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First look: GS takes a new direction

Looking to the future: The new GS won’t make it to Australia until 2005. Look out for a V8 option and all-wheel drive when it lobs.

Lexus stops aping BMW by going V6 and all-wheel drive with the next GS

9 Jan 2004

LEXUS has veered its GS sedan away from being a technology clone of BMW, revealing the third generation of the luxury mid-sizer will come with a V6 engine and all-wheel drive.

The first two generations of the GS have been fitted with an inline 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive, reflecting the set-up of the BMW 5-series, the benchmark in this segment of the market.

But Toyota’s luxury arm is obviously intent on heading in a new direction as it prepares for introduction for the first time of the brand into Japan in 2005.

The third generation GS was revealed this week at the Detroit auto show, but will not go on-sale in the USA until 2005. The car will also come to Australia in 2005.

Good news for local GS fans is that Australia should also get the 4.3-litre V8 engined version of the next GS, while all-wheel drive is on the shopping list.

Toyota Australia sources indicated to GoAuto this week that a 3.0-litre V6 version of the new GS was a definite, the V8 was being pursued and that all-wheel drive was “potentially” the only drive system that would be offered, although rear-wheel drive was also possible.

The first generation GS was never sold in Australia, while the second generation was introduced in November 1997. It sold a promising 1019 examples in 1998, but has slid away dramatically since then, with only 135 sold in 2003.

The styling of the latest GS is an evolution of the previous cars as well as showing off some elements of the streamlined LF-S concept shown at Tokyo last October. However, reports at the time that the LF-S was the latest generation GS have been truly debunked.

The car is 4821mm long, 1821mm wide, 1425mm high and has a wheelbase of 2850mm, 51mm longer than old car.

Inside, Lexus has styled the interior to be lighter, brighter and airier than its predecessors.

The GS300’s new 3.0-litre V6 engine produces 181kW/309Nm, while the GS430’s 222kW/441Nm V8 is carry-over. Both engines are teamed with an all-new close-ratio six-speed automatic transmission with a sequential manual-shifting mode.

Equipment revealed in Detroit included Vehicle Dynamic Management (which is an upgrade of Vehicle Dynamic Control), keyless entry, adaptive headlights, a rear view camera, tyre pressure warning system and front passenger and driver knee airbags.

The GS will also offer an optional Pre-Collision System to help reduce collision injury and damage.

The system uses a wave radar sensor to detect obstacles in front of the car while a pre-collision system computer works to determine in advance whether a collision is unavoidable.

If a collision is anticipated, the system pre-emptively retracts front seat belts and prepares Brake Assist for increased braking force to help reduce collision speed.

A new adaptive variable suspension was also revealed in Detroit. This allows the driver to fine-tune suspension damping with four settings ranging from normal-mode for everyday driving to a sport-mode for a tighter, more precise feel.

Local pricing and spec is still some time from being announced.

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