Life in lap of luxury lacks edge
The Lexus GS450h offers the ultimate in power and comfort, but is a little too Stepford Wife-ish for Campbell Spray
IN the mad old days, you could number Lexus buyers each year in their thousands. In the days before that crazy time, I remember being so struck by the first Lexus I got to test that I sat for hours playing with its electric seats and even inviting a couple of friends to grab a bottle of wine and join me in the delight. It was more opulent than my living room and the stereo was far, far better.
Some things change, but not the feel of luxury in cars like the Lexus GS450 saloon which now sports a little 'h' at the end to denote its hybrid connection. Not that you would ever know it from any view inside or out as the boot is now a proper size (60 per cent bigger than the last model, which was one of its biggest let-downs) with the batteries nicely stacked away. However, the giveaway would be the silent running when the car is in EV mode. It is like a stealth vehicle creeping down the road.
The luxury and technical advancement is obvious even before you get to the car as it readies itself for your entry. The stitched leather trimmings, wondrous array of electric adjustments and excellent media and navigation control system -- which is stupendously easy to use even for an idiot like me -- are all top drawer, as is the V6 3.5-litre 345-bhp petrol engine which will take you to 100km in less than six seconds with awe-inspiring power.
It probably is too powerful especially when it is going up against other premium cars which are doing a lot with 2-litre diesel engines
It is quite a perfect executive car: Comfortable, powerful and with excellent build quality. It is also much cheaper than comparable models in the boom with a price reduction in six years of about €24,000 to its present entry-level price of cents under €60,000.
Unfortunately, much like a wife who would get up, make-up in place, make breakfast for you every day and, dressed to kill, hand you a cocktail before dinner when you come back from work, there is bit of Stepford unreality about the Lexus 450h. Where's the edge? The character?
There is, of course, an F-Sport version at around €73,000 but still the range comes across as one for mature comfort rather than making a statement of intent.
It is the fourth generation GS model to come here and it is bigger all round although fuel consumption has fallen by 22 per cent and CO2 emissions are now only 139g/km. But again some of its rivals are down to that level and below with their diesels without having the benefit a two-motor-full hybrid system.
The level of safety equipment on a Lexus has always been first class and the new GS450h is no exception. The company claims to have the "most technologically advanced active safety and driver assistance systems available on the market today".
Residuals will be good and you will get a great service from your Lexus dealer, who is out to really build up the marque again. There are a number of cars with more elan and excitement on the tarmac but there are very few that cosset you in such a fantastic way.