With the technical presentation part of the day taken care of, I set out with partner-in-crime, Michael Ferrara from DSport, in a Liquid Platinum GS 350 equipped with the Premium Package — which is to say, heated/ventilated seats, a rear sunshade and rain-sensing wipers — and optioned with the 12.3″ navigation display and 18″ wheels.
Our first stop was a tiny roundabout overlooking Dana Point harbor, where we snapped a round of photos:
Somehow, the Liquid Platinum manages to not look like paint at all, but instead appears like glass, reflecting its surroundings and revealing every curve and fold in the sheetmetal. It’s also a great color for examining the exterior design — here’s some various observations:
- Even though parking the outgoing model next to the new GS side-by-side will show plenty of similarities, the subtle adjustments to the silhouette make the 2013 GS feel more like a traditional sedan.
- There’s a great balance to the design, with no element outweighing the rest of the vehicle. The spindle grille has received plenty of attention, sure, but it’s not out of place.
- The equipped 18″ optional wheel was my favorite design by far.
Back on the road, I spent my time in the passenger seat experimenting with the new Enform 2.0 system, which was using an iPhone 4 to provide connectivity. Unfortunately, these GS prototypes were not loaded with Facebook or Yelp — the two apps I was most interested in — but Pandora streaming worked well, as did the Bing voice search, though the search results are limited to locations only (Michael’s suggested example: “Brazilian Ju-Jitsu”).
After getting used to the previous Remote Touch system, it’s not a big jump to the new controller — at first, I found myself missing the dedicated ENTER buttons, but adjusted quickly. The new system needs a lighter touch than the previous generation, and once I realized that, I had no problem pushing down on the controller to select menu items.
With my time behind the wheel of this particular GS limited to just twenty minutes on the highway, I can only provide some broad strokes on performance:
- While I had my doubts about the 3.5L V6 engine being essentially untouched, but at no point did it feel like the 306 hp wasn’t enough. That said, the car could definitely handle a bigger engine, and I don’t think that’s just happenstance.
- In automatic, the reprogrammed six-speed transmission shifts beautifully and feels super smooth. No complaints at all.
- The engine sounds awesome — I loved slowing down just so I could floor it and listen to growl of the intake.
- The base model’s 10-way adjustable seats are super, really locking the driver in place with plenty of customization.
No sooner did I get comfortable than it was time to switch vehicles, and did we ever luck out, scoring a GS 350 F Sport in black — but more on that in the next part of my review. Until then, here’s some photos of the GS 350 in Rivera Red and Deep Sea Mica: