LEXUS has thoroughly reworked its hybrid mid-range luxury sedan, the GS450h, to deliver a sharper, more frugal and better-value green machine.
Based on the all-new fourth-generation GS from Toyota’s prestige car arm, the GS450h is the same front-engine, rear-drive format as the original hybrid GS, but with almost every component revisited.
One of the few constants between the first and second generation of GS450h sedans is the combined power output of the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and twin electric motors, which remains the same at 254kW.
But the car is quicker in the 0-100km/h sprint, at 5.9 seconds, as well as a claimed 20 per cent more fuel-efficient, with a combined consumption figure of 6.2 litres per 100km.
The GS450h remains the only hybrid luxury car in its class, but that is expected to change within months with the arrival of the first hybrid offerings from BMW and Infiniti, with Audi to follow next year.
Model release date: May 2012
LEXUS’ third-generation luxury mid-size sedan spawned Australia’s first luxury hybrid car, the GS450h, which arrived in Australia almost a year after the conventional petrol models.
The hybrid version became the mid-range model, sitting between the base V6 GS300 and V8 GS430, with an equipment level equal to the GS300 Sports Luxury and GS430.
Powered by a 218kW/368Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol/electric GS450h hybrid powertrain with a CVT transmission, the GS450h eclipsed the others for performance while bringing palpably better fuel consumption.
Combined, the petrol and electric motors delivered 254kW of power and 275Nm of instantaneous torque, while recording a claimed 7.9 litres per 100km fuel economy.
The V6 was the first volume production engine with two fuel injection systems – a direct-injection system and a multi-port injection system – which Lexus claims delivers more precise fuel monitoring across a broad rev-range.
The Aisin nickel-metal hydride battery pack, consisting of 40 batteries weighing a total of 69kg, is positioned above the rear axle, helping to contribute to an almost 50/50 weight distribution.
A 2008 facelift brought minor changes, including new front and rear bumper designs, new mirrors, and different wheels and door-handles.
Inside, all GS variants received a revised steering wheel, instrument panel, aluminium-look shift plate and revised flip-down control panel.
Unfortunately for Lexus, however, the GS was overlooked by most luxury sedan buyers, on account of its tight rear legroom and smallish boot, which shrunk even more in the otherwise intriguing GS450h hybrid version.
Sales slowed to a trickle, and almost led to Toyota in Japan pulling the plug on the GS series altogether.