2014 Lexus GS450h | road test

Posted on Feb 3, 2014 by
2014 Lexus GS450h
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  • Rated 4.5 stars
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  • 450h
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  • Last modified: January 7, 2015
  • Exterior
    Editor: 90%
  • Interior
    Editor: 90%
  • Quality
    Editor: 95%
  • Features
    Editor: 95%
  • Performance
    Editor: 95%
  • Value for money
    Editor: 85%

Review Summary:

Good looking, powerful and practical. The 2014 GS450h surely has what it takes to change perceptions about what a hybrid is capable of.

Pros

Quality of materials used in the interior is simply brilliant
Performance is mind blowing for a hybrid car
Audio quality produced by the Mark Levinson sound system

Cons

Lack of gizmos to keep the rear seat passengers entertained
Pointless Night View camera

Introduction and Summary

Hybrids are believed to be aesthetically revolting, ridiculously impractical and ludicrously priced. And in a country like the U.A.E. where fuel is cheaper than milk, they don’t exactly fit in with the power hungry, 98 Octane addicted monsters that roam our streets. However, the 2014 Lexus GS450h F Sport that we tested over the weekend, may just be able to change that.

2014 Lexus GS450h front

With distinctive LED’s bordering the headlamps; an F Sport kit that welcomes aggressively styled and lowered bumpers, a rear diffuser, split five spoke Dark Graphite 19” wheels, along with a scattering of F Sport badges and a blue outer shadow to the Lexus emblems; the 2014 Lexus GS450h F Sport is a hybrid, and an absolutely stunning one!

Comfort and Practicality

With carpets that are nearly as soft as marshmallows; a centre armrest that is softer than a few pillows I’ve come across, and leather adorning nearly everything apart from the various buttons, knobs and levers, the interior definitely looks premium, and feels it too.

2014 Lexus GS450h interior

The extremely supportive 16 way power adjustable front seats that you melt into, are covered in tan leather and provide a pleasant contrast to the black roof liner. Contrasted stitching, striated aluminium trim, piano black inserts, brushed aluminium and ample amounts of leather, unite to give birth to the dashboard of the 2014 Lexus GS450h.

2014 Lexus GS450h rear + side

On the other hand, rear seat passengers aren’t the most comfortable as with a wheelbase of 2,850 mm (which is 118 mm less than that of the BMW 5-Series), leg space is significantly compromised. To make matters worse, there aren’t a whole lot of gizmos to keep the backbenchers entertained, apart from a light, that is. Additionally, due to the large battery linked the hybrid system being placed behind the rear seat, boot space is restricted and only measures in at 374 litres.

Features

In the centre of the dashboard, the 2014 Lexus GS450h houses a 12.3 inch infotainment system that is controlled through a gimmicky and rather complicated mouse-like device located beside the perforated leather wrapped gear shifter. A simple tap of the media button though, and the 835 watts, 17 speaker Mark Levinson audio system comes to life. Delivering quality that was once reserved for six figure home audio systems, the  sound system is sure to keep audiophiles grinning.

2014 Lexus GS450h audio system

In terms of driving aids, the GS is packed to the brim. With an adaptive cruise control system that makes highway driving a breeze; a blind spot monitoring system that continually ensures both lanes on either side are clear of obstructions, and an Auto Hold system that aids when stuck in traffic, the GS really does make driving easier. But that’s not all the Japanese beauty is equipped with. The Auto High Beam Headlights reduce driver involvement further by automatically switching onto high beams when in a poorly lit area, and revet to dipped beams when it senses another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. Finally, the Head Up Display that projects the travelling speed and multimedia information right onto the windscreen is by far the neatest of the bunch, as it ensures the driver’s concentration is fixed on the road ahead.

2014 Lexus GS450h driver aids

However, not all is perfect, particularly with the Night View system that projects a slightly magnified view of what the driver can already see ahead. Unlike its German rivals, the Night View System isn’t linked to a thermal camera, and so shows a simple black and white view of the road ahead. Quite frankly, the system is as silly as it sounds, because the full LED headlights illuminate significantly more than the camera can ever see.

Performance, Ride and Handling

Before dwelling into the nitty gritty performance figures, I’d like to start by explaining how the full hybrid system in the 2014 Lexus GS operates. When travelling at speeds below 40 km/h, the GS450h is powered by the electric motor alone – producing no emissions and using absolutely no fuel. However, when travelling in speeds excess of 40 km/h, the petrol engine kicks in and takes over while the electric motor works as its side kick to provide extra power. But the exciting bit is how the energy is recycled to charge the hybrid battery placed in the boot. Instead of using the brake pads, the hybrid system uses the electric motor where possible to brake and converts the energy created to charge the battery. The entire system works seamlessly and provides more power while being more fuel efficient.

2014 Lexus GS450h engine

Below the sloping hood resides a 3.5 litre V6 engine that produces 338 horsepower along with the electric motor and propels the 1.9 tonne GS from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 5.8 seconds, before continuing to its electronically limited 250 km/h top speed. To match its go, the 13 inch brakes with two piece rotors do a wonderful job of bringing the GS450h to a halt when travelling at highway speeds.

2014 Lexus GS450h drive mode selector

A flick of the rotary knob on the centre console and the GS adapts its suspension, steering and engine response accordingly to whether Eco, Normal, Sport or Sport+ driving modes are selected. Developed by the same team behind the fantastic Lexus LFA, the adaptive suspension on the 2014 Lexus GS450h produces significant and noticeable changes in the suspension setup that allow the GS to balance on its door handles in Sport+ or glide over speed breakers in Normal mode.

2014 Lexus GS450h side skirts

A CVT transmission in the motoring industry, is a lot like the black sheep of a family. It nearly instantly ruins the chances of a car being liked due to the annoying drone, questionable fuel savings, and is known for sucking every drop of joy out of driving. However, the ECVT fitted in the GS450h is mighty impressive. With shift points mimicking an 8 speed transmission and negligible amounts of drone when cruising at highway speeds, the ECVT in the GS is one that even someone who hates the dreaded CVT’s will be able to live with.

Cost and Verdict

The 2014 Lexus GS450h delivers on its promise. Averaging 8 litres/100km over five days, yet delivering supreme amounts of driving enjoyment when the aluminium pedal is shoved deep into the footwell, the GS really does change perceptions about . Not only is the GS450h stunning, powerful and practical, but with no competitors from Germany, or Japan (Nissan’s luxury wing), the Lexus GS450h is a well deserved leader in a soon to be over populated market.

2014 Lexus GS450h front - 2

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