First DriveThe Lexus GS450h might offer plenty of pace and reasonable running costs on paper, but diesel alternatives make more sense
First DriveNew hybrid plugs the gap in the current GS range as a credible alternative to frugal German diesel execs; but GS300h fails to offer any driver engagement
What is it?
A surprise arrival from Lexus. Originally this naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre V6 GS wasn’t intended for our shores but with very positive feedback from various internal sources at Lexus the decision was made that it would enter Britain’s large exec market in June next year as a rival for the likes of the BMW 523i and Mercedes E250 CGI.
What’s it like?
Well it seems that the positive feedback was all pretty accurate because this is a really well-judged exec. Perhaps due to the huge reduction in capacity and the exclusion of the weighty hybrid system, as well as the 18-inch alloys that our test car came with, the 250 rides with noticeably less patter at low speeds and yet retains the same decent body control.
Our test car came with the adaptive dampers that automatically shuffle between nine different settings depending on driving style and road conditions, and the driver can select more sporting settings that will keep the car in the firmer ranges of the damper movement. And they do the job very well. The slightly desensitised and light, if nicely granular steering means that this is not as focused-feeling as the BMW but it’s not far off the same sort of serene, flowing sensation that Mercedes specialises in, and the excellent low-speed refinement only goes to emphasise that sensation too.
Without the rear-wheel steer that the new optional dynamic handling package (as found on the new Lexus GS 450h), it feels a little blunter on turn-in, the six-speed torque converter auto is not as quick as the various double-clutch systems available elsewhere but regardless this is a car that offers a well-balanced compromise for the class it targets.
Should I buy one?
Difficult to say until the official figures are out and with minor finishing touches still to be made before the car goes into production, but there’s no doubt that this is a decent car to drive and a step up on the old GS.
Price: £32,000 (est); Top speed: 140mph (est); 0-62mph: 8.3sec (est); Economy: 35mpg (est); Co2: 180g/km (est); Kerb weight: 1700kg (est); Engine type: 2499cc, V6, petrol; Power: 200bhp (est); Torque: 190lb ft (est); Gearbox: 6-spd auto