Lexus reveals dedicated luxury hybrid model
12 January 2009

Lexus has finally revealed the long-rumoured Prius-style Lexus HS250h at the Detroit motor show.

The Lexus HS250h is billed as the world's first dedicated luxury hybrid and is designed to be a plusher Toyota Prius. Destined solely for the US market, the Lexus HS250h is expected to go on sale in the summer.

The big surprise is that the Lexus HS250h doesn't rely heavily on Prius mechanicals, being based on its own unique front-drive platform and with a different petrol engine, although the HS250h runs a nickel metal hydride battery similar to the one in the Toyota Prius.

Where the Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, the HS250 has a 187bhp 2.4-litre engine, allied to an electric motor.

The design owes something to the current Lexus line-up, but it clearly caters for American tastes, inside and out. Lexus is keen to point out the low drag factor of 0.27, but even the new Mercedes E-class is more aerodynamically efficient with a drag coefficient of 0.25.

High kit levels are promised, including Lexus's new telematics system. This means that the HS250h will cost more than the slightly smaller base-model IS when it goes on sale.

The HS is being made in Japan and a Japanese-market model is expected soon. Lexus insiders admit that there's little chance of the HS250h going on sale in Europe.

Chas Hallett

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