17 September 2021

More than an old car #178: Lexus GS300

Real-life stuff has taken the forefront so this page has regrettably being put on the back burner. However, there are just so many cars that I would like to share with you all, so I will still continue to do my best in educating about the old cars here! Having delved into my archives for a fair bit, I was able to re-discover this 1998 Lexus S160 GS300! (which I did not recall taking pictures...)

The GS300 (also known as the Toyota Aristo in Japan) was first conceived in 1988 by Italdesign Giugario, where they aimed to produce a deluxe saloon that favoured a more simplified, European style appearance instead of the many bells and whistles that characterised Japanese cars of that era. The GS name stands for 'Grand Sedan': although it sounded relatively plain, it was still able to convey a sense of luxury. Its name in the Japan market was derived from Aristotle, which had the connotation of 'being the best'. Its design merged elements of the flagship LS and SC coupe to a more rounded, aerodynamic wedge, featuring a higher rear bootlid and wider proportions than rival vehicles. As such, it had a relatively low drag coefficient of 0.31. The car was assembled almost virtually by robots, who performed 4,200 welds while humans only did 8 of them. 

In 1993, development began for the 2nd generation in earnest under chief engineer Yasushi Nakagawa, and a concept was subsequently unveiled at the 1995 Detroit Motor Show. The car was shorter than before, but made considerably larger inside due to a newer wheelbase. Luggage capacity was also increased from 404 to 515 litres and it was even more aerodynamic than its predecessor with a drag coefficient of 0.29. The unique 4-headlight treatment was a head turner, and one could see the resemblance to the Mercedes W210 which appeared shortly before. 

Lexus promoted the arrival of the GS300 with the tagline 'Something Wicked This Way Comes', with good reason: it was fitted with the same engines behind the fan favourite Supra A80, and the US-market cars also received a larger 4-litre engine known as the GS400. This prompted Lexus to claim that it was the world's fastest production sedan in 1997, as it was theoretically able to outrun the BMW E39 M5. In 2000, it received a facelift with a slightly modified grille and subtly tinted headlights, while the interior received more wood trim. Various special editions were also offered throughout its production run, though mostly limited to the Aristo model.

This GS300 was powered by a 2997 cc 2JZ-GE i6 engine, allowing it to reach an electronically-controlled top speed of 230 km/h with an acceleration of 8.2 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4805 mm long and weighed 2120 kg, with a fuel consumption of 13.3 litres / 100 km.

Production of the S160 series ended in 2005, where it was replaced by the S190 series. Naturally, they are a rare sight nowadays with its relatively pricey road tax, with an estimated 7 left on the roads. GS300s were sold here in 1998 by Borneo Motors and one unit was noted to change hands recently. Despite its rather bland exterior (much like modern car designs), this unassuming executive sedan packs a punch: what better way to arrive on time for your meeting than to be delivered via raw power? 

The GS300 would be what people might call a 'sleeper', although this term has been bandied around for so many times that it has lost the original significance. However, let this not distract you from the fact of its classic and last-survivors status: hopefully this has been useful for you to identify them in the future!

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