Lexus GS (2012-2015) Review

Refined executive car has a relaxing drive

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Innovative technology
  • Fun F-Sport model
  • Large infotainment screen
  • Interior trails German rivals
  • Tiny engine range
  • Competitors are better dynamically

£31,630 - £55,905 Price range

5 Seats

46 - 60 MPG


The three previous generations of GS were ‘left-field’ choices, but Lexus hopes this fourth generation has a broader appeal when compared to its predecessors. And, to an extent, the critics seem to agree that the Japanese company has pulled it off.

Refinement and build quality are top notch, running costs are incredibly low in hybrid GS450h guise and it’s far better to steer than previous versions. However, in quite a few key areas, the GS still lags behind the class standard.

As with all cars built by Lexus, there isn’t much to complain about with regards to interior build quality. Some critics didn’t feel it was as luxurious as its German competitors, but despite this, everything was well screwed together, and features some very cool detailing – for instance, the metal trim on the dash that houses the clock was machined out of a single block of aluminium.

Space inside is also decent enough for a car of this type, with good room up front and a wide boot opening. However, despite the GS being 30mm taller than its predecessor, passengers over six-feet tall will be short of headroom in the back, and the load space in the GS450h is limited as a result of the intrusive battery packs.

Lexus GS F interior

To differentiate the most powerful GS from lesser models Lexus has given the interior a decent make-over and now it’s more driver focused and sporty. There are lots of F badges and carbon fibre trim as well as new white LED mood lighting.

The most notable feature, though, are the seats. Their design mimics the human body and should provide the best support and comfort out of any car. The high seatbacks are another nod towards the performance aspirations of the car.

Lexus has been making cars that prioritise comfort and refinement over dynamics for years, and the new GS is no exception – whilst the BMW 5 Series would walk all over it in terms of handling and road-holding, the GS is an exceptionally refined car at any speeds, especially when the hybrid GS450h is running on electric power. However, the GS is actually a much more engaging car to drive than the previous model, and most critics reckon a majority of buyers will be satisfied with the way the GS goes down the road.

What got on some road tester’s nerves, though, was the quality of the ride. Even on the top-spec cars with adaptive suspension, the car never really seems to settle over anything other than smooth roads. Not even the seats that took Lexus five years to make as comfortable as they could possibly be can soak up all of the imperfections that the suspension can’t iron out.

Lexus GS F driving

The GS F has a completely redesigned suspension set-up that is way too boring to explain, but according to reviewers it improved the way the car drives immensely. Gone is the unsettledness of the regular GS and it’s replaced by the accuracy and agility that rivals such as the Mercedes E63 AMG and BMW M5 simply can’t match. This is partly because the GS F is significantly lighter than both the E63 and the M5 and partly because it has one of the best electric steering system currently on sale.

Whilst almost all executive cars on the market come with the option of a diesel motor, Lexus is only offering petrol hybrids in the GS – a 2.5-litre four-cylinder with 223hp, and a 3.5-litre V6 with 345hp. Cynics of electric power, don’t be put off yet, as they seem to be decent enough powertrains.

For instance, both engines are incredibly refined, no matter what speed you’re driving at, and the GS450h is incredibly efficient for what is a two tonne petrol-powered executive car – whilst the claimed 43mpg won’t set the world on fire, the claimed 141g/km of CO2 emissions mean the road tax bill is, for a car of this calibre, quite affordable.

However, most of the critics reckon the GS300h is a bit down on power and torque, and you have to work it fairly hard if you want to get up to any speed. The CVT transmissions that come in the GS were also met with a bit of criticism, as it appears to be a bit dim-witted in fully auto mode and isn’t the most refined unit on the market.

lexus GS F engine

The star of the GS F show is probably the engine. When all the rivals use turbochargers, Lexus have used extensive race car know-how to produce nearly 500hp from a 5.0-litre V8. The amount of technology is mind-boggling – the engine can run in two different combustion methods depending on usage, for example. There is an engine sound enhancer, but most reviewers suggest to switch it off and enjoy the natural sound of the engine. The focus of the car was cornering balance, so the 4.6 seconds to 62mph aren’t exactly headline-grabbing.

When you find out that all trim-levels of the Lexus GS come with 10 airbags as standard equipment, you know that you are in a car that takes safety very seriously indeed. It hasn’t been assessed by Euro NCAP yet, but the smaller IS saloon and CT200h hatchback both achieved a full five-star safety rating, suggesting the GS will follow suit.

As well as the abundant airbags, there’s also just about every electronic safety aid known to man as either standard or optional equipment in the GS. If safety features are high on your list of requirements for your new car, you won’t be disappointed with the Lexus.

In some areas, the Lexus GS does provide glimpses of good value for money. After all, standard equipment levels are impressive – all cars come with heated and cooled seats, a reversing camera, ten airbags and parking sensors on all but the most basic models. Running costs should also be low if you don’t spend too much time on the motorway.

That said, some highly economical diesel rivals return better mpg figures, and a few undercut the Lexus on price. Residual values also aren’t expected to be as strong as they are for the more desirable cars in this class.

If you’re an enthusiastic driver, then you may want to take a look at the F-Sport trim, which brings with it a more ‘aggressive’ bodykit, firmer suspension and even rear-wheel steering. However, with the stiffer setup, there is a compromise on ride quality.


In quite a few ways, the Lexus GS is a very commendable all-rounder. After all, if you’re after a smartly styled, well-appointed and refined executive car with petrol power and niche appeal, the GS should be right up there at the top of your shopping list – as far as ‘bit-part’ players go, the Lexus GS one of the best you’ll come across.

Of course, the more dominant cars in this class are at the top of the charts for a reason, and the Lexus GS can’t quite match the class leaders as an all-rounder, so we wouldn’t recommend it over some of the more capable competition.

That said, the GS does have its appealing quirks, so is definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a high-end saloon car that isn’t simply a German facsimile.