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
This Lexus GS 250 F Sport shows the manufacturer likes to do things a bit differently. While most rivals to the new GS offer a four-cylinder diesel engine at the range's entry point, Lexus has equipped the base GS 250 with a normally-aspirated 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine.
The model sits alongside the staple GS 450h hybrid in the all-new model's line-up, with sales of the two expected to be split 50:50.
What’s it like?
Our first sample of the new GS came in the F Sport version, which gets some BMW M Sport-style visual upgrades plus an Adaptive Variable Suspension system, which helps turn the new GS into a much greater dynamic proposition that its predecessor.
The ride is supple and composed when driven at low speeds in Normal model. It can be a bit fidgety at higher speeds and more abrasive surfaces, but select the driver-focused Sport S + mode and body control is much improved and it makes the GS 250 a rewarding car when you want to push on and attack corners.
The steering is also nicely weighted and provides decent feel if a little light, although again this can be rectified by selecting the Sport S+ mode which adds an extra 10 per cent of weight the to the electric system.
Perhaps the real highlight of this car is the engine. It's got a suitably rorty exhaust note and revs nicely throughout its powerband. But while the engine is the high, the six-speed automatic it is mated to is the biggest disappointment.
It's fine for gentle driving around town or long-distance cruises, but somewhat blunts progress for those wanting to have some fun. Its biggest problem is holding the gear too long and causing an uncomfortable sounding strain on the engine. It's better when manually controlled with the steering wheel-mounted paddles, however.
Should I buy one?
It feels genuinely refreshing to drive a naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine in a car in the GS's class, especially at the range’s entry point.
While Lexus may suffer in the market with no diesel as the decision to offer no engine smaller than this one will prevent many potential sales, those who still crave a genuinely good-to-drive saloon with a part-time sporty edge - and a V6 petrol engine under the bonnet - should add the new GS to their shopping list.
Lexus GS 250 F Sport
Price: £36,000 (est); Top speed: 143mph; 0-62mph: 8.6sec; Economy: 31.7mpg (combined); CO2: 207g/km; Kerb weight: 1700kg (est); Engine: V6, 2499cc, petrol; Power: 207bhp at 6400rpm; Torque: 187lb ft at 4800rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd auto