Lexus redesigned the GS 430 sport sedan and its GS 300 companion for 2006. The GS 430 gains a load of new technology, including a new six-speed-automatic transmission and Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system. This is the quickest Lexus ever produced � the company claims the car is capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.
Mike Wells, vice president of sales and dealer development, said that with all of its helpful technology, the GS 430 will change the conception of what a performance sedan is all about. Lexus used the BMW 5 Series sedan as a benchmark to develop the latest GS and acknowledged that BMW and Mercedes-Benz are the leaders in this category.
The GS 430 is substantially more aerodynamic than its predecessor and again comes with rear-wheel drive. A 4.3-liter V-8 resides under the GS 430's hood. A new V-6 goes into the GS 300, and that model is covered separately in the cars.com Research section.
Wells said the VDIM system makes nearly invisible corrections to the vehicle. VDIM anticipates instability or skidding before it occurs, monitors actual versus intended action, and helps to correct problems using a mix of braking, throttle and steering control.
A new Smart Access and Start system includes a push-button starter to fire the engine. An option group couples adaptive laser cruise control with a pre-collision system that can take appropriate steps when sensors detect that a crash is imminent. Dealerships began receiving the GS 430 in February 2005.
The automaker claims the GS is more futuristic than its predecessor with its long hood and set-back cabin. Featuring uncluttered sheetmetal, the GS 430 has a very short rear deck and wide tapered C-pillars that flow back toward the rear of the car.
Long side glass and a steep back window enhance the GS 430's performance image. The sedan's dimensions have grown: Overall length is slightly greater at 190 inches, its width is fractionally larger at 71.7 inches, and the wheelbase has grown to 112.2 inches. Aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires, and all-season run-flat tires are optional.
Lexus' Adaptive Variable Suspension automatically selects appropriate damping and incorporates sport and manual modes. Variable gear-ratio steering allows tight cornering but slows the car down at high speeds. Differential steering control includes up to 2 inches of active steering if the driver encounters a side wind. A brake-pedal stroke sensor is installed; when tapping on the brake pedal on a downgrade, the transmission will downshift and remain in that gear.
Up to five occupants can luxuriate in the GS 430's leather seats. Lexus claims the GS offers more legroom and greater front headroom than a BMW 5 Series sedan. Regency leather comes in a choice of three colors. Heated front seats are standard, and fan ventilation is optional. The dashboard is trimmed with genuine Birds Eye maple or California walnut wood. A variable transparency lens reduces glare on the gauges on sunny days, and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard.
A 7-inch dashboard screen can work with the optional navigation system. A 10-speaker sound system is standard, and a Mark Levinson surround-sound system with 14 speakers is optional. Trunk space totals 12.7 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
A 4.3-liter V-8 generates 300 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 325 pounds-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm. The V-8 drives a six-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates Normal, Power and Snow modes and has a manual-shift provision. The engine operates with a drive-by-wire throttle.
New front knee airbags, side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard. Lexus' optional pre-collision system incorporates active braking, which can trigger the brakes automatically under certain conditions.
The V-6-powered GS 300 delivers such impressive performance, so there's little reason to buy a GS 430 strictly for its V-8 engine. Though the GS 430 is packed with innovative technology, and its operation is simple in ordinary driving. This technology enhances � rather than diminishes � the motoring experience.