BMW 5 Series 2014 review
BMW Australia has given its 5 Series range a mid-life upgrade with some minor styling changes, engine enhancements and added value for money by including its 'Lines' packages as standard.
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The Lexus GS300h has attracted a steady stream of happy passengers during its time in our hands. Provided those passengers aren't perched on the middle seat in the back, not a single person has had anything negative to say about the GS experience.
From the driver's point of view, the GS is a quiet, easy car. Until recently, it had spent its time almost exclusively pounding the streets of Sydney. Now a family event called us north for a quick overnight trip and a chance to test the big hybrid on the open road.
As part of the experiment, we filled the tank and set off north. As expected, Sydney's traffic was horrendous on Sunday morning as public transport and road authorities' continuing policy failures and bizarre maintenance decisions turn the roads into a series of funnels.
Immediately the passengers began to review the car. The first consensus reached was how smooth the 300h is - with its electric motor moving us along with that distant whine, there's no shunting or gaps in the pick-up. It's no rocket, but adequate in the real-world rather than Rolls-Royce sense.
Once we finally escaped the dreariness of a wet Sydney Sunday, we hit the Pacific Highway, set the cruise control and headed for Port Macquarie. Despite the lashing rain and the appalling road surface, the car was completely unruffled.
Loaded with people and stuff, the Lexus shrugged off the first chunk of the journey to Newcastle - where grumbling passengers were forced out of the lap of luxury and to a cafe with decent coffee rather than the suggested fast-food option.
The rear seat passengers remarked on the effortless comfort in the rear - the seats front and back are well-shaped and unashamedly biased towards comfort. The way they hold your body feels deliberate and meant for long trips. No aches, pains or groans, no matter how advanced the age of the occupant.
The second leg proved equally easy. Keeping an eye on the fuel gauge, the almost two tonne luxury sedan was averaging just 5.1 litres per 100km out on the open road. What's more, our crawling around Newcastle had largely been in electric mode, meaning just a small increase as we negotiated the city's streets.
We'd covered well over 900km and, crucially, hadn't been anywhere near a petrol station.
The first of two of the car's few faults became obvious on the northbound leg. It's not a fault in the traditional sense, but the F Sports fat tyres found a surface on the Pacific that created a tremendously irritating din. While that's not wholly the car's fault - the road surface is largely to blame - the fact that the racket slipped through the NVH defences is telling.
The second came to the fore when looking for the evening's lodgings. The passengers had organised their own and mine were in town. I punched in the address on the sat-nav and it took me somewhere completely wrong. Over the next twenty four hours the sat-nav twice misled us, leaving us no alternative but to rely on the none-too-brilliant Apple Maps for directions.
In big cities the sat-nav is fine, but outside them, forget it. The input method is also mildly puzzling but newer Lexuses are fixing that and one expects the GS's will be next in line.
Family event complete, we turned around and headed back south to Sydney. Pounding down the Pacific and straight into yet more torrential rain, the GS again proved itself to be the least fatiguing mode of transport imaginable.
Apart from that same stretch of road, the noise dimmed by all that water, conversation was easy at the legal limit, from any seat in the house.
By the time the journey was over, we'd covered well over 900km and, crucially, hadn't been anywhere near a petrol station. That's brilliant going for a big heavy car like this one, diesel or petrol.
The combination of CVT and 2.5 litre petrol engine coupled with electric locomotion may not be the fastest package on the road - far from it - but it's an able cruiser with enough grunt to safely overtake without causing sweaty palms.
By far its strongest capabilities lie within - the big airy cabin with comfortable heated and ventilated seats, effective climate control and gadgets that do a lot of the thinking for you (blind spot monitoring, heads-up display, active cruise control, auto headlights and washers) mean an easy long distance drive.
You could easily drive it between Sydney and Melbourne or Sydney and Brisbane and be ready to do it all again the next day.
That's quite a feat.
|GS250 F Sport||2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$33,330 – 39,710||2014 Lexus GS 2014 GS250 F Sport Pricing and Specs|
|GS300h Hybrid F Sport||2.5L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO||$30,470 – 36,740||2014 Lexus GS 2014 GS300h Hybrid F Sport Pricing and Specs|
|GS300h Hybrid Luxury||2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO||$27,610 – 33,330||2014 Lexus GS 2014 GS300h Hybrid Luxury Pricing and Specs|
|GS300h Hybrid Sports Luxury||2.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO||$36,190 – 43,120||2014 Lexus GS 2014 GS300h Hybrid Sports Luxury Pricing and Specs|
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