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The Top Gear car review:Lexus GS
For:Much-improved design and abilities for Lexus’ fully hybrid 5-Series wannabe
Against:It still lacks the diesel buyers demand
300h 2.5 SE 4dr CVT
New engine, same problems. The GS may be smooth and refined, but the hybrid system is extremely average.
Not a bad car by any means, but out-pointed by fast, frugal diesels from the German manufacturers
Better than the old GS and a properly interesting choice. But for over £70k? You’d have to be barking
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 bought 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 was launched in 2013 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. And if even that’s somehow too subtle for you, rest easy: the mighty 5.0-litre GS-F has now arrived to make the BMW M5 look like a bit of a wallflower.
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.
It’s dynamically OK too. All cars get adaptive variable suspension and the F-Sport models go one better with Lexus Dynamic Handling: that’s dynamic rear steering and variable ratio steering. It’s good, much more distinct and (you guessed it) dynamic than before, but also blessed with fluency. Not a 5-Series or XF rival, but then little is.
The GS300h (pictured) uses the same drivetrain as the smaller IS300h - a 2.5-litre hybrid this time - and while it’s naturally no ball of fire, it’s not too lethargic and certainly a lot better than the tepid old GS250 V6. And if we were being unkind, we could call the GS-F tepid. It may have 471bhp, but the M5 has nearly 600, and with no turbo it needs revving banzai-hard, which is at odds with its surprisingly easy-going nature. It’s no M5, but rather nice all the same.
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 par with the German leader too.
Lexus has responded. It still doesn’t offer a diesel… but does now offer a hybrid that emits 104g/km (that’s less than the best 5-Series) and costs from £33,495. 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.