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Lexus GS 450h 3.5 Premier road test

  • Smooth drive especially from the electric motors
  • Luxury cabin and high spec as standard on the Premier
  • Tank range is limited despite claimed 46.5mpg

This is the top-of-the-range Lexus GS450h Premier, the ultimate luxury version of the mid-sized executive saloon from the Japanese company.

The Premier version is only available on the GS 450h - which has a 3.5-litre petrol engine and electric motors. If you want the cheaper, entry level 2.5-litre petrol engine (GS 250) then you need to choose the SE, Luxury or F-Sport trim.

The 450h uses a combination of petrol 3.5-litre V6 and electric motors to reduce emissions (145g/km CO2), with the simple idea being you have power out on the open road and save on fuel and emissions around town thanks to the electric motors. Top speed is 155mph and the 0-62mph sprint takes 5.9 seconds – so it’s pretty quick.

The good news for company car drivers is that CO2 emissions of 141g/km plonk the GS into the 19% BIK band. So a 40% tax payer can have this kind of performance for £322 a month. But is it worth the company car tax?

Certainly the GS feels very at home cruising on motorways thanks to quiet running and a sumptuous interior that provides a luxurious but not soporific driving experience. You feel very in control without having to exert any major effort as you dispatch a journey with ease.

The only eyebrow-raising moment is when you really stand on the loud pedal and you hear the petrol engine and a small amount of vibration cuts through to the cabin.

The CVT transmission is very smooth so you get the sensation of being wafted along when accelerating, not least because there are no noticeable step changes in power and you never hear the sound of the next gear being engaged. It all adds to a very serene sensation of effortless progress.

In town at slow speed the electric motors are near silent in operation so great for stealth driving but not good for pedestrians not paying full attention when crossing the road. You also have to be patient with the electric motors, as press too hard down on the throttle and the main petrol engine cuts in all too easily.

Despite the hybrid technology to help maximise fuel efficiency actual tank range is not that impressive. Theoretically, the tank range should be about 650 miles if the claimed fuel figures (45.6mpg) are to be believed.

Of course, out on the open road it will always be less but a mix of spirited driving, urban traffic crawl and twisting back lanes resulted in a tank of fuel lasting just over 430 miles – closer to 35mpg.

In terms of kit the GS is well specced as standard – typical of Lexus models. The Premier version is the most luxurious of the GS trims so the standard kit list gets even longer. It includes such frippery as rear electric sun blinds (with manual rear passenger blinds too), heated and ventilated front seats, word trim, push button start and 17-speaker sound system.

In fact the options list is a short one largely restricted to metallic paint choice, sunroof and Lexus’ nattly named ‘Adaptive Cruise Control’ and ‘Pre-Collision System’. The adaptive bit refers to the use of radar to automatically maintain a safe distance to the car in front when the cruise control is engaged.

The Pre-Collision set-up warns if a crash is imminent and sets the brakes up to deliver maximum braking force. If the crash is unavoidable the car applies the brakes and tightens the seat belts for maximum protection. 

The GS comes with a lot of safety kit as standard so whether the £3350 option cost is worth paying (you get the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist included) is a personal choice.

Lexus GS 450 saloon interior

Lexus GS 450 h Premier trim is highly specced as standard

Lexus GS saloon 450 h exterior

Premier trim version is only available with the hybrid drive system

Also consider:

BMW 5-Series

Default choice for the company executive and for good reason. Frugal and very efficient engines married to great handling chassis to deliver a real driver’s car.

Infiniti M

The Japanese-built challenge to Lexus and aiming for the same up-market, discerning buyer who is looking for something different. Both hybrid and diesel versions are available.

Jaguar XF

British-built contender with a design that stands out. Packs some neat features such as the alloy dial drive selector that rises out of the central dash.