The mid-size GS has always been the most fashionable four-door of the Lexus lineup, but that's not paid any big dividends since the first-generation, Giugiaro-penned original. A slow seller since, the GS has been rebooted this year with a look that's polarizing in lots of ways--in our virtual office, in photos, even within the GS' skin itself.
It's competing for attention from all angles, this GS, from its own more formal roofline to the sharklike snout that's the "new face of Lexus." Like it or not--and some of do, quite a bit--the double-boomerang frames the grille and makes the shape instantly identifiable. It's not yet cliched, though we might feel differently once it wends its way across everything from the LFA supercar to the RX 350 crossover. That said, the striking effect gets undercut by the busy strakes and foglights that ruffle underneath on F Sport cars, by the LED underliner on the headlamps.
It's not entirely related to the rest of the car, either. Of all the GS sedans we've seen flow out of Lexus' studios, this one's the most upright. The side glass and the cut of the D-pillar echoes strongly of the 2002-2010 BMW 7-Series, where the GS' entire history put low, sleek lines higher on the honey-do list. At first glance challenging and bristling with detail and surface excitement, the GS 350 settles down quickly and comfortably into your brain.
The cabin does something similar, even as it executes a 180-degree turn from the softly rounded, smoothly deployed ghost of Lexus past. There's a spartan vibe underneath that emanates from the horizontally themed dash, something akin to a Nakamichi sound system, all work while it plays, while cool LED ambient lighting glows around the perimeter and a high-resolution display sucks in all the attention, away from beautiful, big gauges. Real wood trim softens the cabin up well, while F Sport cars wear metallic-printed plastic that sounds less appealing than it looks. Padded leather panels in rich, deep hues keep the subtext alive: we're looking at something that's more live-performance studio than traditional Lexus library.