Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sweet Smell of Success

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sweet Smell of Success

Article excerpt


Toyota confounded its critics and the Lexus became a best-seller. The GS430 should continue the trend, says David Williams

WHEN Toyota unleashed its Lexus marque on an unsuspecting world in the 1980s, the intention was always to take on the might of the Germans with their BMWs, Mercedes and Audis. The Japanese started at the top with the big, super-sophisticated LS400 that delivered a high level of refinement and more gizmos and computers than the early Moon rockets. Then the company built up the range by introducing the more compact but still luxurious GS range that competes with the likes of the BMW 5-Series.

Critics who said the lack of pedigree would hamper Lexus were soon proved wrong.

The badge is now a force to be reckoned with both here and in the demanding US market where Lexus is a household name for quality and prestige, ranking firmly alongside Mercedes.

Lately, the firm has improved the LS further by giving it a bigger 4.3-litre V8 engine and Toyota has begun producing cars that motorists outside the rarefied "executive" sector can enjoy, such as the IS200 that competes with the BMW 3-Series and the smooth, competent RX300 off-roader.

In a further bid to plug the gaps in its line-up Lexus has now brought out a high-performance version of its middle-ranking GS.

Whereas before it was driven only by a three-litre six-cylinder engine, giving more than adequate performance - 0-62mph in just over eight seconds and a top speed of 143mph - the latest addition to the range now has a whopping great V8 engine with clever, variable valve timing that churns out 283bhp and masses of torque: the low-down pulling power that makes a big car so driveable.

According to figures from Lexus, the GS430 is capable of rocketing from 0-62mph in a dazzling 6.3 seconds, while its top speed is limited to 155mph.

What they don't say, of course, is where on earth you're going to be able to exploit this kind of performance in the London area or the rest of the South-East, for that matter.

Fortunately, for those lucky owners who don't get the chance to unleash the blistering performance, there are still considerable compensations. …

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