It’s ironic that the Lexus GS250 could be the best car for boosting fertility, but it’s mostly going to be purchased by those who have already procreated.
It’s a true story that a friend of a friend and his wife were trying to conceive and having some trouble. The doctor told him that he needed to keep his nether region as cool as possible to assist in the production of the little wrigglers required to seal the deal, and so it was that he traveled around in his car with the seat fans on full all the time.
Yes, the Lexus GS250 will blow cooling, life-giving air through the seat. One can only speculate that, given the Lexus comes from Japan where the population is in perilous decline (it will decrease from its current 126 million to less than 50 million within a hundred years unless young women stop buying and dressing up those annoying little dogs and start having babies), perhaps there’s some kind of government incentive. After all, the Toyota Land Cruiser we reviewed a couple of months ago also came with the same system.
Lexus has made the GS250 an exceptionally comfortable car to drive in and has given it a stereo of epic quality. Several times I found myself sitting in it after I’d turned the car off, just listening to the music. While the operation of the stereo is a little fiddly with the joystick on the centre console, the audible results are stellar. They are powerful and clear.
Twelve speakers wash you with sound via a 299W amp. Music input devices include all kinds of CD and media files, iPod and other MP3 players, radio data service, satellite radio (so you can listen to the BBC World Service) and just plain old terrestrial AM/FM. The system has voice recognition and you can connect your Bluetooth-enabled phone, as well as streaming music via Bluetooth.
The second audible aspect of the Lexus which I loved was the engine tone. If you are cruising along, you barely hear the engine at all – it’s exceptionally quiet – but bury the accelerator and the Sound Generator system (basically a couple of mufflers and intake manifold modification) takes you from a quite purposeful bassy tone at low revs through to a tone that sounds like the best of angry V6 engines with a hint of V8 Supercar thrown in.
The response of the engine is controlled by one of three modes: eco, normal and sport. Eco mode reduces the power, throttle response and air conditioning. In sport mode, the throttle response is enhanced and more power is available from the 2.5-litre V6 – up to 154kW and 253Nm. This gives a 0-100kph sprint of 8.8 seconds which is adequate for most overtaking needs.
The gearbox is a six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. I expected it to be seven-speed, but the six-speed doesn’t seem to have any compromises. A snow mode is available.
Combined fuel consumption is quoted at 9.3l/100km. We managed 9.1 on a journey from Coromandel town to Auckland that included all the twisty awesomeness of the Thames Coast Road, plus an annoying late-night motorway closure at Papakura that delayed us and forced us through the back streets of Takanini after crawling along for 3km.
Being the baby of the range there are a couple of concessions. The cruise control is a budget one out of a Toyota. You can’t set a specific speed and it appears to wander up to 5kph from the set speed.
The satellite navigation, which displays on the 8-inch LCD, is easy enough to use once you’ve mastered the joystick and has a useful feature where you can retrace your journey. The maps were out-of-date, though. It didn’t know about the new Kopu bridge coming into Thames, so make sure you request an update if you’re purchasing one.
Given the GS250’s friendliness for creating children, they’ll be fine in the back until they are teens, at which time the lack of legroom will create problems. For short journeys there is enough, but you would not want to transport a sulky 15-year-old for any more than an hour or so. This does, however, allow for a slightly large boot than you might expect.
With all the noise, you also need poise. The Lexus stays flat through the corners, washing out into predictable understeer if you push it too hard. A cadre of electronics prevents you from kicking the back end out or getting into any kind of skid. There’s also a blind spot monitoring system to warn you if a vehicle is overtaking you on the left or right. If all these electronics can’t save you, nine airbags are the next line of defence.
While Lexus always does well in consumer surveys for satisfaction and reliability it’s comforting to know that the GS250 comes with a four-year unlimited kilometer warranty and a six-year corrosion warranty, fully transferable to new owners.
I really enjoyed the GS250. OK, it has a couple of minor issues, but the overall driving experience with its exhaust note, stereo quality and level of comfort are more than enough to negate them. If only I had an interest in having children!
- Beautiful engine tone on acceleration
- High comfort level
- Excellent stereo
- Not much rear passenger leg room
- Joystick operation of media centre and nav takes up a lot of space and isn’t that nice to use.
- Budget cruise control
Words and photos: Darren Cottingham