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Lexus GS450h 2008 Review

The GS450h is also the world’s first rear-wheel drive hybrid and is powered by a 3.5 litre V6 petrol DOHC petrol engine producing 218kW at 6400rpm and 368Nm at 4800rpm.

Mated to the V6 are two high output electric motors that recharge using the kinetic energy produced when braking. The first one starts the car while the second drives the rear wheels. Both motors put out 147kW, and when combined with the petrol engine, 254kW is produced.

An electronically-controlled, continously variable transmission ensures subtle gear changes and allows both petrol and electric motors to act as one.

Suspension up front is independent, double wishbone, with independent, multi-link at the rear, and a choice of ‘normal’ or ‘sport’ mode according to your driving style.

Using 95+ RON PULP to fill the 65 litre tank, the luxury hybrid should burn 7.9 litres every 100kms.

The slightly refined design reduces drag for better aerodynamics, while the long bonnet, pulled-back cabin and short muscular rear give the vehicle a strong, purposeful stance.

A rear-view camera with rear guide assist, and electrochromatic side mirrors that dim to prevent headlight glare, are just two of the exterior features that make this car easier to drive. Add to that a pre-collision safety system, rain-sensing wipers and a power-operated moonroof, and Lexus’s focus on cutting-edge technology for the GS450h is obvious.

Other exterior features include five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon active cornering headlights and a rear spoiler.

In the multi information display, a constant reminder that you are driving a hybrid is a power meter that updates you on the total power output and advises which systems are operating.

The clean intuitive dash is highlighted by woodgrain and metallic trim, and by the multi function steering wheel that incorporates controls for the audio, cruise control and phone.

Matching the exterior for features, inside the car you also get climate-controlled seats with memory, a Mark Levinson audio system, DVD-based sat nav, leather upholstery, front seat head restraints and sufficient cup holders and storage pockets.

In addition to the pre-collision system, you get ABS, EBD, VCS, a comprehensive airbag package, Active Cruise Control that detects vehicles in front and adjusts speed accordingly, and electrically controlled braking.

The Lexus GS450h starts at $128, 899.

Driving though the city was comfortable. The steering at low-ish speeds was surprisingly heavy but we liked that – it made us feel like we were driving a cheap Benz. But the thing is, the Lexus not cheap. For a minute let’s just forget the hybrid aspect.

At $128,000, it's too close in price to the Mercedes C63 AMG and too far over the $80k Holden Grange to be an option. Unless it’s all about the hybrid aspect for you, which is very effective both from a performance and efficiency aspect.

An 80k drive on the freeway was uneventful. Acceleration was good and in a very small way it delivered that slot car feel you just know the performance electrics will have when they get here.

We had to constantly feed in steering, which was too light - now at speed. Both aspects were very annoying.

We did find the thing amusing or maybe disturbing when we started it again back at the office - it was hot and fully charged. After a couple of goes we realised it was in complete electric mode. There was absolutely no engine noise when starting.

The electric experience was good and the dash and gauges for the hybrid display were fun to watch.

A comparison can be made between the evolution of the mobile phone and that of hybrid electrics. The Prius is the early brick in that it basically got the ball rolling, the GS450h is the slim flip phone -- starting to get a bit more function and style. But unfortunately we are a long way off an iPhone and it may be Mercedes, rather than Lexus, that will get us to that point.

However, this is an important car as it represents a stage in the life of the current leader in hybrid technology. Let’s all just hope they go the way of the brick mobile phones and lose their dominance.



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Range and Specs

GS450H Hybrid 3.5L, Hyb/ULP, CVT AUTO $10,100 – 15,180 2008 Lexus GS 2008 GS450H Hybrid Pricing and Specs
GS300 Sport 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP SEQ AUTO $7,000 – 10,780 2008 Lexus GS 2008 GS300 Sport Pricing and Specs
GS460 Sport Luxury 4.6L, PULP, 8 SP SEQ AUTO $12,300 – 17,820 2008 Lexus GS 2008 GS460 Sport Luxury Pricing and Specs
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