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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It's roomy, well equipped and refined

Against Its image is bland, and some rivals drive better

Verdict A spacious luxury saloon lacking in soul

Go for… 4.3 V8 petrol

Avoid… 3.0 V6 petrol

Lexus GS Saloon
  • 1. There have been reports of suspension faults, so listen carefully for knocking or clonking noises
  • 2. GS tends to get through brake pads rather quickly
  • 3. Even the base trim has climate control, electric rake- and reach-adjustable power steering, electric seats and a CD multichanger
  • 4. If the car has clocked up over 60,000 miles, make sure that the cambelt has been replaced
  • 5. Boot space is generous, as is rear-seat space
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Lexus GS Saloon full review with expert trade views

While the styling may not be to everyone’s taste, there's no arguing with the huge amount of space inside the GS. When this model was introduced in 1998, Lexus used a longer wheelbase than on the previous model, and that meant plenty of lounging room for all.

As you'd only expect, getting a good position behind the steering wheel is easy. In fact, every seat is comfortable and the overall feel is of a modern car with plenty of technology at your fingertips. Boot space is generous, too.

Even the mechanical parts are just as impressiev. The V8 engine, for example, idles so smoothly you almost have to rev it to check it’s running, and the straight six is impressive, too.

Sadly, the chassis is not so good. The steering is slightly vague and turn-in to corners is not as crisp as it should be. While the chassis rides motorways well enough, things aren’t so settled on twistier roads.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Limited numbers around, needs to be an SE or uprated '03 model

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Lexus’s standard equipment is staggeringly good. Even if you buy a very early entry-level S version, you'll still have alloy wheels, climate control, electric rake- and reach-adjustable power steering, electric seats and a CD multi-changer. SE trim adds desirables such as traction control and leather seats.

At launch there was just one engine and it does a more than adequate job. It’s a 3.0-litre, straight six, 216bhp unit, mated to a smooth five-speed automatic gearbox. Find a car with this engine and SE trim, and it's the best GS you can buy.

A sharper-handling Sport version was introduced in January 1999. However it produced no more power than the standard car.

The GS range was face-lifted in October 2000. At the same time a 280bhp V8 engine arrived, available in SE trim only. Although the outgoing Sport was dropped in 2000, a new version arrived in summer 2003 with retuned suspension, 18in alloy wheels and a body kit. But, none of these are good enough to change our mind that the 3.0 SE is the best combination.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

One of the better big executive cars

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

No matter how hard Lexus tried, and despite the car’s many strengths, the GS just isn’t as desirable as an Audi A6 or a BMW 5-Series. However, leaving that aside, the GS does have its merits. For a start, its prices are lower than those of its German rivals and, while the Lexus may not have the badge appeal, it is better equipped than a more expensive A6 or 5-Series.

The six-cylinder car sits in insurance group 15, while the V8 is two groups higher, but that's the biggest difference in cost between the two. Their fuel economy is very similar, with the 3.0-litre returning an official 24mpg and the 4.3 V8 managing 23mpg.

Both engines require servicing every 9000 miles and although Lexus dealerships do not charge as much as their Jaguar or Mercedes-Benz counterparts, they are still expensive. Independent experts aren't particularly cheap, either. So while a GS may be cheap to buy, don’t expect it to be cheap to run.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Limited numbers around, needs to be an SE or uprated '03 model

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Provided the person selling the car has bitten the bullet and had it serviced, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. Anything less than a top three position in customer satisfaction surveys is regarded as failure within Lexus, and the Japanese company’s reliability record is second to none.

That doesn’t mean you just smile and hand the cheque over, because there are still problems to look out for. There have been reports of suspension faults, for instance, so listen carefully for knocking or clonking noises. If the car has clocked up over 60,000 miles make sure that the cambelt has been replaced.

Ask for proof of when the brake pads were replaced, too, as the GS tends to get through them rather quickly. Also check that the anti-lock brake warning light comes on with the ignition and goes out afterwards.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

One of the better big executive cars

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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