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2013 Lexus GS 450h: First Drive

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Ever since Lexus launched the RX 400h hybrid SUV in 2005, gasoline-electric hybrids have been an integral part of the Lexus lineup.

Cleverly combining performance, luxury and economy, they allow luxury buyers to avoid the compromises that might otherwise be associated with making a luxury vehicle more fuel efficient--like sacrificing power or prestige.

The 2013 Lexus GS 450h is upon us, offering more power and better economy than ever. GreenCarReports was invited to Germany and Austria to test the new model.

'L Finesse'

The 2013 Lexus GS 450h continues Lexus' new 'L Finesse' design language, first seen on the smaller CT 200h and subsequently appearing on the rest of the Lexus range.

As a result, the GS is now a much sharper looking car than its predecessor, looking more compact despite the slight increase in dimensions. It's both more aerodynamic--with a drag coefficient of 0.27, to improve stability and economy--and more aggressive.

Our favorite description of the change in styling from old GS to new came from GS Chief Engineer Yoshihiko Kanamori, who described that "on the freeway in the old car, I had to flash my lights to warn other cars I was approaching... in the new car, they simply move out of my way..."

Comfort

In a sector that includes the Mercedes-Benz E Class, BMW 5-Series, Jaguar XF and Infiniti M Hybrid among others, levels of comfort and equipment are of high priority.

The GS doesn't disappoint, with most trim grades offering seemingly endless adjustment in the seat and steering column, leather trim and automatic transmission as standard, and the largest infotainment screen currently fitted to a production car.

The new interior is far more inviting than that of the old GS, and in our car's F Sport trim the deep red leather gave off just the right sporting ambience. A standard head-up-display ensures you rarely need to take your eyes off the road--though shorter drivers will find the bottom of the projection slightly obscured if they choose a low seating position.

Driving

In the F Sport trim of our test car, the GS 450h gains four-wheel steering to improve steering lock at low speeds and stability at higher ones. Combined with a variable-ratio steering rack and uprated suspension, it makes the GS feel much more nimble than its size suggests This is certainly a hybrid you can have a lot of fun with.

It's a hybrid that won't have much trouble at higher speeds either. Combined output of the 3.5-liter V-6 engine and hybrid system is 341 hp. It takes only 5.9 seconds to reach 60mph from rest, and will hit an artificially-limited 155 mph on a de-restricted road--of which there are several in Germany.


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