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The Top Gear car review: Lexus GS

£31,440£55,655
5/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Much-improved design and abilities for Lexus’ fully hybrid 5-Series wannabe

Against: 

It still lacks the diesel buyers demand: will the GS300h do instead?
If you can live without diesel, this is a smart A6 alternative.

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Our choice

Lexus

300h 2.5 SE 4dr CVT

£31,440
N/A
60mpg
9.20s
223bhp
109g/km

What we say: 

Latest standout Lexus GS is closer than ever to the class leaders - but the lack of diesel is puzzling

What is it?

Ever considered a Lexus? Probably. Then you brought a BMW or Audi. Enough of that, the firm has decided – and, proving it wants to get serious is the latest GS, which spearheads a spangly new direction for the premium brand that’s promised plenty for two decades but never quite delivered.

There’s no missing the GS, which is designed to go head-to-head with the Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series. The sporty F-Sport trim’s front bumper is one of the most aggressive ever seen on a production car, giving a dynamic appearance like no Lexus before it. Other variants are almost as standout too. With a new platform, all-new interior and revised drivetrain, Lexus reckons the GS has finally come of age.

Driving

Once again, Lexus is using hybrid power as the key draw of the GS range. The GS 450h tops the range and uses a new version of the Lexus Hybrid Drive. This mates a 3.5-litre Atkinson Cycle V6 petrol to an electric motor to give 338bhp. It can run in electric mode alone, or reach 62mph from rest in 5.9 seconds if you’re feeling less green.

So, it’s rapid. The old one was too, though. But now, it’s distinctly more pleasing dynamically, too. All cars get adaptive variable suspension and the best-looking F-Sport models go one better with Lexus Dynamic Handling: that’s dynamic rear steering and variableratio steering. It’s good, much more distinct and (you guessed it) dynamic than before, but also blessed with fluency.

We’re pleased the GS 450h has been joined by a cheaper fourcylinder hybrid, too. We’re yet to drive the GS 300h but it’s hard to see how it could be worse than the meek GS 250 it replaces…

On the inside

The interior is more European than before, proving thoughtful and sober where the old car was tacky and garish. It’s dominated by a huge 12.3in screen that’s more intuitive to use than on some other Lexus, and the material quality throughout is superb. Needless to say, being a Lexus, there is a veritable bounty of equipment as standard. There are features included here you never even knew existed. It’s also immaculately well built, with the sort of quality you associate with Audi - only now, the design is on a part with the German leader too.

Owning

Lexus has responded. It still doesn’t offer a diesel… but does now offer a hybrid that emits 109g/km (that’s 10g/km less than the best 5-Series) and costs from £31,495. A combination that means it has a greater chance of making headway in a class dominated by diesels. You no longer have to break the bank to own something different. But better? Hmm.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
450h 3.5 F-Sport 4dr CVT
5.9s 145g/km 45.6 340 £51,305
The cheapest
300h 2.5 SE 4dr CVT
9.2s 109g/km 60.1 223 £31,440
The greenest
300h 2.5 SE 4dr CVT
9.2s 109g/km 60.1 223 £31,440

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

6/10

Citroen DS5

n/a
Keen on hybrid and want something that's different to the premium car norm? Then how about a Citroen DS5?