What is it?
The missing link in the GS range.
Until now, Lexus’s E-segment saloon had been without a BIK-friendly car capable of competing with the ultra efficient diesel-engined offerings of the Big Three at the critical business end of the market. The GS300h rectifies that oversight, and, in doing so, turns the model from novelty also-ran into genuine contender.
Why? Because its second hybrid now has the right combination of numbers to compete. With the far more frugal powertrain already seen in the IS300h now aboard, the GS’s efficiency figures shift from 141g/km CO2 and 46.3mpg combined (in the 450h) to, at best, 109g/km and 60.1mpg.
Taken at face value, those numbers are already brushing up against the best. Factor in the way in which oil burner’s are penalised in the BIK equation, and the cost of ownership benefit is compelling. Opt for the new entry-level SE trim car at a deliberately cut rate of £31,440, and you’ll be sitting in the class-leading premium cash saver.
Away from the headline gouger - complete with cloth upholstery, smaller 17-inch wheels and no sat-nav - the range does rear up a bit in price. It’s an additional £6k for the likely biggest-selling Luxury model, and a full £10,250 to the F Sport tested here. Prettier 19-inch alloys inevitably mean the vital statistics suffer, but at 115g/km and 56.5mpg, the GS is still ahead (or beneath?) the bulk of its rivals.
What is it like?
No matter what flavour it’s offered up in, Toyota’s smooth, soulless hybrid powertrain does have a habit of utterly leveling a car’s dynamic identity.
Every single manoeuvre begins and ends with a very gentle background whine, like a milk float heard turning around two streets away from under a duvet. In between it is a model of eerie synthesis; blending hushed combustion with the waft of frictionless nickel-metal charge.
The tandem to and fro, in the GS300h’s case, is between Toyota’s unremarkable 178bhp 2.5-litre four-pot and a 141bhp electric motor, but, as ever, it’s the planetary gear set in the hybrid’s ingenious transaxle that deals out and ultimately defines the delivery. Seamlessly refined on the one hand, intractably remote on the other; the result is quiet, efficient and unashamedly charm free.
A combined output of 220bhp makes for a claimed 0-62mph time of 9.2 seconds - slower than most of its direct rivals, although just about swift enough to make the GS feel brisk when needs be. As with the IS, much pedal pushing is required to access real gusto; 85 per cent of the accelerator’s travel is unjoined-up calf flexor, having little or nothing to do with your expectations.
What the 300h would prefer, and where it’s best - and, to be fair, why you’ll have bought it - is the conscientious extraction of miles from its petrol tank and battery capacity. Endeavour to keep the car in Eco (one of five drive settings in the F Sport), or better yet, EV mode, and breeze along with it, and it’ll evaporate corporate stress as readily as anything.
Certainly that’s the attitude of the GS’s default handling posture. The proficient if occasionally pimply ride quality remains, as does the embalmed steering sensation, but you’ll get along fine with both in normal running.
Sport and Sport + modes ramp up drivetrain responsiveness and petrify damper function in the pursuit of more vigorous poise. Neither will ramp up your enjoyment of the car.
Should I buy one?
Not if you want unending invigoration and driver reward, clearly. But those are unusual commodities in a hybrid and rarer still in anything hailing from Lexus (excluding its momentous fray into supercar construction). Potentially that works in the GS300h’s favor; it is a model obviously meant to appeal to the bottom line of your pay cheque, and not coming from a brand renowned for immoderate flair, a dearth of dynamic talent is unlikely to hinder its success.
Align your priorities correctly, and the car is virtually a no-lose prospect, particularly in its base SE format. Fantastically well built, aggressively chiselled, pleasantly appointed, superbly quiet and nicely low volume, the GS300h has all the usual Lexus attributes, and now the numbers for it to make commercial sense. For some, that will be all the recommendation required.
Lexus GS 300h F Sport
Price £41,745; 0-62mph 9.2sec; Top speed 119mph; Economy 56.5mpg (combined); CO2 115g/km; Kerb weight 1830kg; Engine 4 cyls, 2494cc petrol, 141bhp electric motor; Power 178bhp at 6000rpm (220bhp combined); Torque na; Gearbox E-CVT