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Lexus GS300

2006-07-13 15:12

The GS300 is to take aim at the 5 Series and E-Class

John Oxley

The car is 20 mm longer than its predecessor, and combines a 50 mm longer wheelbase with short front and rear overhangs, a wider rear track and big wheel arches to accommodate 17 inch alloy wheels.

Inside the car has an even more upmarket look, and can stand proud against the vehicles it's most likely to compete against, the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class.

Under the skin there are massive changes, too, not least of which is the implantation of an all-new 183 kW 3-litre V6 engine.

Two models

There are two trim versions of the Lexus GS300. The Lexus GS 300 comes equipped only with a slick-shifting 6-speed auto/manual sequential gearbox, and costs R425 400, while its better-equipped GS300 SE partner comes in at R457 350.

Both versions feature a comprehensive list of comfort specifications including full leather interiors and wood trim.

The electric seat adjustment has memory functions for driver and front passenger as well as seat heaters. Dual zone climate control with a pollen filter is also included, as is a leather multi-function steering wheel with electric reach and height adjustment.

The interior lighting package sees bright white LED illumination.

Cruise control, electro-chromatic rear view mirrors, automatic lights, and an easy-close boot lid are all standard. One-touch electric windows and a six-CD Lexus Premium Sound System are also included.

There's also a keyless entry system where the key - which can be left in your pocket - senses your proximity to the car (within 1 metre) and allows you to get into the vehicle and start it without having to unlock the doors.

The GS300 features a 16.5 cm colour monitor as standard, with EMV and Bluetooth connectivity and park distance control (PDC) with sonar. An electric sunblind completes the package.

The SE model, due here in the last quarter of 2006, is identified by a lip spoiler on the boot lid and adds navigation, coolers for the front seats, a Mark Levinson digital surround sound system, a moon roof, and a back guide monitor with camera to the PDC system.

Big alloy wheels

There are 17 inch alloy wheels on both models with the option of an 18-inch rim. There's also an alloy spare wheel.

Under the bonnet is a direct injection 3-litre V6 petrol engine with double overhead camshafts and

dual VVT-I variable intake and exhaust valve timing..

It develops 183 kW at 6 200 r/min and 310 Nm of torque at only 3 500 r/min to give 0-100 km/h in 7.2 seconds and a top speed of 235 km/h.

Claimed overall fuel consumption is 9.8 litres/100 km.

The GS300 features a new electronically controlled 6-speed close-ratio ECT automatic transmission incorporating a sequential shift mode.

It also has an Artificial Intelligence (AI-SHIFT) control that automatically adapts gear shifting according to road conditions and driving style..

Electric power steering (EPS) is standard, while suspension sees a double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension system.

Safety features include no fewer than 10 airbags, as well as ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BAS).

Also standard are traction control and the latest vehicle stability control (VSC) system.

Intelligent Adaptive Front Lighting System (I-AFS swivels the headlamps through up to 15 degrees to illuminate around a bend.

On the road

We had perfect weather in the Cape for the first day of this two day, two model launch, and this enabled us to test out the superb ride qualities.

Despite the parlous state of some of our roads these days there wasn't one moment I felt shaken about in the car, yet handling was crisp and positive.

Proof that a well designed suspension doesn't have to be rock hard to give top roadholding and handling.

I was also impressed by the quietness of the car. We were at all times able to converse at normal voice levels, even when travelling at high speed, with nary a whisper of wind or road noise, and only an inkling of engine.

The interior of the car is VERY luxurious, with wood and leather predominant, and it was great to get into a car which has ample legroom in the back.

Although this isn't the sort of car you're going to chuck around on the road, it proved surprisingly nimble on tighter bends, while long fast sweeps were its real forte, and dispatched without drama.

Oh, and it's rear-wheel drive, so you get all the power down, and you can even get the tail out a bit before the stability control takes over.

Inside Wheels24

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