350 is a decent-enough car, well styled and with adequate performance (and it only costs $48,600). But with a $4,825 upgrade to F Sport, you get what amounts to essentially an entirely new car, and a much better one.
When Lexus dropped off this Ultra White GS 350 F Sport, I immediately liked what I saw. My eyes were drawn to the 19-inch dark graphite alloy wheels, the upgraded spindle grille and the rear valance and spoiler. The F Sport interior brings a special steering wheel with a shape reminiscent of the LFA’s — a black headliner, striated aluminum inserts in the dash and aluminum pedals. It’s by no means a track car, but these well-appointed accents make a world of difference adapting it from just another luxury car to one made for someone who actually gives a crap.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Torque: 338 lb-ft
Drive System: RWD
0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds
Top Speed: 143 mph (limited)
MPG: 19/29/23 city/highway/combined
MSRP: $53,425 (base) / $59,200 (as tested)
The comfy leather and aluminum interior is easy on the eyes (and glutes), but it’s got brains as well. New for 2015 is Siri Eyes Free, integrating your phone into the car’s speech feature, a giant 12.3-inch screen configurable to three different functions (i.e. one screen is music, while another is navigation). Their Enform infotainment system has apps like iHeart Radio and an internal hard drive to allow pausing of music up to 20 minutes, like a DVR for radio.
These well-appointed accents make a world of difference adapting it from just another luxury car to one made for someone who actually gives a crap.
One technology I especially appreciated was Clari-fi, which comes with the 17-speaker 835W crystal-clear Mark Levinson audio system (for $1,380) and essentially uncompresses your digital files, putting them back to their (somewhat) original state. Your Apple Music never sounded so good. Unfortunately, navigating that as well as the rest of the Enform system via Lexus’s mouse-like joystick control was annoying and even worse, distracting while driving.
As far as driving performance, the F Sport upgrade brings with it a boost in performance in the way of those 19-inch wheels, stiffer sport suspension, bigger brakes and upgraded pads, upper and lower grille adjustments, and a rear valance and spoiler. It retains the same 3.5-liter V6 used in the standard GS, but gets a software upgrade adding the “Sport S+” mode, which sharpens the shift points and tightens the suspension and steering. It truly changes the car — in fact, the sport steering, along with the optional dynamic handling package that uses the rear wheels to steer, almost sent me into the curb because turn-in was so much more responsive. I loved it.
Lexus has sometimes been seen as a lower-tier luxury option for those disenchanted with German offerings, but in the past few years Lexus has come into their own with the hyper-rare LFA and more attainable RC F. Granted, the GS still appeals to the type of individual who is enticed by their brochure’s claims that it can “accompany four golf bags“, but at least the F Sport trim is there to step in and not only raise the profile of what you are driving, but also raise the hair on back of your neck.