From £31,594
Improved GS is quiet, efficient and a worthy BMW rival
30 October 2009

What is it?

The facelifted Lexus GS450h for 2010.

For the coming model year, Lexus has brushed up the GS with some new exterior styling tweaks, primarily a new grille, new wheels and wider range of colours to keep it fresh.

Inside, there's a 'smarter' 40GB hard disc navigation system and two choices of DAB-ready audio kit, either 10 or 14-speaker system.

The GS' Pre Crash Safety system also gets upgraded. Both front seats get new, inflator-operated active headrests to protect the head and prevent whiplash in a rear-end impact.

The changes, announced at the Frankurt motor show in September, are already out in Japan where the hybrid GS450h comes in three grades and sits above the conventional GS350 and GS460 models in the range, which is different to the UK.

The upgrade also brings new 18-inch alloy wheels but the car's sophisticated 3.5-litre V6 rear drive hybrid system stays untouched.

What's it like?

Very smooth, fast and ultra refined, just like before. The GS450h is also beautifully presented throughout with a quality finish to die for.

As ever, Lexus claims V8 level performance from the V6 hybrid package and with 341bhp on tap (from the total system) that just about stacks up, although you're never going to get lusty V8 levels of noise.

This is a luxury car that glides off the line and then whacks in serious mid-range and top end thrust if you keep the right pedal down. The 3.5-litre V6, electric motor and CVT box are like silk and this is still one of the quietest, most cosseting cruisers around.

At low speeds, yes, you can run on electric motor alone and that's good for the planet. But the hybrid battery still fills up most of the boot so it's not a total home run.

For a big car, the GS450h is pretty tidy and wieldy through the twisties but you miss the fine balance and body control of the simpler (and underrated) GS 350.


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There's switchable damping. Normal gives you a touch too much body roll and float, while Sports cures all that but then the low speed ride becomes too knobbly.

No, this isn't not a sports saloon in the BMW mould but the Lexus is still pretty fleet, has a sophisticated feel and handy set of green credentials.

Should I buy one?

If the default German executive choice is not for you, then the Lexus GS450h is well worth a look.

Now in its fourth year, the Lexus's styling, presentation, comfort and speed have held up pretty well and the hushed hybrid V6 tech is as seamless as ever. On the emissions front, 186 g/km for C02 is still none too shabby, either.

The latest round of largely cosmetic changes improve an already impressive car. In many ways, the green-tinged GS450h still stacks up but in the image battle against the latest diesel Mercs, BMWs and Audis, inevitably it'll have its work cut out.

Peter Nunn

Join the debate


6 November 2009

I drove the current model when looking at changing my old Mercedes. It's eerily smooth and quiet and beautifully built but it rides like an overburdened mule, presumably thanks to half a hundredweight of Duracell's finest lying under the boot.

I tested the car at my local Lexus dealer. The launch promotion was that I could have the thing for an entire day, and I remember laughing out loud when approaching one of the A130 roundabouts at a speed the S-Class would have shrugged off with decorum but which upset the GS completely.

The road dips sharply and puts you gently round to the left, right before the white markings, and here the Lexus thunked onto its bump stops, my eyes ended up parallel with my shoulders and the back of the car made efforts to swap places with the front and merge with the traffic backwards. It felt so clumsy it was funny.

A hairy moment I did not describe to the salesman as I drove it back within 10 minutes of leaving, choosing instead to explain it "really wasn't for me". Which it bloody wasn't. And I don't see this one being any different - the Americans might love 'em but to me they all seem to drive like buses.


6 November 2009

Why do you never show a picture of the boot as it is the main draw back, has it improved from the previous model?

6 November 2009

Why are the emissions and fuel consumption of the GS450h so much worse than the RX450h. I was expecting the first sub-150g/km auto petrol exec. Yes, it's more powerful and faster but it's also 300kg lighter, 2wd and surely possessed of better aerodynamics.

RX450h vs GS450h

£41,600 - £41,990 (base spec)
148g/km - 179g/km
44.8mpg - 37.2mpg
7.8s 0-62 - 5.9s 0-62
183kw - 218kw
>2.1 tonnes - >1.85 tonnes
4wd - 2wd

Did the RX just measure particularly well?

7 November 2009

[quote alextottle]Why are the emissions and fuel consumption of the GS450h so much worse than the RX450h.[/quote]

A couple of quick guesses -

the RX engine uses the Atkinson cycle for economy and efficiency whereas the GS engine is a fair bit different and uses the Otto cycle for power and performance.

2WD versus 4WD makes less of a difference because the RX achieves 4WD using an electric motor, so doesn't suffer the drive train losses of a conventional 4WD system.

7 November 2009

Slightly off topic, but just last night got driven in an RX450h. while sitting in the back. It felt very well built and quiet, but boy was the ride brittle! The car transmitted literally every bump and hole the roads offered up.

The quiet operation of the suspension saved the day to some degree, but couldn't really mask the chassis's overall shortcomings in the ride comfort department. And I'm not sure if Lexus can excuse this away by saying the RX450h compensates by being a fine handling 4x4, because I doubt if it handles anywhere near as well as, say an X5.

10 November 2009

I have recently bought a pre registered 450h at a very substantially reduced price with the 2010 model coming in (still one of two around at less than 30k on the road - they are Irish Republic spec cars normally 72K Euros there) and I really do not agree with the comments here by Thwartedefforts. Whilst it is certainly not as communicative as the Jaguar S type I had before, it can be hustled along very well and on Saturday a hard driven S320 Cdi could not keep up with me around the roundabouts around the north of Milton Keynes and was mincemeat on the straights between where he did highly illegal speeds to catch me of the following roundabout. He was a local, I was not.

The interior quality is superb and the silence of operation is incredible and it is all to easy to forget what speed one is doing - that may well be what caught out Thwartedefforts. The only problem I have is the paint quality, hopefully a one off, and this is being looked at by Lexus.

Ride quality in normal mode is not quite up to Jaguar S type standards but still far better than the BMW 5 series I recently tried.

As long as you don't need a massive boot and fold down rear seats then this car should definitely be on one's list of cars to consider at just over 40k and was a steal for me at less than 30k with 10 miles on the clock.

11 November 2009

[quote enggeol]a hard driven S320 Cdi could not keep up with me around the roundabouts around the north of Milton Keynes and was mincemeat on the straights between where he did highly illegal speeds to catch me of the following roundabout. He was a local, I was not.[/quote]

First of all, you can't reallty compare the S-Class to the GS...they are in different classes...but anyway, I think that the point by Thwartedefforts was not that it was fast/slow, but merely the level of engineering of the suspension of the Lexus struggled at that particular roundabout...meaning that the GS isn't as accomplished at being a good handling car and being comfortable at the same time as much as the S-Class.

As for the performance, may I remind you that the Lexus's engine is much larger, has more power (but not much considering how much larger it is) and is relatively lighter when compared to the diesel S-Class...although I would hardly describe the Merc 3.0-litre engine as slow, either...

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