Saturday 20 January 2018

Happiness is just a click away -- thanks to idiot-proof controls

LEXUSGS450H
LEXUSGS450H

Yes, this is a wonderful concoction of technology and innovation, but after a while you take that for granted. Believe me, that is what happens. The carmakers exhaust themselves devising all sorts of new adjuncts to the seven wonders of the combustion engine or the hybrid or whatever.

We stay eyes-wide-open for a respectful period and act like children in a sweet shop in a flurry of discovery. And then we settle down to drive what are, in the main, extraordinarily good cars. We get so used to them that we take them for granted.

But bear with me, because this car has something you will never take for granted. I certainly won't.

I want you to remember where you read this first. It has the best interactive controls system, by a billion miles, of anything I have ever driven.

Anything you want: radio, sat nav, volume, fuel consumption . . .

You name it, and all you have to do is click. It's all there and can be accessed with the simplest, most logical, easiest and most understandable of moves.

The graphics are wonderful, making it (in my case) idiot-proof. You click. It works. Well done, Lexus. What an absolutely brilliant device.

You may have equal brilliance going on under the bonnet, and throughout the chassis and in the electrics, but this is where I (and you, dear reader) interact with a car every day.

It did me good -- it really did -- to see the painstaking thought and logic they put into this. Now let's see the others catch up. They've got their work cut out.

You see, for me sometimes, a brilliant car can be soured by an overly-fussy display/interface. In this case it was the opposite, and I had a hell of a time in the GS450h.

This is a hybrid, which on the face of it means it is supposed to save you fuel. It does, but while it sets about mixing all the eco-greenie things it also puts that technology to use to boost performance.

This thing rocks. For a big luxury car it takes off like a rocket and will have you in trouble with the speed detectors in no time if you're not careful. I was.

My big criticism of it was that on my long journeys the engine was constantly occupied. Which sort of goes against the concept of what it is supposed to be about -- reducing the amount of time the engine is burning fossil fuel and increasing the level of battery and electric motor input. It was better in the city, but . . . it is a car for the long journey.

Again, for a big car, it handled so well. And there was plenty of room, a fine boot and a range of drive options (ECO, NORMAL, SPORT S and SPORT S+) as well as manual paddle shift override.

The combined power of all its hybrid parts -- particularly the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and electric motor (the generator and nickel-metal hydride battery are also part of the hybrid orchestra) -- means you have 345bhp on tap. That's a lot of muscle.

This GS450h is the first with the new Lexus look, most notably around the bonnet and grille.

Yes, it looks good. And drives well. But mention GS450h to me and I'll salivate at how easy its interactive screen made my life behind the wheel.

ecunningham@independent.ie

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