News of the week and Lexus GS 350F review | #eBizMotoring | Thegandra Naidoo

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News of the week:

  • Toyota launches a Limited Edition version of its popular 86 model.
  • The newest model to join the line-up is available in only red and white, and receives deep front splitter and lower side skirts, a very large rear wing and Limited Edition badging.
  • Red accents in the cabin differentiate the interior from other 86 models.
  • Other changes include slight more rigid suspension se-up, daytime-running lights (DRLs) for the High and Limited derivatives, a new audio system with full Bluetooth functionality and the option of satellite navigation.
  • Now, the history of this car harks to predecessor models of similar stature from the earlier 60s. Some of these include the halo 2000 GT and the AE86.
  • TSA also boasts about the 86mm exhaust tailpiece, the 86mm x 86mm bore and stroke, etc.
  • The 86 shares its platform with the Subaru BRZ; they are identical in every way possible.
  • Unfortunately, this model features only cosmetic changes and no upgrades to the power output, which is a little disappointing, considering its heritage.
  • Another shortfall is that it’s marketed as a car for “drifting”. When it launched in 2012, TSA ran campaigns marketing the vehicle as a “drift” car, which, in my opinion, promotes unsafe driving.
  • It’s also marketed as the most affordable sports coupe on the market, but boyracers would rather get behind the wheel of a Renault Megane RS or a Golf GTI at that price, because they offer better performance and a better overall package.
  • And, at R376 000 for the flagship 86, I’m afraid, it isn’t quite the car that I would want to own.
  • Nevertheless, 1600 units have been sold since its launched in 2012. Only 86 Limited Edition units will be sold in South Africa.

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Lexus GS350 F-Sport

The Lexus GS350 F-Sport goes head to head against the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Its daunting competition, so can the luxury Japanese sedan match up?

If you weren’t aware, Lexus stands for Luxury EXport United States and was Toyota’s solution to the problem of Americans regarding Toyota products as inferior. Simply put, Toyota up-specced its offerings and slapped on a new brand badge on the nose.

Today Lexus is one of the most popular brands in the United States. It doesn’t do too badly here in South Africa either, with solid offerings in the form of the BMW 3-Series rivalingIS350 and GS.

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Performance and engine

A big and dynamic-looking vehicle such as the Lexus GS350 F-Sport demands performance to match the looks. In this case, a big 3.5L V6 does duty. This big motor serves up 233 kW and 378 Nm – impressive.

What sweetens the deal is as you accelerate, the engine noise changes from a mechanical purr to a solid V6 roar, which is lovely. The Lexus is a good performer though. Expect 100 kph to come up in about 6 seconds, which is plenty performance. The downside of revving the big Lexus GS350 F-Sport is the fuel consumption. I tried my best in Eco Mode and couldn’t get the trip computer under 12.9 l /100 km.

 

Lexus GS350 F-Sport specification

You’d be hard-pressed to beat the standard specification of the Lexus GS350 F-Sport. When people say a car comes fully equipped, this vehicle should epitomise that phrase.

There’s daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlights, adaptive variable suspension, F-sport bodykit, 19” gunmetal grey alloys, 16-way adjustable driver’s seat, both the driver and passengers seats are heated/ventilated leather units, leather gearshift and steering wheel, different driving modes, reverse camera, satnav and a 12.3 inch multimedia display with computer mouse controller.untitled2

Ride and drive

What’s it like to drive, you ask? There are the aforementioned driving modes, which each offer a different experience. Normal is well, normal. Put it into Eco and the car loses some performance as it tries to optimise everything for economy.

Things get interesting as you hit Sport, as the engine feels free and eager to please. Put it into Sport Plus and the throttle sharpens up and the active variable suspension firms up. For that full experience, switch to manual mode and change gears using the steering-wheel mounted paddles.

The ride is firm and refined, with very little noise coming in from the outside. There’s a slight road noise and I would guess that’s coming from the low-profile tyres. In Eco mode (which I heartily recommend for daily use), you’ll notice the vehicle is fantastic at being an open-road cruiser. Few cars are this comfortable, solid and stable.

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Summary

The Lexus GS350 F-Sport makes a refreshing alternative to the standard German trio. It has a great engine soundtrack and gadgetry to keep you entertained, and there’s plenty of space to boot. It’s big, solid and I think it looks terrific.

The only gripe for me was that fuel consumption, something which is vital in the modern day. It’s competition all make do with smaller turbocharged engines which offer adequate performance. That said, if you’re after performance and economy, then consider the Lexus GS450h hybrid.

 

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Thegandra Naidoo in conversation with eBizRadio’s Nick Snow

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