Long-term tests

Lexus GS

While we weren’t convinced by our Lexus GS initially, a solid 12 months’ service has won us over to the idea of running a hybrid

  • Drivetrain: hybrid provides effortless blend of refinement and cruising performance.Economy: improving returns have been a real bonus at the pumps – although we would still like a bit more than 32mpg! Equipment: some of the car’s hi-tech kit has been a genuine benefit. Systems such as the Bluetooth telephone connection are easy to use and helpful.
  • Equipment: but we can’t say the same for all the innovations. For example, the voice-activated controls don’t work consistently, so we’ve barely touched them.Steering: although the GS’s handling is good, and there’s plenty of grip, better control through the wheel and more feedback would be welcome.Valve caps: while the metal caps on the tyres look great, they have proved impractical – as they keep dropping off!

A year is a considerable time in the life of an Auto Express long-termer – road tests, photoshoots, features and long-distance drives put each of our cars through a unique series of tests that will expose the smallest weaknesses in a moment.

But the past 12 months have seen the kind of radical changes that have put both the Lexus GS450h and me through our paces like nothing else.

A new, longer commute, a new baby and even a change in the Highway Code with relation to the use of mobile phones... they all mean that the demands placed on the hybrid luxury model are very different to those it endured when it joined the fleet last July.

The good news is that it’s met the challenge admirably. Although we originally criticised the car for its cramped boot, I have since found that with careful packing it can take the prams, changing bags and spare clothes that quickly become part and parcel of every journey out with a small child.

And just to prove that you can do your bit for the environment with a large vehicle such as this, the Lexus’ fuel economy has improved, too. The car regularly returns 32mpg – a real step up from the original 28mpg we recorded when it was new.

The time I have spent on my long daily trip into central London has also given me the opportunity to really get to know some of the GS’s hi-tech toys – and the long standard kit tally means there are plenty of them. The reversing camera is brilliant, as is the Bluetooth phone system, although I have to admit to rarely using the voice-activated control for devices such as the stereo or satellite navigation.

Clearly, I am not the only person who loves the Lexus. Recently, someone attempted to strip the badge off the back of the car. The bad news for them – and me – was that it snapped off mid-peel.

That aside, there’s nothing to report. The GS is growing old gracefully, there has been no repeat of the ECU problems we encountered in our last update, while a good clean leaves the thick paintwork shining like new. My only regret is that the time on our loan is nearly up… And I haven’t yet worked out if there is a replacement that can match its extensive abilities.

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