The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Lexus GS is not only a luxury performance saloon, it’s also an environmentally friendly one. A polished performer, but other executive chariots feel more special.
Reasons to buy:
- Environmentally friendly
- Excellent reliability
- Superb performance
How good does it look?
Understated and classy are the best buzzwords to describe the styling of the Lexus GS saloon. This car is every inch the svelte executive express. The sweeping roofline gives the GS an almost coupe-like stance, while the front and rear ends both reflect this smoothness with a look devoid of unnecessary clutter. But despite the all-important ‘h’ on the bootlid, denoting hybrid, the 450h is actually the high performance flagship of the range. That means a discreet bootlid spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels, unique to the model.
What's the interior like?
The Lexus GS saloon just manages to pull off the luxury look, while remaining true to its Japanese roots. There’s a plethora of buttons around the centre console, and a high-tech looking colour screen providing information on heating, audio, sat-nav, trip information and the status of the batteries and electric motors. The seats are leather, heated and move about electrically, of course, and are very comfortable, even on long journeys. Sadly the wood effect trim on the centre console and door cards look more like mottled brown plastic, and spoil an otherwise pleasant cabin. It’s fair to say a host of German executive rivals such as the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6 or Audi A7 Sportback certainly have the edge.
How practical is it?
For such a big car, the Lexus GS has a tiny boot thanks to a lot of space being taken up by batteries. This also means the seats won’t fold, so you’re stuck with just 280 litres of capacity. It’s far better in the cabin, with plenty of space for the occupants – particularly rear legroom. Only the sloping roofline reduces the interior space, restricting headroom for taller rear seat passengers.
What's it like to drive?
One of the musts for any luxury car buyer is a good ride quality. The Lexus GS soaks up bumps with the same ease as a Jaguar XF, but road noise can become intrusive over badly maintained A roads and motorways. Even after long-distance journeys, occupants will emerge relaxed and free from aches. Although the Lexus GS is no sportscar, our test car also proved itself worthy on twisting B roads while never losing its composure.
How powerful is it?
Fast. Hybrid. Those two words used to be mutually exclusive, but the Lexus GS has proved otherwise. It will hit 62mph from rest in less than six seconds and head on to 155mph, putting it in Subaru Impreza territory. At slow speeds the GS will run silently on its electric motors, while at moderate or cruising speeds, the petrol engine drives the wheels and recharges the battery. At full chat, the Lexus is powered by both its 292bhp 3.5-litre V6 engine and electric motor. Combined power adds up to the equivalent of a 450bhp V8 (hence the GS 450h badge).
How much will it cost me?
The Lexus GS 450h is rather expensive for a green car. Emitting 186g/km of CO2, the entry-level 450h incurs a 21 per cent Benefit in Kind rate, outperforming the equivalent BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 or Mercedes E-Class. It’s not so good when it comes to filling up though: we were about 8-10mpg away from Lexus’ claimed 35.8mpg average. Group 18 insurance is about average for an expensive high performance saloon car.
How reliable is it?
Lexus is Toyota’s luxury car division, so there should be few problems to worry about. It is a very complex car, so should there be some electrical gremlins, it’s likely to cost a packet. And the battery pack won’t be cheap to replace when it finally gives up the fight.
How safe is it?
The Lexus GS saloon is loaded with safety kit and scored a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Our test car featured Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) which is an advanced package of electronically-controlled braking, brake assist, brakeforce distribution, traction and stability control. The range-topping SE-L features Lexus’ Pre-Crash Safety system which anticipates impending collisions and primes the seat belt tensioners and brake assist for maximum protection. It has the most comprehensive airbag protection in its class, with dual-stage driver and passenger, two front knee, four curtain and front and rear side airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
All models in the range come with a huge list of standard features. The highlight is a full colour, dash-mounted screen which provides information on the state of the hybrid system, navigation, audio, climate control and telephone. The clever rear parking camera superimposes guide lines on the screen so the driver can quickly see whether a tight manoeuvre can be made in one go. The SE and SE-L models have a superb audio system with 5.1 surround sound. It’s just about the best system fitted to any car on sale today.
The Lexus GS 450h is luxury performance motoring with a conscience. It’s a marvellous car in its own right, and with clever use of the hybrid technology, it reduces its emissions without impacting on performance or driveability.