- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

DETROIT I have always appreciated the Lexus GS 300 for its smooth character and firm handling. Now Lexus has enhanced this model even further with a Euro-tuned sport suspension and wider 225/60R 16 tires.
The suspension of the standard Lexus GS 300 was designed for performance with double wishbones, large-diameter four-wheel disc brakes and 16-inch alloy wheels. Anti-lock with brake assist and vehicle skid control will help keep the car under control in unexpected conditions.
For the upgrade of the suspension for the SportDesign option, the Lexus engineers have redesigned the A-arms, incorporated new bushings and changed the spring rates for improved handling.
I took the Lexus GS 300 SportDesign for a few hundred miles on the freeway and also drove it in downtown Detroit. Even though the Detroit roads are not really fit to accommodate a sporty car, the sport suspension of this Lexus is able to iron away most of the uncomfortable bumps and holes in the pavement.
The driving is uncomplicated, its steering precise and willing and the stiffer suspension is firm enough to handle a sporty foot on the throttle, while the car stays put in fast corners. With 220 horsepower, the inline-six VVT-I engine is powerful enough to accelerate to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds and leave most of my fellow motorists behind.
Its five-speed automatic transmission shifts go unnoticed, but if you want, you can manually shift as well with E-shift. Then you use either the shifter or the buttons on the steering wheel. I did that for a while, and it's fun. But the comfort of the swift automatic shifting is as tempting.
It is always a nice feeling to be really at ease in a car, and that certainly applies to this Lexus. The European touch adds just enough sportiness, without feeling at a loss on the not-as-smooth American roads.
The limited edition Lexus SportDesign interior incorporates perforated leather seats with contrasting piping, black-stained burled walnut trim on doors, shift knob and center console and a brushed-aluminum console panel with SportDesign badge.
The exterior of this GS 300 is recognizable for its SportDesign badging on the front fenders and, as mentioned, the new polished wheels. The new color "graphite gray pearl" is an exclusive to the SportDesign, which is also available in black and silver.
Lexus expects to produce 3,300 units of the special edition, which is offered in two versions by combining SportDesign with the Mark Levinson Package or with the existing Premium Package option. The latter package sells for $4,050, or just $310 more than the price for just the Premium Package.


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