When the second-generation Lexus GS 400 arrived in North America in late 1997, the automaker paired the introduction with a can’t-miss-it ad campaign. “Something wicked this way comes,” the glossy advertisements warned of the looming V8 model.
Well, that ominous late-90s tagline would soon be a lie, as rumor states that the 2018 model year could be the last for Lexus’ sporty midsize luxury sedan. There just might not be room in the lineup for this once-boastworthy rear-driver.
According to the Lexus Enthusiast blog (via Jalopnik), Toyota has suspended development of a next-generation GS, which would make next year the GS’ last. The automaker hasn’t verified the supposed scoop, but the original source cites the model’s positioning within the brand’s lineup as the reason for its eventual cancellation.
Basically, the source claims the GS is being muscled out of a shrinking passenger car lineup by existing Lexus models and its own diminishing image. On the surface, there’s plenty of truth to this.
For the 2018 model year, Lexus’s restyled flagship LS adopts a V6-only powertrain and improved driving dynamics. Between that model, the smaller IS and the less-sporty midsize ES, the GS doesn’t cover much territory. Compounding the problem is last year’s steep sales drop.
Last year, Lexus moved 14,878 GS sedans in the U.S., a decrease of 36 percent compared to the previous year.
“The real factor is just the inability of virtually anybody to break into this category,” said TTAC sales guru Tim Cain. “Last year, in a rough year for the E-Class, total E-Class/CLS sales outsold GS 3.4-to-1. BMW 5 Series more than doubled GS, and that was as 5 Series sales tumbled as they approached replacement.”
When contacted, Lexus’ senior communications manager Nancy Hubbell wouldn’t confirm or deny that this GS generation would be the last. Her words did, however, add fuel to the rumor fire.
“We haven’t announced anything about the GS. There will be a 2018 model and we’ll take it from there,” Hubbell told TTAC. It’s the last part of the second sentence that may raise a few eyebrows.
While we’re still waiting for confirmation, Lexus die-hards have plenty of reason to fear that the GS may depart this earth at the ripe age of 25.
[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]