I’ll get to Road & Track’s actual 2012 Lexus GS 350 preview in a second, but first take a look at this short little video showing the next-gen GS in action:
Being Road & Track, their preview is much more technically minded, with special detail on the new suspension setup and how it differed between the standard GS 350 and its F-Sport counterpart:
Fun-to-drive aspects of the GS prototype start with a refined platform that’s stiffer via added gauge and additional reinforcement here and there as well as an increase in spot and laser weld points. A newly designed unequal-length A-arm front suspension both widens the track by 1.6 in. and also sheds 4.4 lb., a significant portion of this being unsprung weight (the minimization of which aids road holding). At the rear, there are separate coil spring and shock mountings; this, to optimize their functions. There’s also a rear-placed toe control arm that plays more than a passive role when the car’s optional Dynamic Rear Steering is fitted.
The two prototypes differed in tire size, 235/45R18s on the lesser one, a front/rear split of 235/40R19s and hefty 265/35R19s respectively on the sportier one. The latter also had the full-house handling package with Lexus Dynamic Handling, Variable Gear Ratio Steering and the Dynamic Rear Steering already noted.
The F Sport package for the new GS looks like a significant performance upgrade, sounding closer to the LS 460 Sport than the IS F Sport package — it will be interesting to see if any of the handling upgrades will be available on the standard GS as well.
Last thing, here’s some info on the GS Drive Mode Select, which has four settings: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport S+:
I also got to fool with Lexus’s latest Drive Model Select. A rotary knob on the center console gives options of Eco, Normal, Sport S and (if optionally fitted) Sport S+. The two Sport modes firm the suspension, modify steering feel, finesse the traction/stability control and affect shift schedules. If I had my dritters, I’d make S+ settings more aggressively recognizable. A center-mounted shifter has a left-gate slap-shift feature that’s also invoked (easier, I say) by steering-wheel paddles. Like the best of such systems, this one blips throttle artfully on manual-range downshifts.