2003 Lexus GS 430 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
September 1, 2003


It’s been more than five years since Lexus introduced its sporty, aggressively styled GS sedans, and as we found out in a recent week with a new GS430, Lexus’s first focused sports sedan still ranks high in style, performance, and luxury.

While the GS430’s larger sibling the LS430 remains focused on comfort and technology features, the GS’s hunkered-back silhouette, chunky, prominent C-pillar, and aggressive front-and rear-end treatments all make it clear that it’s a bit more of a sport sedan than a luxury car.

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But any sport-sedan compromises are barely noticeable. As the fastest car in the Lexus lineup—and one of the fastest regular-production sedans available from any automaker—the GS430 encompasses several personalities all at the same time. It’s as much an isolating stop-and-go commuter as it is a carver of tight hairpin mountain roads, a sedate highway cruiser, or a high-speed stormer.

Strong, silent type

The 300-hp, 4.3-liter V-8 engine is the strong, silent type, pulling smoothly all the way up to redline without the loud fanfare that accompanies some other performance sedans. With 325 lb-ft of torque, it’s punchy and eager from a standstill, as any good V-8 should be. Floor the gas pedal at any speed, and your head will be pulled back: no fuss, just fast (Lexus’s official 0-60 mph time is 5.8, and it’s on the conservative side). And if you turn off the standard VDC stability control, you can get your childish kicks with a good ol’ fashioned peelout.

The GS430 (and, for that matter, the GS300, too) only comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, which has ideally matched ratios for the 4.3-liter V-8 and seems well mated to the engine. Upshifts and downshifts are smooth yet snappy, and you’ll seldom find the need to shift manually, as it just seems to find the best gear for the situation, quickly. It adjusts shift points not only based on your throttle foot, but also to the slope of the road, cornering forces, and other variables.

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