Lexus GS450h Review

By: David Morley

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Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h
Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h
Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h
Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h Lexus GS450h

Lexus GS. Fourth-generation lexus gs finally discovers driver appeal.

Lexus GS450h Review
Lexus GS450h

 

Lexus GS450h 

The Lexus brand mightn't be the first one keen drivers think of, but thanks to the IS-F sports sedan and LFA supercar, the whole Lexus thing is enjoying a bit more respect on the street. And the launch of an all-new GS range certainly won't harm that phenomenon, because the new GS is better than ever - a lot better.

The good news is that the all-new chassis is a pretty sharp kind of implement. The less brilliant news is that there is no V8 version. That leaves the GS350 with its 233kW 3.5-litre V6 mill tied to a six-speed automatic and the hybrid-powered GS450h with a maximum of 252kW.

Now, while the hybrid's kilowatt count doesn't sound much up on the regular GS, what you need to remember is that when the V6 petrol and twin electric motors are all hammering away together, there's anything up to 620Nm on tap, so you better believe the hybrid shifts. In fact, it's at its strongest at low speeds, when flooring the throttle results in an almighty shove between the shoulder blades. You'll be visiting the bowser less often, too, because the hybrid has an official consumption figure of just 6.2L/100km, compared with 9.7 for the vastly less muscular GS350.

The only real driving glitch is the hybrid's CVT tranny, which can feel a little hyper-active when you dial the dynamic control up to 'Sport'. The CVT revs the V6 hard to get it into its maximum-thrust zone, which is fine, but it sounds like you're being overtaken by your own engine.

There's an F-Sport version of either car, which brings with it four-wheel-steering. The set-up uses an electric actuator on the rear axle (a bit like a second steering box) that can turn the rear wheels anything up to two degrees. At low speeds, the rears steer opposite to the fronts; higher-speed moves cause the rears to move in unison. Add a front end that is impressive for both its turn in and its grip and the Lexus GS is finally a proper driver's car (in a super-deluxo kind of way). Even the non-rear-steer version is good, but it doesn't quite have the flowing feel of the four-wheel-steer jigger.

Available across the range will be adaptive dampers that really do work - taking the edge off the worst of LA's concrete freeways that attempt to jolt the suspension through the towers on anything stiffly sprung.

The hybrid GS includes some nifty tricks for saving fuel like using the heated seats to warm the interior rather than waste petrol heating the engine's coolant to do the same thing. And if the seats can't warm the cabin fast enough, there's an electric heater inside the HVAC unit to fill the gap.

For the crystal-ball watchers, there is likely to eventually be a V8 GS, as well as a 2.5-litre V6 which Lexus needs to battle the base-model Germans. But don't expect the AWD version destined for markets that enjoy six months of snow and ice a year.

 

FAST FACTS

Lexus GS450h

 

ENGINE: 3456cc V6, DOHC, 24v, twin electric motors

POWER: 252kW @ 6000rpm

TORQUE: 620Nm @ 4600rpm

WEIGHT: 1910kg

GEARBOX: CVT automatic

0-100km/h: 5.9sec (claimed)

TOP SPEED: 250km/h (limited)

PRICE: $125,000 (estimated)

 

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