We get behind the wheel of the new Lexus GS F Sport – does the luxury hybrid deliver?
Compared to the standard GS, the F Sport is a much racier saloon, with better handling. It doesn’t go any faster than the normal car, but it does a lot more with what it has. Lexus has thrown the kitchen sink at the chassis and the way the car corners shows it has worked. But it feels artificial and is likely to cost around £74,000 when it arrives next summer. That’s as expensive as a proper supersaloon like the BMW M5. The new Lexus GS 450h is a technical marvel, but there’s no avoiding its 1,820kg kerbweight, which makes it more of a cruiser than a sports saloon.
To spice things up, Lexus has now developed a range of modifications, including retuned springs and dampers for the adaptive suspension, larger front brakes and a dynamic handling system.
The latter comprises rear-wheel steering and a variable-ratio steering rack. At speeds below 50mph, the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions, while above 50mph, they can turn in the same direction to aid stability.
We tested the standard model and the F Sport package back-to-back, and the difference was profound. Where the normal car is fast but uninspiring, the F Sport is agile. Body roll is contained and the rear-wheel steering ensures the car dives quickly into corners. The steering is quicker and more communicative, while the uprated brakes are powerful.
The new system feels strange at first – with the steering being managed by computers, you wonder if what you’re feeling is really there or being artificially generated, but you get used to it.
Factor in the rapid yet frugal 338bhp V6 hybrid engine, and this Lexus is an interesting alternative to the mainstream.
* Price: £74,000 (est)
* Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 338bhp
* Transmission: Six-speed CVT, rear-wheel drive
* 0-60mph: 5.9 seconds
* Top speed: 155mph
* Economy: 47.8mpg
* CO2: 137g/km
* Equipment: Parking camera, cruise and climate control, display screen, 19-inch alloys, Bluetooth, leather
* On sale: Summer 2012