Lexus GS450h: Test Drive Review
29 June 2012
|P11D price:|| £44,815|
|Key rival:|| Infiniti M35h |
A generous specification, luxurious cabin and eye-catching looks have been staples of the Lexus GS since the original version debuted in the early 1990s.
In some ways the fourth generation car marks a return to that first model, with simpler twin front light covers again (rather than four separate units) and the reintroduction of a petrol-only model due to pent-up retail demand after the third generation model's late hybrid-only policy.
The UK gets two models from launch: the entry-level 209hp 2.5-litre GS250 petrol and the 345hp 3.5 GS450h. The former will be the big seller for 2012, taking 60% of total sales, but with only 31.7mpg and 207g/km of CO2 to offer, the majority of sales will be to retail buyers. Businesses are expected to lean more towards the hybrid's 46.3mpg and 141g/km CO2 (for a 19% BIK).
Those familiar with the CT200h will recognise the driving controls. The display is clear and changes function and colour according to four driving modes, including a digital rev counter, which only appears in Sport S and Sport S+ mode, and a green light to indicate full-electric travel - possible up to 25mph or for 0.62 miles. Luckily, with a smooth V6 petrol mated to the electric motor and CVT automatic transmission, there's none of the strained high-pitched noises of the smaller CT200h's 1.8-litre engine at high revs.
The GS450h's progress is effortless and it can be left in full automatic mode or adjusted via the paddle shifters to hold onto gears for longer. In Sport S+ mode the steering and suspension become firmer and the throttle sharper, but there's still a slight feeling of detachment from the driving process.
Specification is generous with excellent safety gear (10 airbags), creature comforts (ventilated and heated leather seats) and functional tools (colour satnav) on new mid-range Luxury or F Sport trims.
Diesel engines are off the agenda for Lexus, but the GS will become more fleet-competitive in mid-2013 when a low-displacement hybrid arrives, but still with a V6 petrol engine to keep things smooth. Until then, this still smart model looks set to be only of niche interest to businesses.
|Lexus GS 450h Luxury|
|Model price range||£32,995-£50,995|
|Cost per mile||96.5p|
|CO2 (tax) ||141g/km (19%)|
|BIK 20/40% per month||£142/£284|
|Boot space||465 litres|
|On sale ||July 1 2012|