Due to the relentless development pace of car design and the fact that the German manufacturers have finally produced hybrid executive models, the GS had gone from class-leading to dropping out of the Guide. To uphold Japanese pride something had to be done, and this is the Lexus response, the latest GS 450h.
The Toyota side of the family has the ‘ultimate fuel consumption’ hybrid market covered which gives Lexus a little leeway to develop performance orientated hybrids, which is why the 450h gets a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine. So the electric bit of the system has got its work cut out if the GS is going to provide a balance between performance and economy.
Of course Lexus does know what it’s doing when it comes to hybrids, and the electric system is sufficiently meaty to play its part. In fact the electric motor can kick out 197 bhp on its own, but don’t expect any extended electric-only running, as the nickel metal hydride batteries can only cope with 0.6 of a mile at a time.
Rather than being overly reliant on either the engine or the motor, the two are designed to work seamlessly together, which to be fair they do. Most people would struggle to tell what the system is doing without the power meter and fancy graphics accessible through the massive colour screen. What you will notice is the seemingly incompatible kick in the back acceleration and hushed cruising.
The GS 450h is back with a bang. It offers the choice of mega performance or good fuel economy (although not at the same time!) all wrapped up in a confidently-styled exterior and a lovingly crafted interior. It is a bit on the heavy side and the price is steep compared to conventional rivals, but not when compared to hybrid rivals.