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Almost Sussed Out | Lexus GS 200t

BY Azfar Hashim

Now with a turbocharged engine option, can the GS finally send a tough warning to BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

Do you remember the days of compact discs, aka CDs? Those bulky, plate-shaped things that required an equally bulky CD player, aka Discmans, for you to listen to while on the go. It was a little inconvenient and sucks battery life as quickly as a W204 C63 AMG swallow premium petrol – which means you need to carry extra batteries (oh, and your 10-CDs booklet too) on top of that already bulky tool. So inconvenient, but what choices do we have to be entertained during commute? Stare into blank spaces? Nahhh…

But it all changed when Apple came along and introduced the iPod. It revolutionized how we listen to music on the go, made that little gadget smaller and smaller to the point it fits your skinny jean’s pocket, along with storage space enough to store all of Hillary Clinton’s – ahem – thousands of missing e-mails… and their attachments.

Think of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW as the iPods. As executive sedans, you can have your A6, 5 Series and E-Class with 16GB, 32Gb or 64Gb capacity – depending on your wants and fancies, you can have either a 1.8, 2.0 or 3.0 litre turbocharged Audi A6, 2.0 or 3.0 litre turbocharged BMW 5 Series (the former in two states of tunes, 520i and 528i) and the Mercedes E-Class – like BMW – with a force-fed 2.0 or 3.0 litre engines. And lets not get started on the S6, M5 or E63 AMG yet…

Which was a polar opposite when you look at Lexus’s approach. When first introduced locally back in 2012, you could only have them in two V6 variants: a 2.5-litre GS 250 or 3.5-litre GS 350. Yes, their quality and features actually posed a threat to the German trio, but in terms of performance, still not exactly potent enough.

Well to keep up with the trend, a few months back Lexus introduced the new turbocharged GS 200t; which all of us here at the Burnpavement office affectionately called, simply, the GSt (see what we did there?).

This one gets power courtesy of Lexus’s 241 bhp, 350 Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which were already deployed in the NX, IS and RX models. And I must say, Lexus got it right for this one.

It feels properly fast, and for sure, will not shy away during friendly competitions that also involves a 528i and Audi A6 2.0 TFSI; the E200 unfortunately might be left behind being the least powerful in this lot. Better still, you do not hear any gruff engine noises coming from the bonnet – you will only feel the forward tenacity and see the tachometer climbing with your speed fast defying the legal limit. And despite being a rear-wheel drive, there’s good grip from the chassis; no drama. Yes, all this while the GS 200t is set to ‘Sport’ mode.

Swapping it to ‘Normal’ mode simply meant it becomes Maybach-like comfortable.

Air-con control for rear passengers hidden in the arm rest

Air-con control for rear passengers hidden in the arm rest

Oh well, who am I kidding. In reality, Lexus had made their GS more driver-focused meaning the suspension errs towards the stiffer side of things which is a slightly different plot compared to its predecessor. Fret not though, it still remains bearable and the backseat passenger could still fall asleep comfortably without being woken up rudely when you drive along the KPE.

Surprisingly despite its rather large size, the GS 200t is able to have a fun side. You can drive it hard along a series of bend and corners and it is able to communicate what exactly the front two tyres are up to; at the same time, able to hold its rear together. To throw this car off guard, you need to be a special kind of reckless idiot to do so; strong brakes deserve praise too.

Interior wise, you get the typical Lexus quality; to the layman, it is simply faultless with solid build quality and the right amount of soft plastic and gloss woodwork combined to make it impressive. The seats are all comfortable and if you were to ask me to rate it next to the E200, A6 and 528i, I would gladly spend a week of my life in here without the need to get out. Even in the cockpit, you feel as one with the car thanks to the greatly sorted control buttons concluded with a well-sized steering wheel.

A G-monitor in a sedan like this - Lexus's engineers showing their playful side

A G-monitor in a sedan like this - Lexus's engineers showing their playful side

As perfect as it seemed, Lexus still haven’t sorted out the user-unfriendly multimedia system. The ‘mouse’ controller at times has it’s own mind; toggling between menus could get a tad frustrating. I don’t want to come across as being too pampered by the more intuitive systems seen in BMWs and Audis, but Lexus need to improve this bit of the car. This is not my first time highlighting this particular issue.

In its entire package, the Lexus GS 200t has all the right elements to give the Germans a hard time; performance, power delivery and balanced comfort/sport suspension set up wise, it could give even a 3 Series owner - looking to upgrade - something to really think about.

It’s just the tech bit – still behind the Germans.

18-inch alloys a standard affair

18-inch alloys a standard affair

More than 500-litres worth of space in the boot

More than 500-litres worth of space in the boot