Recently launched in Hong Kong, Lexus' prestige cruiser has been given a sharp update for 2008. Sitting on an all-new chassis, the GS300's body has been lengthened by a smidgin, yet it retains its characteristic curvaceous elegance. Lexus' arrowhead-inspired redesign lends more of a modern edge to the sedan, which boasts funkier headlights, door mirrors with integrated indicators, a shark-like nose and front grille and spanking seven-spoke alloys. Exterior design cues have been carried through to the interior, which has always been a swish affair, but this time there's more use of tactile materials. New design elements include double-stitched leather seats, a restyled dashboard with natural wood grain panelling, speed-sensitive power doors and windows and internally fan-cooled front seats that eliminate the humid feeling associated with leather (although only in the Deluxe model). As well as ventilated front seats, the Deluxe variant has a few premium features over and above what comes on the standard model, including a sunroof, a rear spoiler, a wooden steering wheel and gearstick knob, a power-operated rear window sunshade and side airbags for the rear seats. Lexus has gone all out to make sure the kit lives up to the expectations raised by the GS300's spacious five-seater cabin and boot space, with interior LED mood lighting, dual-zone climate control, a 10-speaker, six-CD entertainment system, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a Bluetooth adaptor, and keyless entry as standard issue even on the entry-level model. On the road, the GS300 is pitched towards refinement and comfort rather than sheer performance - something which should please serial Lexus buyers. More firmly sprung than the marque's RX range, the GS gives a ride that's cosseted without being overly soft, although it stops short of the harder edge of many European cars in its class. It's an undemanding car that's a breeze to drive and to get comfortable in. At slow speeds, however, there's an unnerving sense of detachment from the road (just like in Lexus' RX SUV), which comes from power-assisted steering that gives you the sensation of piloting rather than driving. Commuting around Central, it makes quite a difference to the driving experience, but there's more to the GS. When you pick up the pace, you might expect the GS300 to float along much in the same fashion. Yet the responsiveness of the engine, the automatic gear change and the steering become more honed the faster you travel, and there's a seamlessly progressive gathering of speed and control. Before you know it, you're overtaking effortlessly on the highway and you realise why the GS300 is such an expensive ride. The VDIM (vehicle dynamics integrated management) system is also partly responsible for the 300's relaxed feel. VDIM co-ordinates the ABS, brake-force distribution and traction and stability control to provide optimal driving performance with the highest level of active safety, making it hard to get into trouble driving too fast in adverse conditions or by accidentally burning rubber. With all its hi-tech features, it's little wonder that the GS300 aced the Euro NCAP safety ratings, achieving a top five-star rating as one of the safest cars in its class. With an option of up to 12 airbags, the top Deluxe models have a pre-crash safety system that can detect an imminent collision, preparing the seat belts for restraint and priming the emergency braking backup. The adaptive variable suspension system on the Deluxe model provides excellent control and stability, and the redesigned engine cowling minimises wind resistance for better aerodynamics. The vehicle stability control system keeps a rein on things if the car begins to skid, and the traction control system reduces engine power and regulates braking pressure to prevent wheel-spin when accelerating. Rock solid, well-equipped and super-safe, there's little on which to fault the GS300 other than its spongy steering at low speeds. But if you're used to the efficiency of Lexus' hybrid RX400h, the petrol-engine GS300's emissions may seem a little on the high side (although there's a hybrid variant due out later this year). And even though it's thoroughly soundproofed, the GS300 doesn't have the library-like hush of the marque's hybrid cars. The GS300 has sharper looks than its predecessor, but still lacks sufficient character to make it a real head-turner. The car may be better suited to US rather than European drivers, although it would make a very capable autobahn cruiser. In Hong Kong's crowded streets, however, it is the GS300's luxury appointments that make it a pleasure to drive.