Lexus 450H: An electrifying experience
“All-new” is currently the most over-used phrase in motor industry PR speak, especially since most manufacturers are now following an evolutionary rather than revolutionary path.
Now in its fourth generation, the Lexus GS, for example, still bears a strong familial resemblance to the original car, though surfaces are now creased rather than rounded. That said the changes from the last version are more than just cosmetic.
I was fortunate enough to spend an entertaining week with the high-performance, full-hybrid 450h flagship model – and it’s every bit as desirable as its Mercedes, Audi and BMW rivals.
It looks great, inside and out, with a driver-focused cockpit that’s been brilliantly thought out, providing advanced human/machine interface technologies that help keep the driver alert and passengers comfortable.
Beautifully crafted, the cabin provides generously improved leg, head and shoulder room for everyone. The boot is more capacious too, despite the extra space demands of the hybrid petrol/electrIc drive system.
Exemplary is the super-clear sat-nav, with a 12.3-inch monitor – the largest in the market – and it provides a broader range of information than ever.
Both the GS 450h and the base level GS 250 are available in S Sport trim, with exclusive exterior and interior design elements and a specially tuned suspension.
Make no mistake, this is very much a luxury sedan but it’s a sporting car too, the 450h version whisking itself to 62 mph in just 5.9 seconds, with an electronically controlled 155 mph top speed, yet, thanks to the super-efficient hybrid drive chain fuel consumption is now a frugal 64.3 mpg – a 20 per cent improvement over the old car – and emissions are greatly reduced.
Power comes from a 4.5 litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor that switches in and out seamlessly.
Road manners are impeccable, with minimal body roll, stick to the road handling, a smooth ride and fingertip steering.
More powerful brakes and the use of advanced technologies such as adaptive variable suspension and the new Lexus dynamic handling system, also have a positive impact on the car’s dynamic abilities.
My GS 450h Premier test car was equipped with an advanced pre-crash safety system that includes a driver monitor camera, and its complementary adaptive cruise control, which can now function right down to zero-mph.
With Lexus, luxury comes as standard – leather upholstery, bi-xenon headlights; dual-zone climate control, 10-way adjustable electric seats up front, height and tilt, electric adjustment of the steering wheel and a 12-speaker audio system all featuring on the spec sheet..
Many items that are options among the competition come as standard with Lexus. The GS offers 10 variants. Write out a cheque for £45,605 and the range-topping model i tested could be yours – and that’s for a car that can compete majestically against rivals costing half as much again.