If there’s one area where the GS450h really scores, it’s refinement. Even the best diesels still have a telltale clatter that is completely absent on the petrol-fuelled Lexus. If that’s not smooth enough then there’s always the car’s party piece; being able to run silently on electricity alone.
Admittedly, this is for only very short periods. Even though the battery pack still eats into the boot space (you get nearly 70 litres extra in a GS F), it’s only good enough for low speeds, downhill sections or very brief bursts. There’s also no option of charging the car from the mains.
Even so, you can feel the effects of the electric motor when the engine is running. Low down torque is augmented effectively, ensuring you get a seamless surge of acceleration from low revs. Overtaking is a painless process and there’s more than enough power to accelerate to motorway speeds with ease.
If you do stick your foot down, you’ll soon notice the type of transmission Lexus employs: the CVT. As with other similar gearboxes, a flattened pedal makes the V6's revs soar and stay there. While it’s not the worst-sounding engine, it does seem a little odd to those used to multiple gearchanges when building speed.
So it’s brisk, but can it live up to the economy claims? Well, it isn’t terrible given the performance on offer, but it is comfortably behind the best diesels on a run. Urban economy will probably be much closer, though. Stop-start driving shows hybrids in their best light, which is why there’s a good chance you’ll see a Prius if you order an Uber.
While the sporty add-ons of F Sport trim may suggest a fun drive, the handling is nothing to write home about. Sure, it’s safe, grippy and the car can be placed precisely, but there’s no fun to be had here. Even though the ride errs on the side of firm, even in it’s comfiest suspension setting, it never feels overly agile and there’s no feedback channelling through the front tyres.
As for the interior, there’s a lot to like but plenty to dislike, too. Material quality is, for the most part, good and the seats are both comfortable and supportive. Unfortunately, it just can’t match the overall ambiance of an Audi or the cohesiveness of a BMW's cabin.
To make matters worse, the infotainment system is one of the most frustrating to use of any manufacturer. Although you get a big screen in the centre of the dash and another display in front of the driver, the joystick control makes selecting the icon you want tricky. As for entering addresses into the sat-nav, the air often turns a vivid shade of blue.
To its credit, the Lexus does at least come with a very high level of standard specification. Unlike the German rivals, you probably won’t find yourself delving too deeply into the options list.