Lexus engineers are working on a super-frugal version of the new GS Hybrid according to company sources. Although the new 3.5-litre V6 GS450h has a CO2 rating, depending on specification, of between 137g/km and 141g/km, Lexus bosses recognise that the executive car market in Europe is increasingly dominated by four-cylinder diesel-engined models.
The new hybrid model will arrive in the second-half of 2013 and is likely to use a downsized six-cylinder petrol engine. Referring to the new four-cylinder Audi A8 hybrid, Yoshihiko Kanamori, chief engineer said that the need for in-cabin noise cancellation to improve refinement in the German car was one of the reasons that a Lexus GS ‘could never have a four-cylinder engine.’
Although the Japanese company would not reveal more about the new GS Hybrid (potentially badged GS350h) it is possible that it will use a version of the 204bhp 2.5-litre V6 engine that is fitted to the new GS250. Hitting a CO2 figure of 119g/km - matching the BMW 520ed - is the likely aim of the new model. It would, though, also offer higher performance than the four-pot BMW.
The UK has long been Lexus’s best market in Europe, but the brand has suffered a significant collapse in sales since the 2008 credit crunch. Sales hit 15,130 units in 2007, before dropping to just 8270 in 2011. Lexus UK expects to shift 9300 cars this year, rising to 15,000 in 2015, no doubt helped by the new super-frugal GS model. Lexus sold 410,000 units globally in 2011, with ‘60-70’ percent being sold in the US.