Lexus GS450h 3.5 V6 SE

Does saloon deliver on promise of its technology?

You don’t expect to find an executive car in an eco test, but the Lexus GS450h is one of the pioneers of hybrid technology. While the big saloon doesn’t offer the kind of real-world fuel economy benefits many buyers may anticipate – after all, it’s pitched as a car with V8 performance and V6 efficiency – its claimed CO2 emissions are tough to beat.

The BMW 5-Series rival is very different to any of the other contenders, and has several design cues to set it apart from conventional Lexus cars. Along with the ‘h’ badge on the boot, the GS gets a hybrid tag on the side sills, plus unique alloys.

Inside, there are as many energy-measuring information systems as in the Toyota Prius. Use the central screen to monitor your fuel economy, and whether you’re running on petrol, electricity or both, congestion-clogged journeys fly by.

On the road, few compromises are demanded of the driver. It’s amazingly refined at all speeds, but the whisper-quiet electric-powered motion in town adds to the appeal. Use a light touch on the throttle and it’s possible to keep the petrol unit turned off as you creep silently along in traffic.

The GS also has a party trick: both petrol and electric power can work together to deliver an impressive 0-60mph sprint time of 5.9 seconds.

So can the Lexus really save you money? The firm claims combined economy of 35.8mpg, but in our tests the hybrid managed only 26.7mpg. You’ll get better returns in town, while London drivers still travel congestion charge free under current rules. Fleet users can also benefit by choosing this over powerful petrol rivals.

The main problem the GS faces is its diesel rivals. They can’t match its pace, but produce similar emissions and much better economy.

Details

Price: Price: £43,150Model tested: GS450h 3.5 V6 SE

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