2013 Lexus GS 450h First Drive. [Photos: Antony Ingram]Enlarge Photo
At a more sedate pace, it displays all the usual hybrid benefits--low cabin noise, plenty of electrically-assisted torque, and frequent electric running.
That electric running does wonders for fuel efficiency at lower speeds, just as it does on a Prius.
Official EPA figures are 29 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 31 mpg combined. Driving through the pretty, north-Alpine towns of Austria with speeds varying between 30 mph and 60 mph, we managed an average of 36.7 mpg with very little effort. Perhaps more impressively, that average also included some time in Sport mode, negotiating tricky Alpine hairpins and twisty, mountain-hugging curves.
On the Autobahn, the on-board display showed as much as 47 mpg in 50 mph traffic, to nearer 25 mpg at 90 mph. As with most hybrids, the GS 450h is actually at its best on the highway in traffic, when frequent slowing down allows the engine to turn off, saving gas. At the end of our hundred mile drive from Kitzbühel in Austria to Munich airport in Germany, we'd achieved a trip average of 34 mpg.
So has Lexus avoided compromises in making the new GS 450h? Pretty much, we'd say. It's not only cheaper than much of its hybrid competition in the sector--such as the new BMW ActiveHybrid 5 we tested recently, which at $61,845 is around $3,000 more expensive than the Lexus--but also potentially more economical and equally quick.
It's also better to drive than its predecessor. It's not as fun to drive as a Jaguar XF, but it's not far off, and in real-world driving has the economy to beat even the Europe-only diesel models we've driven.
Want the benefits of hybrid technology but none of the usual drawbacks? You could do a lot worse than the Lexus GS 450h.
Lexus provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-person drive report.