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Lexus GS 450h F Sport.

Lexus has made some improvements in terms of the engineering of the GS. With the help of higher rigidity glass, new adhesives, and a re-engineered A-pillar section, the GS is now more agile and precise than ever. Not that the 2012-2013 model lacked in driving enjoyment.

Around the bends the GS 450h F Sport is a real treat to pilot. It feels confident and very planted at all times, with the sports suspension soaking up mid-corner bumps perhaps better than any other large eco-focused sedan on sale. It really is a joy to stream down a mountain route.

The variable gear-ratio electric power steering is very pure and provides direct feedback. It is an electric system but you wouldn’t know it after a short drive. Through your hands it loads up in tighter corners and when under high g-force, like a proper sports sedan, and then becomes easy and relaxing out on the freeway. The rear-wheel steering system helps it glide around corners too. It remains a great driver’s car in that sense.

As for the hybrid system, Lexus doesn’t currently offer a diesel luxury sedan like all of its rivals. Instead, the Japanese brand concentrates and perhaps is the leader of hybrid technology in this domain. We’re still not convinced that hybrids are as economical in practical terms though.

During our week with this car we averaged around 8.7L/100km, which included a mix of driving conditions and a drive to Newcastle and back (about 500km round trip) on the freeway. It seems the electric motors are great for bringing the GS up to 40km/h or so, just off the mark, but from there the big and otherwise thirsty V6 engine churns away pretty much like a normal petrol sedan.

The combined output of both the V6 and electric motor is rated at 254kW. That’s a strong figure for this class, making it one of the more powerful higher-spec models. Power efficiency is also extremely high, offering 40.3kW per official L/100km. Flat out off the mark we timed 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds. We thought it was going to be a bit quicker due to the power output, but the kerb weight of 1910kg does come with consequences.

With a continuously variable transmission, the torque spread is quite wide, or at least it feels wide. This means you only need to lean on the throttle in order to overtake or jump up to highway speeds. Unfortunately, it also means you have to listen to the whirring and forever-hunting soundtrack of the V6 engine as the CVT constantly tries to stay in the rev range sweet spot.

Published: Thursday, August 20, 2015

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