Something Wicked This Way Dies: Lexus GS Lined Up for Execution, Gasps Out a Final Special Edition

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

That a print advertisement can still remain (near) top of mind two decades later speaks to the power of marketing, and maybe a little to the vehicle behind that famous ad: the Lexus GS.

After announcing a limited run of 2020 Lexus GS 350 F Sport Black Line Special Edition — a vehicle the brand calls the “best ever” GS, the automaker admitted that this is it for the model. The GS, which added a modicum of muscle to Lexus’ image back in the 90s, won’t live beyond the summer.

It was a long time coming, as no one could find any hint of a next-generation GS in Toyota’s product pipeline. Last year the premium brand axed the slow-selling base GS 300 model for 2020, further raising suspicion of a looming discontinuation.

The GS is a midsize, rear-drive car, and if you hadn’t noticed, those aren’t exactly selling like gangbusters these days.

“We are constantly evaluating model mixes throughout our lineup,” a Lexus spokesperson told Motor Authority on Friday. “In the declining sedan segment, GS family has represented a small amount of sales in the last few years.”

The GS was the worst-performing model in Lexus’ lineup last year, with full-year sales falling 48.8 percent compared to 2018. Lexus claims the model accounted for just 4 percent of its passenger car sales, or 0.8 percent of sales in the midsize luxury segment.

Indeed, the 3,378 units Lexus unloaded last year was a dismal tally compared to years past. In 2012 and 2014, the GS topped the 20,000 mark; in the late ’90s, after the release of the second-generation model (MY1998) that prompted the famous ad campaign, Lexus reliably sold more than 30,000 GS sedans per year, with that barrier last topped in 2005.

While the model never set sales charts alight, it did offer enough sport and luxury to temp discerning buyers like Corey.

So, what of the GS’ swan song? Just 200 of the limited edition models will roll off the line, boasting (funereal?) gloss black F Sport wheels, decklid spoiler, and side mirror caps and available in rear- or all-wheel-drive guise. Two colors, Ultra White and Caviar can be had. Inside, red accenting, Alcantara trim, and carbon fiber ornamentation tells all passengers they’re driving in something special, even if the 3.5-liter V6 under hood is stock GS 350.

In the trunk, you’ll find a two-piece luggage set (carry-on and travel case) designed for Lexus by Zero Halliburton, because why not. Lexus hasn’t yet listed pricing, but expect a decent markup from your basic GS 350 F Sport figures.

[Images: Lexus]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Werewolf Werewolf on Apr 27, 2020

    I own a 4th gen GS350 and owned a 2nd gen GS400. The attraction of the GS is that it was the sporty sedan option in the Lexus family. The appeal is not the fastest car in the class but the one that lasts the longest with enough grunt to have fun every now and then. RWD is also a big selling point for me I buy used and own for a long time time which makes the German options painful as electronics, sensors failure and the upkeep costs grow. When I see 5-series and E-classes at the pump, it's pity not envy I feel - having owned both those cars before and spending too much quality time with my mechanic and trying to fix it myself plus the depreciation hits. I don't get tax benefits from leasing nor do I enjoy constant monthly payments. To me a depreciated Lexus is a sweet spot as 60k sedans have most of the bells/whistles and safety features. This class of vehicle is increasingly electronic with better engines and less road feel. I don't believe a car should be designed and manufactured to be semi-disposable. If I were to buy German, it would be a Panamera (older due to price points) rather than a BMW or a Merc due to the engineering philosophy.

  • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Apr 27, 2020

    Sad to lose choice for midsize rwd. As noted, Toyota gave up with this car a long time ago. I think when they dropped the v8. Even if the v8s are a small percentage of sales, back when this car still had a chance a V8 option was required to be taken seriously. This GS also had the misfortune of competing with the w212 E class, which also focused on comfort and was one of the best cars Mercedes had built in a long time.

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    • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Apr 29, 2020

      @dal20402 Only if you went all the way up to the GS-F. It needed a V8 without everything else that comes with the F. I'm also disappointed that Mercedes makes you get an amg to get a V8 on the w213, but that stands out less in the world of the 2.0T. Toyota was ahead of the times in pulling the v8 from the volume trims. I think too soon.

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