The new Lexus GS 450h introduces hybrid power to the premium executive saloon market, a car that delivers exceptional performance to rival its conventional V8 competition, together with fuel economy and low emissions levels that yield equally powerful cost of ownership benefits.
Using the latest development of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system, the GS 450h follows the RX 400h luxury SUV in giving drivers a technically advanced but thoroughly practical and rational alternative to the high power petrol and diesel models that dominate the premium segment.
The GS 450h has a completely new, front engine, rear-wheel drive, series/parallel hybrid powertrain. It uses a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with a new D-4S (Direct-injection 4-stroke Superior-version) twin injector system with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent), developing 292bhp (296 DIN hp) and 368Nm of torque, mated to a compact, high-output, permanent magnet electric motor that generates 197bhp (200 DIN hp) and 275Nm of torque right from standstill.
With a combined power output of 341bhp (345 DIN hp), the GS 450h is not only the world’s most powerful production hybrid car, but also the first to achieve the 100 DIN hp per litre benchmark.
Another world-first is the GS 450h’s Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission – E-CVT – with sequential shift mode. Each of the six sequential ‘steps’ gives sharper engine braking force, in the manner of a conventional automatic gearbox in sequential mode.
The GS 450h can accelerate from nought to 62mph in 5.9 seconds and from 50 to 75mph in 4.9 seconds, maintaining linear acceleration all the way on to a top speed of 155mph, with none of the typical ‘jumps’ between gears experienced in a conventional drivetrain.
At the same time, the GS 450h returns 35.8mpg in combined cycle driving, fuel consumption that is on a par with C-segment petrol cars. Carbon dioxide emissions are 186g/km, which matches the performance of four-cylinder economy diesels in the premium segment, and combined emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons (HC) are lower than for any other vehicle powered by a combustion engine at 0.01g/km.
The new GS 450h has ideal 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution and also a better moment of inertia compared to the GS 430 model, as the 3.5-litre V6 is 17 per cent lighter than the 4.3-litre V8. These aspects contribute to the car’s more dynamic, agile handling.
The Electric Power Steering (EPS) incorporates Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), which alters the steering gear ratio according to vehicle speed. This gives minimal steering effort at low speeds, with improved feel and feedback as speed increases. The VGRS system is linked to the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and Lexus’s Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, helping maintain stability and increasing driver enjoyment up the limit of the car’s performance capabilities.
The front double wishbone and rear multilink suspension design includes an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, offering Sport and Comfort settings. Sport mode increases the difference between inner and outer shock absorber damping through corners to help reduce body roll.
SE-L versions of the GS 450h feature Lexus’s Pre-Crash Safety (PCS) system, which primes the front seatbelts and emergency braking when an unavoidable frontal collision is detected. This works in tandem with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which automatically matches the speed of the GS 450h to that of the vehicle ahead, maintaining a safe distance.
The GS 450h is also equipped with the latest generation of Lexus’s Vehicle Integrated Dynamics Management (VDIM), which co-ordinates the ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Traction Control (TRC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with the Active Variable Suspension (AVS), Electronic Power Steering (EPS) and Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) to improve vehicle stability and handling, up to its performance limits.
The passive safety package includes a class-leading complement of front, knee, side and curtain airbags, augmented on SE and SE-L versions by additional rear side airbags.
The GS 450h can be identified as the high performance flagship of the GS range by its ‘Hybrid’ badging to the rear of the sills and bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels. SE and SE-L models are equipped with a discreet bootlid spoiler.
Inside the cabin, the GS 450h benefits from the same attention to detail applied to the other models in the GS range, with the design and operation of controls and features with optimum ease and refinement.
The GS 450h is equipped with a comprehensive range of technologically advanced equipment, designed both to simplify and enhance life on board. These include Smart Key access, sequenced interior lighting as driver or passengers enter or leave the vehicle, push-button engine start-up and steering-sensitive parking sensors.
It also features the only fully electric climate control air conditioning system in its segment, reducing the impact on fuel economy and performance compared to conventional systems.
In the cabin, the instrument panel remains clearly visible in all light conditions, thanks to the new Electronic Chromatic Device (ECD). This uses a light sensor in the high-mounted stop light to gauge the ambient light level and adjust the brightness of the Optitron instrument dials accordingly.
SE and SE-L models are fitted as standard with the new Lexus Multimedia and Navigation package. This includes a 14-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround System with six-disc DVD autochanger, Bluetooth connectivity and the Lexus Parking Assist Monitor.
The latest generation Lexus Navigation System delivers faster route calculation and clearer graphics, using enhanced display technology via a seven-inch Electro Multi Vision (EMV) touch-screen. Voice commands can be used to control navigation, audio, air conditioning and hands-free telephone functions.
In the UK, the launch of the new GS range in April 2005 revitalised the range, with year-end sales figures up by almost 700 per cent to 1,820 units. For the remainder of 2006 Lexus expects to sell 700 GS 450h models, accounting for 30 per cent of all GS sales. In 2007 the annual total is expected to rise to 750 units.
The new Lexus GS 450h enters the premium executive segment with tax rates that will save drivers thousands of pounds each year compared to the bills incurred by competitor models. Emitting 186g/km of carbon dioxide, the GS 450h SE incurs a benefit-in-kind rate for company car tax of 21 per cent. With a list price of £43,920, that produces an annual tax bill of £3,672.
Service intervals are every two years/20,000 miles, with a health and safety inspection annually or every 10,000 miles, including an oil and filter check. Low maintenance requirements and ownership costs are supported by the use of long-life components such as air filter and spark plugs, and the use of cheaper mineral grade engine oil.
The GS 450h is covered by Lexus’s three-year/60,000-mile manufacturer’s warranty, a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and for added peace of mind, the vehicle’s high voltage battery and hybrid components are protected by a five-year/60,000-mile warranty.
The new GS 450h is on sale now, in three models:
GS 450h: £38,015
GS 450h SE: £43,920
GS 450h SE-L: £46,765