November 23, 2017

LEXUS GS300H

Although Lexus has long been synonymous with offering credible alternatives to German rivals, in both the luxury and executive classes, it hasn’t so far had anything in its ranks capable of competing tax-wise, with the likes of BMW’s 320d or Mercedes’ C220 CDI. Enter the new GS300h – a hybrid utilising the firm’s 2.5-litre four cylinder engine – which promises to offer greater frugality and lower running costs than the more powerful existing 3.5-litre GS450h hybrid.

The petrol and electric motor join efforts to deliver 220 bhp, while returning an official combined 57.6 mpg and emitting an impressively low 113g/km of CO2. Entry level SE cars (with smaller wheels) boast even cleaner figures of 60.1mpg and 109g/km of CO2

 

 

Exterior and interior styling for the new GS 300h mirror those of the more powerful GS 450h. The grade structure adds a new entry level SE trim to the established Luxury, F Sport and Premier specification levels.

Equipment levels are generous, with even SE cars coming equipped with 17-inch alloys, 10 airbags, electric steering wheel adjustment, 12-speaker sound system (incorporating DAB and DVD player), cruise control, parking sensors HID (xenon) headlamps, and electrically adjustable, heated front seats.

This Luxury trim equipped car (expected to account for 45 per cent of sales) adds leather upholstery, navigation, 18-inch alloys and a Blind Spot Monitor pack with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (informs drivers’ to vehicles approaching from either side when reversing out of a parking space). F Sport adds sporting features, including different seats and Adaptive Variable Suspension. Top-of-the-range Premier boasts further luxury, such as a 17-speaker Mark Levinson hi-fi system and colour head-up display.

Inside the GS300h is much the same as the more expensive 450h. Seats are large and supportive and offer extensive adjustability. The driving position is good and there are no complaints with the visibility either. Front occupants are cocooned by a high tech dashboard and the GS300h uses the same infotainment display as found in the 450h: comprising an extra-large multimedia display screen, controlled by the use of an oblong pad located by the gear selector. This can take a bit of getting used to.

Cabin accommodation space is generally on par with what’s expected of this class – with the exception of rear headroom and boot capacity – which has been reduced by the hybrid’s T-shaped battery pack.

Performance is respectably brisk enough: 0-62mph taking 9.2 seconds, although a 118 mph top speed is considerably less than that of 2.0 litre diesel rivals. The Lexus uses a CVT (continuously variable transmission), which with no actual gear changes, makes for smooth and linear progress. However, a heavy right foot causes the engine to rev higher and for longer than would be expected in a conventional automatic (although the engine itself is quiet).

There isn’t so much for the keener driver here to enjoy, as the steering and handling lack the precision of a BMW 3 or 5 series, for example. Far better to view the GS300h as an accomplished cruiser, as you’ll then be able to appreciate the car’s comfortable ride and impressive refinement levels. The hybrid system also allows low-speed, short-distance operation under silent electric power (activated by changing the ‘Drive Mode Select’ mode) – handy when crawling along in heavy traffic.

 

Verdict:

The Lexus GS300h is a comfortable and luxurious, yet economical executive cruiser. It proves to be a compelling company car alternative to other manufacturers’ usual 2.0 litre diesel-powered offerings.

 

Tech spec:

Lexus GS300h Luxury
List price: £36,495
Engine: 2.5-litre 4cyl plus electric motor
Power: 220bhp
Transmission: CVT auto, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Top speed: 118mph
Economy: 57.6mpg
CO2: 113g/km
VED (from second year) £30

 

 

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