Stick Shift: Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

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By: Brandon Randall

The 2015 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport comes to us with a coupe inspired design and all the luxury and flare of the Lexus brand. Is it enough to close the gap on its Euro rivals? Starting at just over 53k, the GS in F-Sport trim isn’t cheap, but there’s no denying the balance of automotive bang and bliss you’ll get for your money.

Exterior lines are sharp and florid. Beautiful 19″ split five spoke wheels in a dark finish are tucked beneath tastefully flared fenders. The trademark hourglass grill doesn’t seem forced anymore, but is the centerpiece to an aggressively sculpted front bumper, flanked by menacing headlights glaring up at you like the monster underneath your childhood bed. With a rear lip spoiler, upper and lower grill inserts and a rear valence, the GS F-Sport is a far cry from your grandparents Lexus.

So it doesn’t look soft and spineless, but does the personality match the outfit? With its wide track and rigid body, plus the extra edge from the F-Sport package, it absolutely does. That additional Sport + mode gives the 3.5L V6 just enough bark under wide open throttle to get your heart rate up. This mode also turns the gauge cluster a fiery red. You’ll feel the suspension tighten down and the steering become heavier and more responsive. The paddle shifters are definitely the preferred method of changing gears in this mode.

In addition to this, the powertrain livens up, with more aggressive throttle mapping and faster gear changes from the 8-speed automatic transmission. Shift points become dynamic and stay high, allowing you to power out of corners with all 306 horses unleashed. Eco mode is an option for the emissions conscience commuter, and a normal mode balances the two extremes nicely.

The 2015 GS 350 F-Sport exudes just as much quality and performance on the inside as it does on the outside. Everything in the cabin is beautifully appointed and easily accessible. It’s comfortable, quite and clean. The light stitching against black leather and striated aluminum trim looks great and the seats offer plenty of support without compromising comfort. The retracting sunshade, impressive Mark Levinson sound system and roomy rear seats with audio and climate controls remind you during all the driving fun that this is first and foremost, a Lexus.

It might not have the rawness of the similarly priced Cadillac CTS-V with its big turbo and 400hp output, but the 2015 Lexus GS 350 F -Sport squeezes a lot out of what it’s been given. Switch it into a soft mode like Eco and enjoy the long open road in quite comfort. Turn the dial to Sport + and brace yourself for the Dr. Jekyl-like transformation. This car goes the distance to give you the best of both worlds.

Price as tested: $48,600 

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