What is it?
You're looking at the future of the performance four-door. No kidding. Here’s a V6-powered luxury saloon that’s quicker to 60mph than a Tiptronic Porsche 911; quicker than any V8 rival, including the BMW 545i. Yet it’s more than 30 per cent more economical, and pumps out 80 per cent less CO2. Drum roll please: it’s the brand new Lexus GS450h. The ‘h’ is what’s key here.
It signifies the hybrid technology crammed into the engine bay. Unlike Toyota’s eco-weenie Prius, which uses electro-hybrid power to boost economy, Toyota’s Lexus division uses it for the unrelenting pursuit of power. The technology is mind-blowing, and would take up the rest of this week’s issue to fully explain, but it’s very similar to that used in the RX400h off-roader, though here using a 3.5-litre 292bhp V6 similar to the one in the forthcoming IS350.
This is coupled to not one, but two electric motors. MG1 – short for Motor Generator 1 – functions as a generator and starter. MG2 is the muscle part, delivering an additional 197bhp and 203lb ft. It’s enough to drive the GS around town on electric power alone. And as with all hybrids, there’s a stash of nickel metal-hydride batteries – 40 in the case of the GS – packed tightly between the rear seat and the boot (reducing boot space by 40 per cent).