Garry Fabian reviews the Lexus GS 450h.
When hybrid cars first came on the scene about a decade ago, they were regarded as an experimental novelty, that while technically interesting, were not seen as an everyday motoring reality.
But as they have become established, expanding from base models across the range into luxury categories, they are the reality of motoring today.
One very good expression of this reality is the Lexus GS 450h, the hybrid companion to Lexus’ new GS 350 sport sedan.
As with the previous generation the new hybrid blends V-6 and electric power to the rear wheels for improvements to the GS’ EPA-rated fuel economy numbers, with some mild changes applied to its exterior and cabin to distinguish it from petrol-powered models
The most important specification for this year’s GS 450h is its projected better fuel economy which means the hybrid will put a much wider distance between itself and its thirstier cousin and according to Lexus a 35% improvement on the previous GS 450h.
While fuel economy should improve, the new hybrid can also accelerate from 0-100km in about 5.6 seconds, and will reach a top speed close to 200km/h.
It does so by pairing the output from a 3.5-liter V-6 running lean on the Atkinson cycle, to a motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack.
The net output is achieved with a more compact motor and battery assembly, with direct injection in the petrol engine, and with better cooling on the hybrid power system.
The GS 450h can be driven on battery power alone for short distances, and can run on petrol power alone too.
On the dynamic side, Lexus has opted to make its semi-active suspension standard on the hybrid, along with electric power steering and a drive-mode selector that programs the electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT) to behave in eco, sport, sport-plus, and EV modes, as well as in normal mode.
The different driving styles adapt well enough to the GS 450h’s civilised behaviour.
At least there’s more distance now between the models, not just in driving feel but in looks.
The usual blue hybrid badges and blanked-off tailpipes are applied to the exterior; inside, the GS 450h wears unvarnished bamboo as its calling-card finish, and the hybrid’s information screens dominate the dash LCD readouts.
Otherwise, the GS 450h has all the usual luxury features you would expect.
There are two versions, the GS 450h Luxury and the GS 450H sports, both with an impressive line-up of standard features of a luxury sedan in its class.
Power windows and mirrors, keyless entry and starting, superb sound and climate control systems, Sat-Nav, rear vision camera, extensive seat adjustments a with three memory options for the driver, cruise control, a full safety package, are just the main features, with a range of other comfort and realistic accessories to make driving a very uplifting experience.
For luxury, economy and quality, the GS 450h provides a very good example of a top of the range model.
NUTS & BOLTS
Engine: 3.5 lt V6h producing 252 kW.
Economy: 8.7 lt/100km.
ANCAP Rating: 5 stars.
Green Rating: 4 and a half stars.
Price: GS450h Luxury $99,900; GS 450H Sport $ 111,900