2012 Lexus GS250 review
The GS's styling might not stand out next to that of rivals such as the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, but the unusual engine line-up does. Most executive saloons come with a range of petrol and diesel engines, but GS buyers are limited to a 2.5-litre V6 in the GS250 and a 3.5-litre V6 linked to an electric motor in the petrol-hybrid GS450h.
This is our first chance to drive the entry-level GS250 model in the UK. Prices start at £32,995.
What’s the Lexus GS250 like to drive?
We drove a GS250 Luxury model, which comes with conventional springs and dampers. The top two trims get an adaptive damping system, which can be switched between suspension settings.
Lexus GS is a big car and feels its size on the road
The ride on the standard set-up is generally compliant, and copes well with bumpy UK roads. Lexus says the new GS is more entertaining and sportier than the previous model, but it's at its best on the motorway, where it's a refined and comfortable cruiser.
Head off the motorway, though, and the GS feels every bit the large saloon. You're aware of its weight shifting around through corners, and even when you pull out of junctions. The vague steering doesn’t help matters.
GS250 has a six-speed automatic gearbox as standard
The 2.5-litre V6 feels strained when building up speed, which isn't surprising given that it has just 186lb ft of torque to call on. The engine sounds boomy when pushed, and the six-speed automatic gearbox is keen to drop down a gear, which keeps noise levels high.
What’s the Lexus GS250 like inside?
The GS's interior mostly lives up to its Lexus's luxury brand status: the majority of the cabin materials look and feel the part and build quality is excellent. Some of the minor controls have a disappointingly lightweight, dated, feel, however.
Interior space is good, but not as generous as in most rivals. Taller rear-seat passengers might find headroom a little tight. Over-the-shoulder visibility isn’t great, either, although the driver is helped out by a blindspot-monitoring system, which is standard on all but entry-level SE cars.
Remote Touch system is fiddly to use
All GS models get electric driver’s seat and steering wheel adjustment, a DAB radio, parking camera and climate control.
The cabin's least appealing feature is the Remote Touch Interface, which is standard for Luxury and F Sport models. You navigate the multimedia screen using a computer mouse-style button that isn’t particularly easy to control: even switching between radio bands is tricky.
Should I buy one?
Most executive cars are bought with diesel engines: the GS250's petrol engine is desperately inefficient by comparison. CO2 emissions of 207g/km put it into the 32% company car tax bracket and average fuel economy is just 31.7mpg.
Its closest rival, the BMW 520i automatic averages 44.1mpg and, thanks to CO2 emissions of 149g/km, sits in the 20% tax bracket.
Figures for the BMW 520d automatic make even more alarming reading: it returns 58.9mpg, CO2 emissions of 123g/km and falls into the 19% tax category.
Prices for the GS250 start at £32,995 – £1325 more than a 520d SE automatic. Once you've totted up long-term ownership costs, it makes the Lexus very hard to recommend.
Hybrid-powered GS450h models are better to drive, faster and have lower emissions, but prices start at £44,995.
BMW 5 Series
Read our full Lexus GS review
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