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Lexus GS 450h

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The new Lexus GS450h promises high performance and eco credentials; but how far does it charms really extend, we find out

What is it? The Lexus GS 450h is a family-sized saloon designed with the environmentally aware, tech savy car buyer in mind.

Who is it aimed at?  Designed to outshine all other hybrid vehicles, the GS 450h is all about combining fuel efficiency and performance in a bid to woo a different kind of Lexus customer.

Styling? Given an entirely new look inside and out the exterior styling is now edgier and more aggressive. With hints of the LFA supercar the flared wheel arches, lightening design and spindly shaped grille all combine to give it a more dynamic and modern look. It may not push the boundaries for car design but it is a huge improvement on the previous version.

Under the Bonnet? The GS 450h is a full hybrid car so this essentially means it has a petrol engine and an electric one and can switch between both. Despite the GS’s eco credentials the petrol engine and electric are capable of whisking it from 0 to 100kph in 5.9 seconds; which is good for any performance saloon but particularly impressive for a hybrid one.

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What’s it like inside? Behind the wheel it’s a feast of technology with brightly lit gauges and switches. The dashboard is dominated by a 12.3inch LCD screen the biggest ever seen in a production car. The driving position is excellent and it is supremely comfortable. Head room and overall space is good throughout. A common issue with hybrid cars is the lack of space in the boot due to the battery but in the GS overall luggage space has been increased by 60% to give it 465 litres so there is no compromise there.

On the Road? In keeping with Lexus’s push to appeal to a new type of customer, on the road the car handles far better than its predecessor. Despite its weight it feels nimble and soaks up bumps with ease and corners with confidence but the steering feels a little too numb for our tastes. Switch it to sport mode and things improve. There are four other driving settings including a snow mode to alter the car’s power and an “Eco” mode for optimal fuel economy.

And Safety? The new Lexus GS is equipped with some of the most technologically advanced pre-emptive, active and passive safety and driver assistance systems available on the market today.

Options?  Currently the 450h is the only new GS on sale but there are three different trim levels, the entry level Executive, the F Sport and the Premium level. Prices for the Lexus GS 450h start from €59,950 for the Executive grade. The F Sport will start from €72,950, with prices for the Premium grade starting from €76,250

How about Fuel Economy? When it comes to the pumps, this hybrid gives, as expected, good economy and averages 6.0 litres per 100km on a combined cycle.

Okay so the verdict? The Lexus GS450h makes a refreshing change and a worthy alternative to a German badged saloon. It combines advanced technology, good fuel economy with guilt free performance. In addition it comes equipped with the best of Lexus luxury and the premium styling expected by this segment. On the downside the starting price of €59,950 is pricey and the lack of a diesel offering in the GS range limits its overall appeal.

Why you’ll buy one: Guilt free Performance; Space

Why you won’t: Pricey; Economy while good is matched by an efficient diesel

Rivals:
Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTec Hybrid €51,020

BMW 530i ActiveHybrid 5 €73,590

Engine: 3.5-litre V6 petrol hybrid (Combined with electric) putting out 257kW(345bhp) and 252Nm of torque
Max speed: 250 km/h
0-100km/h: 5.9 seconds
Emissions (motor tax): 139g/km (Band B2 €280)
Starting price: €59,950
Model price range: €59,950– €76,250  
No of Doors: 4
Euro NCAP: Not yet been tested by Euro NCAP
Fuel type:  Petrol/Electric
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 6.0 litres /100km
Boot Capacity Seats up: 465 Litres
Car Seats: 2 Isofix fittings
Length: 4850mm
Width: 1840mm
Height: 1455mm
Wheelbase: 2850mm

For more information check out lexus.ie or the Lexus Ireland Facebook page.

9th January, 2013

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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