It’s not the biggest or most expensive Lexus you can buy – that’s the LS – but it is the GS that has set the luxury, style and comfort benchmark for Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Jaguar
Unlike its Germanic and British rivals, the GS now offers a hybrid version. It’s a propulsive format that Toyota, Lexus’s parent, knows all about and has been steadily rolling out across its range, from the trend-setting Prius and lowly Yaris upwards.
Now in its fourth generation, the GS is available here in two full hybrid versions – the GS 300h and the high performance GS 450h flagship. The new body shape is more purposeful, with a gaping snout and sleek lines, while inside is a driver-focused cockpit.
Several innovative technologies made their first appearance. They include an energy-saving air conditioning system with ‘nanoe’ technology; a second generation of Lexus’s remote touch interface, linked to one of the world’s largest in-car multimedia display screens; and a choice of audio systems engineered for excellent power and sound clarity.
The beautifully crafted interior provides more space and comfort for everyone on board. Upfront there is more legroom and up to 30mm extra headroom, while in the rear there is 20mm more knee room and a 25mm increase in headroom. The smart packaging of the hybrid battery means there is more than 55 per cent extra storage room in the boot against the outgoing model.
Both GS models are available in F Sport trim, with exclusive exterior and interior design elements and specially tuned suspension. Additionally, the GS 450h F Sport benefits from dynamic rear steering and variable gear ratio steering for even greater dynamic handling.
The GS 450h was the world’s first front-engine/rear-wheel drive premium performance saloon to be equipped with a petrol engine/electric motor full hybrid system.
Every element in the second generation Lexus hybrid drive system has been improved, bringing about significant reductions in emissions, while at the same time giving performance comparable to that of V8-powered rivals.
The GS 450h can sprint to 62mph in 5.9 seconds. Top speed is 155mph (250km/h). At the same time, fuel consumption has been brought down by more than 20 per cent to 46.3mpg, with CO2 emissions falling to 141g/km.
The GS 300h, also rear-wheel drive, combines a 141bhp (105 kW) electric motor with a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC Atkinson cycle petrol engine.
CO2 emissions start at just 109g/km for the GS 300h SE, with combined cycle fuel economy of 60.1mpg. These figures contribute to a highly competitive cost of ownership.
Prices on the road range from £31,495 to £51,495, coming in below this lovely and highly sophisticated rivals.