Introducing the world’s first luxury hybrid performance sedan: the GS 450h. With its rear-wheel drive, uncompromised luxury and incredible power, this future Lexus is certain to please. It features a new hybrid powertrain that merges a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a high-output electric-drive motor. Together they provide a combined force of more than 300 horsepower, not to mention smooth, continuous acceleration.
To be perfectly honest with you, Hybrids aren’t really my cup of tea. Maybe, it’s my European background, but I’d rather drive a modern diesel unit, if it’s a case of saving a few bucks on fuel. Yet nowadays, the Hybrid vehicles appear to have reached an almost status symbol level, with Hollywood stars buying them to prove to us mortals that they’re “earth friendly folk” who truly care about our environment.
Come on now, does anyone actually believe these people? You don’t think that maybe one or two of those multi-million dollar screen idols just might have an odd gas guzzling Rolls or Mercedes lying around their palatial estates. Think about it, these are the same people who regularly jet around the world on shopping whims. Do you have any idea how much fuel a Lear Jet can go through on a perfume buying trip to Paris? I don’t either, but I’m guessing it’s a tad more than you burn or your trip down to the local Home Hardware.
Ok, so why on earth would Lexus give me, of all people, a GS 450H Hybrid to review? Are they just plain nuts, or did they honestly believe that I would actually be impressed by their offering?
With that said, I now firmly believe that the Lexus Company employs only “psychic, gifted people”, as I was totally amazed by their GS 450H. This vehicle has it all, luxury, size, fuel efficiency, and best of all “it goes like a rocket”.
The luxury side is a simply a no-brainer. After all, it is a Lexus that we’re talking about here. It boasts wood and leather in abundance, a Mark Levinson Audio System, a touch-screen Satellite Navigation System and rear back-up camera. It even has a nifty Power Rear Sunshade. The GS 450H comes in only one trim level; I see it as “totally loaded”; Lexus prefers to say that it “leaves nothing wanting”. Either way, I think that you get the idea.
Then we have size. The GS 450H is certainly no light-weight roller skate. It is comparable to many other luxury brand offerings, and it is definitely large enough to make an impression. In fact, from the side profile, it looks slightly like the Bentley GT which is one of my favorite cars.
Of course, fuel costs are soaring and unlike those Hollywood folk, my underwear is not encrusted with diamonds, so I have to actually worry about fuel economy.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that this car runs on fresh air. In fact, as I live near Toronto, that wouldn’t necessarily be a good idea anyway, as clean air can sometimes be harder to find than cheap gas. The fuel-economy figures for the GS 450H are given as 8.7L/100 km in the city, 7.8 L/100 km on the highway (8.3 L/100 km combined). These are impressive numbers and as the car also qualifies as a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV), we could all breath a little easier if there were more of these on the road.
Now we come to my favorite part, the performance. Hybrids may well be a sensible and environmentally-friendly mode of transport, but they’ve never quite managed to set my pulses racing. That is, until now. The Lexus GS 450H can accelerate from 0-100 kph in less than six seconds. No, that’s not a typo! I did say “in less than six seconds”. Think about that for a minute. This 3.5 litre V6/Hybrid can actually outperform a lot of so-called sports cars. Yet at the same time, it’s great on fuel, fabulously luxurious to drive, and is helping my fellow participants in this world breathe a little easier.
So where’s the catch? Why aren’t the roads full of these Lexus wonders?
It’s certainly not because you have to be a known name or face on television to afford one. In my opinion, Lexus has priced this vehicle very comfortably in the market, even though it’s up in the 70k bracket. Now that might sound like a big chunk of change to a lot of people. However, if you do a little homework into what companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW are charging for similar high-end vehicles, you’ll find that the Lexus compares rather favorably. Add in the benefits of Hybrid technology and all the obvious advantages that this offers, and the GS 450H becomes an absolute bargain.
So back to my question, why aren’t the roads full of them?
The only explanation that I can come up with is that there are too many people out there like me. I had to drive this vehicle for myself, or I would never have believed it possible for a Hybrid vehicle like this to exist. You can call this review “Crash Corrigan’s journey of enlightenment”, if you like. You could even say that I’ve finally woken up and smelled the coffee. But if this is the future of Hybrid vehicles, then all I can say is “bring them on, as this boy’s looking forward to turning green”.
The only trouble that I can foresee is the fact that the celebrities are not going to want to drive around in a vehicle which doesn’t look like a Hybrid. However, they are going to have to make a choice. Either, they can drive around in their present little machines, looking foolish and having us laugh at them. Or, drive their big gas guzzling Rollers and Benz models, and have us scream at them.
Of course, they could always buy a Lexus GS 450H, and drive around in luxury while still helping to save our planet. The only thing that they will have to do is install large Hybrid decals on the vehicle, or no one will believe them.
The GS 450h features the Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) powertrain. It includes a 3.5-litre V6 engine and high torque electric motor that combine to deliver 335 horsepower at 6,200 rpm – for performance equivalent to a 4.5-litre V8. This system is engaged through the Lexus Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence (ETCS-i), and delivers power to the P245/40R18 performance summer radials mounted on unique 18-inch alloys via an Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT). The V6 gasoline engine also features Lexus’ innovative combined direct and port fuel injection. The overall result is quick yet smooth acceleration from 0- 62mph in less than six seconds, with compact sedan fuel economy and a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) emissions rating.
The GS 450h is fully equipped with systems that enable the driver to harness and direct its hybrid power to push the vehicle to its performance limits with confidence. The electric power steering features variable gear ratio steering, while the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) includes electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Both are enhanced through the Lexus Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, which automatically makes subtle adjustments to steering and acceleration to enable the driver to push the GS 450h to its performance limits without losing control. The GS 450h is also equipped with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Traction Control (TRAC), while the independent, double wishbone front suspension and multi-link control arm rear suspension both feature active height control systems and stabilizers for the ultimate in performance and handling.
In addition to VDIM, VSC and other control systems, the GS 450h is fully equipped with active and passive safety features, including high intensity discharge headlamps with automatic light control system, auto levelling headlamp system, headlamp washers, and fog lamps, dual-stage airbag supplemental restraint systems (SRS) plus knee airbags for both driver and front passenger, plus front and rear seat side airbags and head/side curtain airbags. All positions have three-point lap and shoulder belts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, and the GS 450h includes anchor points for child restraint seats, child protector rear door locks, and a factory installed first aid kit and tool kit.
Comfort and convenience features
The Lexus GS 450h is fully-loaded with standard features that make it a joy to own and drive. These include, but are not limited to: a 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with AM/FM/cassette and compact disc DVD autochanger and steering wheel controls; a DVD-based navigation system with back-up camera; Bluetooth compatibility; power telescoping steering wheel with auto tilt and memory; power windows with auto up/down function for all positions; power door locks with smart-key entry system and key lockout protection; push button start; cruise control; power moonroof; power rear sunshade; dual illuminated vanity mirrors; built-in garage door opener; and accessory power outlets.
The GS 450h wraps performance, safety and comfort in the L-Finesse style that is unmistakably Lexus. From its sculpted form, clean exterior lines, aluminum alloy wheels and power moonroof, to its wood and leather interior trim, welcoming interior lighting, and attention to detail, the GS 450h sets new standards for style and luxury.
"The GS 450h joins our very popular RX 400h luxury hybrid SUV to bring the benefits of hybrid power and efficiency to all Canadian luxury vehicle buyers, whatever their needs", Payne concluded. "We’re the first luxury automobile company to do this, and only Lexus can offer both a hybrid luxury car and SUV for environmentally conscious consumers to choose from, without sacrificing luxury refinements or performance."
The 2007 GS 450h will go on sale in Canada in April. Pricing details will be released closer to the on-sale date.