By Mike Tucker
Lexus GS 350 F Sport
Inauguration weekend I had the pleasure of attending a host of events in the 2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport. A far departure from the unassuming and nearly unimpressive GS 350 that I test drove in December, the F Sport edition feels like a completely different car inside and out.
Let’s just say the F is for fast, furious, fun and functional. The sleek exotic look of the exterior is influenced by the Lexus’ groundbreaking $375,000 sports car, LFA. On one chance fall after noon in 2011 was invited by Lexus of Annapolis to check out the Lexus LFA, a opportunity I could not pass. I was wowed that it was a Lexus and hoped it marked a new direction for the luxury brand. Now with the F Sport you can see traces of the LFA in its design and performance.
Once inside the cabin, there is supple goodness all abound. Note the perforated leather trim is not just to add to the racecar inspired interior, it is for the heated and air-conditioned seats. Everything with this car makes it more functional and more of a pleasure to drive. The GS 350 F Sport radiates luxury as to be expected from Lexus while borrowing a few Mercedes Benz interior cues here and there.
What is uniquely Lexus is the Enform system, which connects the driver to a range of apps from Pandora for music to Open Table for reservations at DC’s finest restaurants. Enform also boasts a 24/7 service team a voice command away with turn by turn direction or other emergency needs one may have. Not having to fumble through the navigation prompts saved me time maneuvering the city and all the blocked off streets during Inauguration. It came in handy like the track that Beyonce used to sing the National Anthem. Enform is a nice addition to the long list of Lexus conveniences in this vehicle.
The audio system included DVD/CD player with Bluetooth technology, Itunes tagging of songs and a USB outlet. The sound was great clarity as I blasted out school R&B the whole weekend. I know Obama would have been proud of my music selection.
The Lexus GS 350 was like having four cars in one as it allows you to select the drive mode. The car adjusts the engine’s output, gas consumption, suspension tuning as you toggle through drive modes. It has multiple personalities to fit the driver. When you have to go to work or run errands, you put it on “ECO” to conserve gas. After hours when it’s date night or an outing with the kids you can switch it to “Normal” as not to disturb or alarm anyone. Then on the weekend during your midlife crisis or all around fun time you put it on “Sport” to get the party started. If you really want to let you hair down and feel the need for speed, “Sport S” is a rush.
The car can flat out go! Also it sticks to the road and handles with assuredness at high speeds. On a roadway with BMW and Mercedes, Lexus is aiming to level the driveway with the F Sport and it nearly does it on the first try.
Do remember the car is built for performance unlike the GS350 AWD. The F Sport was out of its element in the ice and snowstorm we had following the President being sworn in. It has a “Snow” button but its best left parked when you have to test that feature.
The combined gas mileage in the GS 350 F Sport is 23 miles per gallon. The vehicle takes premium unleaded and tempts the drive to be heavy footed but the different drive modes allows for some control. The estimated annual fuel cost is $2500. There are not a lot of reasons around the city to push this vehicle to its limits. The 308 horses underneath this hood are best left in the stable for the everyday driver. Speed can be intoxicating and in this car it will drive you straight to the pump.
Lexus is not just a laid back, cushy ride anymore. Lexus added angst and some street cred for DC streets. The GS 350 F Series has Lexus heading in the right direction; forward, fast.
2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport
Price Tag: $49,900base ($60,142 tested)
Power: 3.5L V6 Direct Injection 308 horsepower
Transmission: 6-speed Electronically Controlled Transmission w/ paddle shifters
Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel Drive
Fuel Economy (mpg): 19-city/28-hwy