2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport road test: Luxury automaker adds some moxie to its mid-size sedan

2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

The name alone  – 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport – telegraphs a broad hint as to what this new member of parent Toyota’s luxury division is all about.

Still, if the nomenclature alone doesn’t get the idea across, one look at the car certainly will. Rear spoiler. Snarly twin exhaust pipes. Angry spindle grille with upper and lower inserts. Nineteen-inch, five-spoke, dark graphic alloy wheels.

The Lexus GS 350 F Sport has comfortable, supportive front bucket seats.

The Lexus GS 350 F Sport has comfortable, supportive front bucket seats.

No doubt about it, the F Sport package has added some snap, crackle and pop to the fourth generation of what has been traditionally a somewhat soft mid-size sedan. And we’re not just talking about the trim. The engineers have upped the ante, too.

The reason, it appears, is simple. The Japanese automaker has increased the sport quotient of its sport/luxury sedan to better compete with its German arch rivals — Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — as well as Cadillac, Infiniti and Jaguar.

So, the question that needs to be answered is this: Has the sport massage raised the GS rear-wheel-drive sedan’s performance enough to make it a worthy alternative to the competitors?

I would say “Yes,” but the answer is not 100-percent clear cut. That’s because differences in driving habits (and abilities) evoke different opinions from drivers.

Behind the wheel, I’m sort of an everyman kind of motorist. Almost all of my driving is on ordinary roads in ordinary conditions. Racetracks and drag strips are not generally on my route.

I do admit I enjoy a competent car when I’m touring along scenic back roads where sweeping curves and mountainous switchbacks pop up repeatedly. But most of my miles are spent battling traffic or slogging along the interstate.

Lexus GS 350 rear seats

Lexus GS 350 F Sport rear seats

So, I found the Lexus GS 350 F Sport to be plenty competent in all of my driving situations. I enjoyed its comfort, its level of luxury, its responsiveness, its roadworthiness, the wonderful smoothness of its V-6 engine and its stability. There were no challenges I put to the Lexus that caused the car, or me, any real stress.

So far, so good, but I still needed something to compare the Lexus with.

I have regular access to one of the 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport’s main competitors so I hopped into that car and retraced one of the routes I had followed with the Lexus.

In my amateurish estimation, the differences between the two cars were small, but noticeable. Basically, I found that I was able to gun the competitor along the route at a greater speed with equal confidence.

Conclusion: The improvements in the new Lexus F Sport’s driving dynamics are obvious, and make it a more worthy alternative to the competition. For those motorists who insist on driving closer to the edge, well, you know where to go.