Lexus GS vs rivals

24 Jul, 2012 9:00am

We see if the hybrid Lexus GS can trump diesel rivals in the company car park

You have to be brave to go your own way in the regimented corporate world. Even though diesel power dominates company car parks up and down the land, Lexus believes a petrol-electric hybrid is a better bet for delivering a winning blend of economy and performance. The manufacturer pioneered the concept back in 2006 with the first-generation GS 450h, and today nearly every model in the Lexus range features a hybrid option.

But how will the flagship version of the all-new GS fare against our current executive car champ, the BMW 5 Series? Not to mention the new bi-turbo version of the Audi A6 3.0-litre TDI, which has the power to rival the mighty BMW 535d and comes with the excellent quattro all-wheel-drive transmission.

All three cars promise to mix scintillating performance, decent economy, business class comfort and superb refinement. But which will be the biggest hit in the boardroom?

Verdict

So can Lexus finally end German domination of the executive car class? The new GS 450h is more efficient and better to drive than the car it replaces and, as you’d expect, build quality is excellent. Plus, it has the lowest emissions in this test, so is the cheapest company car.

Yet while low tax bills are a big plus point, it looks dated inside and out, and doesn’t handle or ride as well as its rivals. Fans of the previous GS 450h will find lots to like about the new car, but it hasn’t done enough to convince buyers of traditional diesel models to take the plunge. As a result, it finishes third in this test.

Picking a winner is far tougher. The BMW and Audi have stonking diesel engines that offer sensational performance and superb refinement. The A6 is sharper to drive, but the 5 Series is a bit faster. Like many decisions, this one comes down to money: cheaper tax, lower emissions, stronger residuals and pre-paid servicing ensure an extremely narrow victory for the 535d.

Winner: BMW 535d ★★★★

Blending effortless performance with relaxed refinement and peerless comfort, the superb 535d is difficult to fault. It has a first-class cabin, plenty of passenger space and a decent boot. Most crucially, it will cost a higher-band earner around £600 a year less in company car tax than the Audi. Options are pricey, though.

2nd: Audi A6 BiTDI ★★★★

The new BiTDI engine gives the A6 the punch to rival the mighty 535d, while quattro traction and superb body control mean it lacks nothing dynamically. The ride is a fraction firmer than the BMW’s, but the cabin is wonderful and it has the biggest boot. However, the BMW has better residuals and is a cheaper company car option.

3rd: Lexus GS 450h ★★★

Lexus is committed to a hybrid future, but the new GS 450h falls short of the best diesels in the executive class. Although performance is strong, the unresolved ride and vague handling disappoint, as do the dated cabin and bland looks. Low emissions and generous kit are plus points.

Disqus - noscript

It is fascinating that the same cars compared by a US magazine had the reverse results...maybe it's just a question of personal taste, especially with 'looks'. As an owner of a Lexus and a German premium brand model, I have to say the Lexus has been the far more reliable car, and the service at the dealer is infinitely superior.

I think the Lexus is not only a striking good looking car, it's quality is superb. Not to mention the perfect match of petrol-engine and hybrid technology.
The A6 is a very bland looking car, the same for the BMW, nothing special, boring cars.
The Lexus should be in first position compared with these German rivals.

The USA test likely had the petrol BMW & Audi in their test.
Also, you have to remember the US buyers look at luxury as a plush and floaty ride (aka: not envolving). Exactly what Lexus provides and why Lexus doesn't sell well in Europe.

What a poorly constructed review; comparing heavily optioned sport versions of the German saloons (M sport and S line respectively) to the base version of the hybrid Lexus (i.e. without the equivalent adaptive chassis tricks available on the Premier and F-Sport) and then largely basing the review on body control/drive and subjective opinions of styling. All the while such real world issues as equipment (Xenon's and sat nav are optional on a 50k 535d lol), customer satisfaction and dealer service were quickly skimmed over.

Having driven the BMW (I have not driven an Audi in years and don't plan to any time soon), the Lexus compares pretty favourably; quieter, better riding (with the equivalent adaptive chassis options of the Premier), with more than enough body control to trouble the best, it's the first hybrid that truly challenges the diesel equivalents in this segment.

In addition, real world economy has shamed BMW's hybrid offering (see German mags for less biased opinion than that offered here), indicating the latest BMW-Toyota group collaboration was more than a little driven by BMW's desire to advance in this area. Luckily the German company has realised far faster than British journalists that, with rising emissions requirements (think Euro 6), the cost and complexity of diesel is soon to surpass hybrids and with it the need to develop an alternative strategy is growing paramount.

What a poorly constructed review; comparing heavily optioned sport versions of the German saloons (M sport and S line respectively) to the base version of the hybrid Lexus (i.e. without the equivalent adaptive chassis tricks available on the Premier and F-Sport) and then largely basing the review on body control/drive and subjective opinions of styling. All the while such real world issues as equipment (Xenon's and sat nav are optional on a 50k 535d lol), customer satisfaction and dealer service were quickly skimmed over.

Having driven the BMW (I have not driven an Audi in years and don't plan to any time soon), the Lexus compares pretty favourably; quieter, better riding (with the equivalent adaptive chassis options of the Premier), with more than enough body control to trouble the best, it's the first hybrid that truly challenges the diesel equivalents in this segment.

In addition, real world economy has shamed BMW's hybrid offering (see German mags for less biased opinion than that offered here), indicating the latest BMW-Toyota group collaboration was more than a little driven by BMW's desire to advance in this area. Luckily the German company has realised far faster than British journalists that, with rising emissions requirements (think Euro 6), the cost and complexity of diesel is soon to surpass hybrids and with it the need to develop an alternative strategy is growing paramount.

AE really aren't fans of Lexus cars are they? "it looks dated inside and out" seriously? Must be the 12.3-inch high-resolution split-screen multimedia display that is so old fashioned.

Another AE road test and BMW comes first, Lexus last. Lexus has no hope. I mean it's not made in Europe, old chap. It hasn't got heritage. It hasn't got a propeller roundel. It's just a jolly nice car - but that counts for nought.

Big surprise. A german car wins an Auto Express comparison test. Ho hum, business as usual, nothing to see here.

Same with Toyota. The facelift Avensis is at least as distinctive as the Passat but was slated as 'boring'.

Basically, if it isn't German, AE wont give it a favourable writeup.

sorry to say but this review is so bad. in terms of power, that 450h is much faster it take over than any of it's competition here, how about 4.1 sec 80-120KM/h? that's Audi R8 figures!. yes the lexus is less better in dynamic but not far behind but in normal use it's much more quiet it's has a great real world fuel economy (12.2 km/l), it has the best controls for the main screen and it's very comfy.

and you are a bullshit

I react to the statement that "it looks dated inside and out". As a person actively considering buying one of these three cars, it is the Lexus that stands out. The newest 5 series and A6 so look similar to the previous generations that many people I've discussed the issue with didn't even know that these are new models and some of them are proud owners of those makes. Regarding the interior, the BMW has changed little and has a lot of buttons and knobs. I personally prefer the large, integrated screen on the Lexus to the pop-up on the Audi.

Having also visited the showrooms of all three brands to take a look at these cars I got the impression that the Audi and BMW sales people would be doing me a favor by letting me wait months to take delivery of one of their heavily optioned cars. The Lexus guy was attentive to my needs and enthusiatic about his product. I've never heard a negative word from friends who own a Lexus (all in America) but have heard a lot of negative things from owners of A's and B's.

One more factor that tilts this heavily in Lexus' favor is that in my city, Oslo, they're seriously considering banning diesel cars when air quality gets bad.

What a poor review. The testers are absent minded and should've fired. The new Gs looks more advance inside and outside and this test should of used the f sport variant!!! I have a 2013 Gs fsport and it handles and rides much better than my boring and balnd 2011 BMW 535 xdrive that i traded in. The lexus gets more tech inside and is advance. The looks get a lot of stares and get compliments. This is a poor biased review. Ignore what these testers did
.

Wow, this review is a pure joke.
Praising the rattling/vibrating diesels for being "refined" while dismissing the ultra-refined hybrid for being boring? Yeah, right!

I think the Lexus is ugly really.

AEX 1334
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