No striptease here

When an entry-level model is set at an attractive price, that car acts as a lure to attract buyers. This is a much-used marketing tactic. Usually the bait-car is a stripper model, pared back to meet the price point, and once punters enter the showroom, itup to the salesman to up-sell them into a more expensive model to which they likely aspire.

With a price tag just over the $100k mark, the GS250 is such an entry-level car, the start point for the new mid-sized luxury sedan from Lexus. But while itthe price leader, itno stripper model bereft of treats, as it has a specification list as long as that of the more powerful and dearer GS350.

All that it lacks is the latterextra 956cc and further grunt; however, at a $14,000 premium, the additional 125Nm of the 350 model are some of the most expensive in the automotive world. So the GS250 should appeal to the value-conscious buyer, if theresuch a thing in the luxury segment.

While the diminutive V6, the same as the IS250 uses, never feels truly wanting, you do have to pump the go-pedal more vigorously as the power and torque dwell in the top end of the rev spectrum. You can now hear that smooth V6 beavering away, as the GS gets a resonator in the air intake to amplify the sound, while an exhaust valve, which was previously used to reduce noise, has been removed. The engine begins to sing, both literally and figuratively, around the 4000rpm mark.

By moving up to an eight-speed transmission, Lexus could have made more of the meagre torque curve and reduced the consumption further, but the six-speed auto is retained. Nonetheless, the GS250 is an adequate performer, dispensing with the 80-120km /h overtaking manoeuvre in 6.1 seconds.

Lexus loyalists should warm to it easily, as theyfind all the expected traits of the brand, chiefly a quiet, superbly built cabin, which exudes comfort and uses soft-touch materials. While the GS250 is not as loaded as the GS450h Luxury we had on test last month, youwant for naught; the package meets expectations for a $100k car, and it betters the competition spec for spec.

GS350To tempt those with other luxo brand allegiances, the GS has sharper styling and more appealing dynamics this time round. Though it lacks adaptive dampers, the ride is still absorbent over city roads, and quiet, too, yet is also firm enough to keep the car in check through a few bends. Theremore grip than grunt available, so you can step on the throttle early coming out of a corner without worrying the traction control. The six-speed auto works feverishly between the gears, though set to Sport mode, it keeps the motor spinning away. The front end of the GS is responsive to the steering, which is neither completely mute nor a great talker. You can rely on the front end remaining true, as the car is always nicely controlled.

The GS certainly has come up in our estimation. If you donhave the need for speed, the entry-level 250 will suffice, and it comfortably undercuts the competition.