2008 Lexus Model Updates

By Bruce McCulloch

09.01.2007

If you’ve been thinking of picking up a Lexus GS, you might be best to hold off until the 2008 crop arrives with the introduction of a meatier 8-cylinder model.

For 2008, Lexus will be dropping the GS430, in favour of a brand new GS460 which will not only be benefiting from a more powerful engine, but a host of other exciting and enticing features.

Whilst Lexus has just (less than 48 hours ago) released the photo seen here of the updated ’08 model, they have deemed it appropriate to previously release a great deal of the model details through a press release from their pressroom. Should you not have access to their press room and am interested, I will be glad to give you information you’ll need (and want) to know should you be interested in placing an order on an 2008 Lexus GS.

The most obvious, and perhaps fundamental of changes which the ’08 GS benefits from is a modified 8-cylinder engine with not only more power, but more displacement. This updated model promises an extra .3 litres of displacement bringing the tally total to 4.6 litres with the addition of 342bhp peaking at 6,400 rpm with a robust 339lb-ft of torque rushing in at 4100 rpm. For respective comparison, this means the GS460 not only has an additional 52 some horsepower advantage over its previous model, but an extra 20lb-ft of torque as well. Unfortunately though, this extra bit of torque comes at a full 700 rpm later than the 430; nevertheless, Lexus promises its GS will hit zero-to-sixty in 5.4 seconds and top zero-to-one-hundred mph in 14.2 seconds.

And putting this additional power to the road is no longer the job of Lexus’ 6-speed automatic transmission, but rather the same 8-speed automatic transmission we’ve already seen showcased in their flagship model, the LS; and one that is soon to be seen on their performance flagship, the upcoming IS-F.

As I mentioned above, photos have yet to be released, but Lexus claims both the 2008 GS350 and GS460 will benefit from that of a “revised front bumper with lower-intake and front grille with chrome-plated surround”. Additionally, Lexus promises 2008 GS variants will feature “ultraviolet and infrared-ray reducing tinted glass for all windows”, “a new 17-inch designed alloy wheel” and the choice of two new exterior colours, “Golden Almond Metallic” and “Opaline Pearl”.

Should that not be enough to satisfy your tastes, you’ll be happy to hear that the interior will also feature a few new features to keep most any diehard Lexus enthusiast happy.

When it comes to the general interior ambience you’ll be delighted to hear that the GS will now offer the option of Light Gray Leather with the addition of a luxurious “Dark Gray Birds-Eye Maple wood trim” with the option of wood trim on the door switch plates. Further adding to the ’08 GS’s allure are “relocated fuel lid and trunk opener” as well as a “revised instrument cluster with revised aluminium brushing” and what-not. And to put the cherry on the top of the cake, GS460 owners will be able to spec their vehicles out with front seats with ventilation.

Overall, it’s a package which is surely not to disappoint the casual Lexus buyer, or am I wrong?

Well, actually, Lexus enthusiasts worldwide have not been afraid to reveal their disappointment and annoyance with this model update. While no one can deny that the GS is a great car and most definitely a worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series, it feels as if the car is starting to run its course.

For starters, most would have naturally assumed that the GS460 would have been directly carrying over the LS460’s massively powerful 380bhp V8, but such is obviously not the case; perhaps they felt it was necessary to keep the LS the absolute flagship of the line-up? So then, it would appear that Lexus has decided to essentially de-tune the LS460 engine, or have they? According to Lexus’s press release, this particular engine wears the code of “1UR-FSE”; the problem with this is that most Lexus enthusiasts believe it to be a typo throughout the original document as LS460’s shipped to the Middle Eastern market are sporting the identical power figures to this GS460, but are wearing the engine code “1UR-FE”. The notable difference between the two would be the “FSE” labelling and without the “S”, thus indicating a lack of direct fuel injection.

Whether this is at typo, or an actual LS460 engine with direct fuel injection merely detuned to 342hp, is unclear at the moment. My personal guess is that it is indeed a typo and this engine is the one lacking direct fuel injection; or in other words, a “1UR-FE”.

In any event, while 342hp is certainly more than enough to satisfy the power needs of most any luxury cruiser, it still means that the GS460 is 40 some horsepower behind that of the recently updated Mercedes-Benz E-Class which is now getting 388bhp from it’s revised 8-cylinder; this also means the GS460 is slightly behind the 2007 BMW 550i which boasts a hardy 367bhp.

Meanwhile, I believe there is an even greater threat to the GS460 and it’s internally.

In all honestly, I am wondering why Lexus is deciding to keep the gap between its three GS variants so awfully close. Such is especially evident when one looks at the difference between other Lexus models such as the IS and LS. The LS for instance, varies in price from $61,000 USD to a massive $100,000 USD, with horsepower varying from 380 from an all-petrol motor to 430 with a hybrid motor. With the IS, Lexus goes an even greater pricing distance between it’s models in North America varying prices from $30,000 USD to $50,000 USD and horsepower differences from 215 with the IS250, 306 with the IS350 and soon to be 400+ with the addition of the IS performance model, the IS-F.

Their GS on the other hand, is subject to a much smaller distance in variation with its models. Let’s face it, the GS350 with a full 303 horsepower isn’t exactly lacking, while the hybrid GS450h is offering equal power and performance to that of the GS460 for a price tag, which as current comparison between the models shows, will be more or less on an par with it’s V8 equivalent . Not to mention – if you planning on using you’re GS in the city, the added benefit of better fuel economy. Yes, I realize that with the 450h you’ll miss the throaty sound of a classic 8-Cylinder engine and not to mention a hefty addition of kerbweight, but frankly, that would not be enough to stop this enthusiast from purchasing the 450h over the 460. Make no mistake though, I have no doubts the GS460 will be a top-notch vehicle, fully deserving of the Lexus name plate and for those enthusiasts who crave V8 power in a Japanese car, you won’t be able to do much better.

And with that bombshell of a conclusion –an enthusiast choosing a hybrid 6 over a petrol 8 – I leave you this: by keeping a close distance between the GS460 and GS450h, is Lexus purposely trying to promote its hybrid model?

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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8 Comments

  1. I know I’ll get jumped on for this, but I think the the new GS is an attractive car, especially in that front 3/4 view. It’s not stunning, but it holds it’s own.

  2. Here’s a better question to pose, which is when will Lexus give up the front wheel drive on the GS? As the engines get more powerful, you have to assume they’re going to switch to rear wheel drive. No enthusiast is gonna take take the car seriously until that happens.

  3. Of course, I meant the ES, not the GS. I meant to ask when Lexus is going to give up front wheel drive completely.

  4. Yeah, FWD is no way for a luxury car maker or a sports car maker to get any kind of cred. Not gonna happen.

  5. You’ve mentioned “diehard Lexus enthusiasts” in your article… is there such a person?

    Lexus seems to be the car company for the anti-enthusiast…

  6. Execellent article, but really, do Lexus owners give much thought to any of this stuff? It seems they’re just interested in driving around a car that everyone knows is expensive rather than actual performance numbers.

  7. 1. I am a diehard Lexus enthusiast, so they do exist.
    2. Lexus has better acceleration than rival “car enthusiast” companies such as BMW, Audi, etc…
    Frankly, it has better everything depending on your viewpoint. For instance: manual shifting isn’t for “enthusiasts”, it’s for Quakers. automatic shifting is technologically superior, and humans cannot beat it, so why have it? Do “enthusiasts” require manual steering too? If you ask me, the avg “enthusiast” should have a throw-back car if they want to get the fun feeling from manual shifting and non-luxurious suspension. The modern “enthusiast” wants comfort, speed, and top-notch technology to keep them on the road since humans can’t react as quick as computers. So if you think mankind should keep on innovating and using our vast computer technology to improve cars, then you want a Lexus. If you want the experience that a race car driver might have experienced at Le Mans in the 1960s, then you should either buy an antique or used car, or else pick out one of the “ethusiast” car makers cars, cuz they do things like revert back in technology– such as with manual shifting, which again, is inferior to automatic in 2008.
    4. if what the author says is true, the GS will eventually be all-hybrid, since I can’t see any reason to sell a combustion-only model unless it’s cheaper.

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