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Lexus GS 450H F-Sport 2012 Review

Sports and hybrid are words not usually seen together. And while the F Sport version of the second-generation Lexus GS 450h is not exactly stimulating and involving to drive in a sporty sense, it does live up to its claim of performance without penalty.

VALUE

At $111,900, the F Sport is $10,000 less than the Luxury Sport version, which comes with features such as a heads-up display, a tyre pressure monitor and eight parking sensors, even polyurethane-coated paint that repairs scratches when exposed to sunlight. 

The F Sport adds all-wheel-steer hybrid, sports suspension settings, bigger brakes, automatic high-beam, 19-inch wheels, an 18-setting driver's seat, pre-collision and cruise control systems.

DESIGN

You expect Lexus quality inside and you get it. The materials, the finish, the layout and even the stitching are flawless. Not so attractive is the angular and aggressive lower lip spoiler included in the sports body kit.

TECHNOLOGY

Powered by a 254kW hybrid drivetrain, it accelerates from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds yet has a combined fuel use of 6.3l/100km, a 20 per cent improvement over its predecessor at 7.9l/100km. Emissions of CO2 have fallen to a class-leading 147g/km.

And the benefits continue. A more compact hybrid battery helps expand boot space by 45 per cent to 465 litres and the redesigned chassis provides more interior space. The chassis is also stiffer and with the battery mounted lower the weight distribution is close to an ideal 50:50, which improves handling. 

The 3.5-litre V6 engine is now an Atkinson cycle, which has improved efficiency by 20 per cent while retaining the previous engine's 254kW output and lifting torque from 317Nm to 352Nm. An Atkinson Cycle engine has a higher compression ratio than a conventional Otto Cycle.

DRIVING

Most of the time it feels as if you are guiding the F Sport rather than driving it. The first thing you notice is the lack of starter-motor noise. Push the start-stop button and the dash lights up and signals “Ready''. Flick the gear selector into drive, press the accelerator and off you go, the petrol engine kicking in only when needed and shutting itself down when coasting or stationary. 

There is no noise on idle and just a slight shudder when the petrol engine kicks in. A low whine when slowing indicates regenerative braking. Driven sedately it potters around without fuss, switching at will between electric and petrol. Bury the right foot and it launches itself with enough thrust to chirp the wheels on a damp surface and delivers enough seamless punch to keep you pinned back in the seat. 

Power application is silky smooth and linear. Acceleration is strong, even on light throttle, such is the electric motor's high torque at low revs. But the driving experience is all a bit remote; the engine note is so well muted it's barely audible, the steering feels lifeless on the straight and then there is the quirky nature of the switching between petrol and electric. 

Despite myriad micro-second decisions going on internally, there is no need for the driver to intervene. All the swapping and sharing is done automatically.

VERDICT

It’s a large car with flat, agile cornering and a comfortable, well-controlled ride.

Lexus GS 450H F Sport

Price: $111,900
Warranty: 4 years/100,000km
Resale: 57 per cent
Service interval: 10,000km/6 months
Safety rating: 5 star
Spare: space-saver
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 petrol 215kW/352Nm; 147kW/275Nm electric motor
Transmission: CVT auto; RWD
Body: 4.9m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.5m (h)
Weight: 1910kg
Thirst: 6.3 1/100km; 91 RON; 147g/km Co2

Pricing Guides

$33,000
Based on 15 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$27,685
Highest Price
$37,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GS250 F Sport 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,120 – 26,730 2012 Lexus GS 2012 GS250 F Sport Pricing and Specs
GS450h Hybrid 3.5L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $24,310 – 30,030 2012 Lexus GS 2012 GS450h Hybrid Pricing and Specs
GS450h Hybrid F Sport 3.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $25,300 – 31,240 2012 Lexus GS 2012 GS450h Hybrid F Sport Pricing and Specs
GS450h Hybrid Luxury 3.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $22,660 – 27,940 2012 Lexus GS 2012 GS450h Hybrid Luxury Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$22,000

Lowest price, based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

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