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by Tim Beissmann

The Lexus GS 350 has been unveiled ahead of its launch in Australia around the middle of next year.

Lexus Australia CEO, Tony Cramb, told CarAdvice the GS 350 would arrive in Australia in the first half of next year, pointing to a local showroom debut in around May/June 2012.

Mr Cramb confirmed an all-new variant – the Lexus GS 350 F Sport – would be unveiled at SEMA in Los Angeles in November, and said this variant was “likely” to launch alongside the standard GS 350 in Australia.

He also confirmed the all-new GS hybrid, set to replace the outgoing GS 450h, would be revealed at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show on September 13. This model will also hit local showrooms in 2012, although it will be sometime after the GS 350 in the second half of the year.

Mr Cramb said the new range would not include a V8 model, however. He said Lexus’s designers and engineers were confident the standard GS 350 was powerful enough to make a V8 redundant, and also offered drastic advantages in fuel consumption and emissions.

Judging by the specs, they’re probably right. The Lexus GS 350 will be powered by the 3.5-litre all-alloy V6 from the IS 350. In the GS 350, it produces 233kW of power and 376Nm of torque, which Lexus estimates will lead to a 0-100km/h sprint of just 5.7 seconds.

The outgoing GS 300 – with its 183kW/310Nm 3.0-litre V6 and 7.2-second acceleration time – pales in comparison. The new GS 350 also promises to be quicker that the GS 460 V8, which sprints to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds.

At 4849mm long, 1839mm wide, 1455mm high and with a wheelbase of 2852mm, the all-new Lexus GS is 1mm shorter, 19mm wider, 25mm taller and has a 2mm wider wheelbase than the previous model. The biggest dimensional change is to the track, which is 40mm wider at the front and almost 50mm wider at the rear, promising a more poised stance and enhanced cornering ability.

Like in the IS 350, the engine is teamed to a six-speed sequential automatic transmission with paddle shifters and features from the IS F, including faster shifts and downshift throttle blips.

It also incorporates four driving modes, selected via the new Lexus Drive Mode toggle. Along with Normal mode, drivers can select from ECO, SPORT S, and SPORT S+, which vary everything from the seat heater settings to the suspension and stability control calibration.

The interior offers a more driver-focused layout and more space and comfort for passengers. Driver visibility is improved, while rear-seat passengers now enjoy added head-, leg- and knee-room  and more foot space than in the outgoing model.

Boot space has also increased almost 25 per cent, up from 430 litres to approximately 535 litres.

The cabin integrates a number of innovative new features.

The S-Flow climate control system uses the occupant detection system to direct airflow only at the occupied seats.

Lexus’ next generation of Remote Touch also debuts in the GS 350, bringing together controls for all of the vehicle’s major interior functions.

The highlight is the world-first 12.3-inch (312mm) split-screen high-resolution multimedia display. The screen is large enough for multiple functions to be viewed at once.

The DVD- and Bluetooth-compatible audio system features 5.1 Surround Sound, while an 835-watt, 17-speaker Mark Levinson system will be available as an option.

Safety is another strong suit, with the GS 350 scoring 10 airbags (dual front, side, rear side, curtain and front knee).

The pre-collision system in the new GS scans the road ahead, and also scans the driver’s eyes to see if they are looking forward. If their eyes are elsewhere, the system will deliver a warning of impending collision earlier than it normally would. If the driver does not brake within two seconds of an impending collision, the brakes are applied to lessen the impact.

Expect the full specifications and pricing details to be revealed closer to the vehicle’s Australian launch around the middle of next year.