Lexus has given its new BMW 5 Series-bashing GS saloon a massive 12.3-inch LCD display. Lexus says it's the biggest screen ever fitted to this class of car.
TechRadar got a hands on with the new GS and its mahoosive LCD panel at the recent European launch of its latest luxury saloon. Located front and central in the GS's opulent dash, it's certainly a high quality display with beautiful, saturated colours, great contrast and excellent viewing angles.
As for the quality of the interface displayed on the screen, it's more of a mixed bag. The graphics look sharp but feel dated, which is no surprise as they're essentially carried over from previous Lexus infotainment systems in models like the LS, CT and RX. No question, the likes of Audi MMI and BMW iDrive present a more contemporary face.
That said, the graphics do have the advantage of clarity. The navigation screens are particulary easy on the eye. OK, there's no option for fancy 3D or bird's eye mapping. In practice, however, what you want is clear, legible mapping.
That's exactly what the GS gets. What's more, thanks to that huge 12.3-inch LCD, you can run maps in split screen mode with plenty of space spare to show currently playing music or trip computer data.
Another intriguing and not entirely successful carry over from other Lexus models is the puck unique puck-style controller. Flat and square, it's a little like an overgrown input stick from a games console controller.
It's equipped with haptic feedback designed to help you feel your way around the screen and select buttons and options with greater accuracy. It works up to a point. But it also seems to have encouraged Lexus into a slightly slapdash approach to interface design.
Where wheel-input systems like MMI are designed around scrolling through neatly ordered menus, the freedom of the Lexus controller has led to buttons splattered around the screen.
The functionality of the European GS's infotainment kit feels a little behind the curve, too. You do get a few connected features including online searching. But for now, Lexus' Enform app suite isn't available in Europe.
That's a shame because Enform, which is a slightly more grow up version of the Entune platform available from sister company Toyota, drags the GS up to date with features like bing search, Facebook places, Pandora music streaming and more.
If you're wondering how the new GS drives, here in the UK you get a choice of 2.5l V6 and 3.5l V6 hybrid models. The latter packs well over 300hp and is comfortably the quicker of the two. It's also much better on emissions thanks to the hybrid gubbins.
46.3mpg on the combined cycle and 141g/km is pretty spectacular for such a large, powerful petrol car – especially one capable of sub six seconds to 60mph and a limited top speed of 155mph. The only problem is that the hybrid model comes with a CVT transmission that does its best to make what is actually quite a sweet V6 motor sound dull and droney.
So, it's actually the smaller engined GS 250 and it's convetional automatic that's often the more satisfying, if leisurely, drive. That said, both models are surpremely comfortable and refined, as is the Lexus way.
The new GS is available to order today with prices from £32,995 for the GS 250 and £44,995 for the GS 450h.
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