Hybrid saloon for execs


I WILL never be able to forget the older generation Lexus GS model. But this wasn’t because I had an experience driving the vehicle, rather, I was a misfortunate passenger. This is not to say that there was anything wrong with it – from my then, more youthful perspective, the GS was a cool car, oozing luxury and presence.

I was misfortunate because of a particularly precarious incident involving heavy rain, a highway, and typically unfavourable night-time conditions. My uncle – who was then, and still is – a motoring journalist, was behind the wheel of the Lexus. We neared closer to the off-ramp that would lead us home, but nature had other plans: due to the layers of water on the road, the car went out of control, and spun a few times on the highway, hitting the barrier and coming to a stop.

Thankfully, we all walked away from the accident unscathed – the same could not be said for the poor Lexus, however – it was written off. I doubt I was much of a reader then, but I’m sure the review my uncle penned must have been a pretty thorough one – since he was able to experience the car’s safety features first-hand.

Lexus seems to be developing a more green kind of image lately – it’s sort of become their characteristic feature. When you think of Mercedes-Benz, elegance, and class comes to mind. When it’s BMW, you think of rear-wheel drive and straight-six engines. When Lexus is mentioned, the word “hybrid” springs up in my head. When I look at models like their recently launched CT200h, it appears as though they’re trying to take this hybrid technology to the mainstream market – the CT could be on the list for those seeking a hatchback with a bit of style, performance and prestige – with other choices being products like the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and the Volkswagen Golf, and maybe even the Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

But back to the GS. The present iteration of Lexus’ luxury saloon is a rather attractive car. It looks graceful, poised, and it’s not too ostentatious – exuding its status as an executive product with subtlety, instead of shouting about it in a garish fashion. The GS450h is the Performance Hybrid model. It boasts a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that has a power output of 218-kilowatts and 368 Newton metres of torque. And it’s also got an electric motor. This motor, which is water and oil cooled, gives 275 Newton metres of torque and 147-kilowatts of power. This makes for a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h – electronically limited.

In terms of safety, the GS450h has 10 airbags. This includes airbags for the knees of the driver and front passenger – yes, you read right, knees. There’s also Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist.

The next generation of the Lexus GS was recently revealed at the  Pebble Beach Concoursd’Elegance. It features a sharper , more aggressive look. Those attending the Johanesburg Motor Show will be able to catch a peak at the Lexus, which is set to be introduced into the market in 2012.

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