A more budget friendly alternative

The Lexus GS 200t is a new addition to the refreshed GS range and we got to spend a week in this very impressive vehicle.

I recently spent some time in the Lexus IS with the same engine. While I didn’t get to drive it, I had strong opinions on that particular car and it left me feeling slightly underwhelmed. The IS, in the company of its peers, looked dated and boring to be honest. So, it was with great excitement that I accepted the GS because I wanted to experience a good-looking Lexus. And I was not disappointed.

Lexus GS

The Lexus GS cuts a striking pose and it certainly turns heads with its bold and sharp styling. The updated front and rear lights add to the sporty look of the GS, while the chrome tailpipes and alloy wheels give it a classy demeanour.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way. Let’s talk about that 2.0-litre engine. It wasn’t too long ago that a turbocharged unit didn’t exist at all in the Lexus range and we’re happy to see that it’s making its way through the range (you can find it in the IS, NX SUV and the RC). Pushing out 180 kW at 5 800 r/min and 380 N.m between 1 640 and 4 400 r/min, there is ample shove with little lag. The 8-speed automatic box switches through cogs smoothly and there are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel should you wish to take over the gear changes. Lexus claims a zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 230 km/h, plenty fast.

Lexus GS

Dynamically, the Lexus GS 200t is sound. There is little intrusion from bumpy roads and corners are handled with ease with minimal body roll. Work your way through the different driving modes – standard, eco, normal, sport – for a different feel to the chassis and a different response from the engine. Not keen on dynamic or sporty driving? No sweat. The GS 200t is a great cruiser too. The blown engine is said to consume only 8.0-litres/100km, but I wasn’t able to get to this number. I eventually gave the vehicle back with an average consumption of close to 12.0 litres/100 km, whoops. CO2 emissions are claimed at186 g/km.

There’s a lengthy list of standard features such as Satellite Navigation via one of the largest touchscreen displays (12.3 inch) we’ve ever come across, plus a large 4.2-inch multi-information display that puts vital vehicle data at a quick glance in driver’s line of sight, cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, electric windows all around, dual-zone climate control, leather seats and much more that you can read about here. Standard safety features include ABS, hill assist, park distance control, traction control, vehicle stability control, drive and passenger airbags, curtain airbag, knee airbag and more.

Lexus GS interior

At a starting price of R 723 000, it’s not an easy-on-the-pocket buy. So, what we’re in need of here is some perspective. Take the BMW 5 Series as an example. The equivalent model is the 528i. The engine outputs are similar with 180 kW and 350 N.m. The starting price is R784 500 and I stopped adding the relevant extras to get it up to spec with the Lexus as soon as the said extras added up to almost R50 000 more. I can tell you now that whatever Audi or Mercedes-Benz has to offer up as competition to this will be similar to the BMW in that there will be a lead-in starting price and then your extras will bring the car to much more than that. I realise that in this segment there is a lot of brand loyalty and bias so BMW lovers will buy the 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz followers will want the E-Class. But do yourself a favour and have a look at the GS while you shop around. It’s worth the effort…and the purchase.

Words: Kelly Lodewyks