JAPANESE premium car manufacturer Lexus has become a bigger threat to their three German rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes following the launch of the updated GS 300h which now has the styling that will create a much bigger impact in this top market sector and should increase sales writes Bryan Longworth.
.The petrol-electric hybrid GS 300h has always been an excellent premium car facing strong competition from the German manufacturers especially the BMW 5 Series but now it has become much more competitive thanks to the facelift specifically the new spindle grille up front along with LED headlights.
For this latest version of the spindle grille has provided the GS300h with an aggressive and more dynamic frontal appearance that will look really good in showrooms and on the road when it is compared with those German rivals whose standard equipment is also much less impressive.
I was surprised to discover that my test car the Lexus GS 300h Executive Edition at £33,495 was the entry level model because with its leather clad luxurious interior it seemed more like one of the top models.
With its 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine and electric motor CO2 emissions of 104g/km and 15% Benefit in Kind rating this model will have particular appeal to the business driver along with its combined fuel consumption of 64.2mpg which in real world terms will still be quite impressive for a big four door saloon.
Leading feature in the standard kit is the Lexus Safety System+ which includes pre crash safety with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, sway warning, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam plus other features such as heated and electrically controlled front seats....not bad for an entry model! With a top speed of 119mph and zero to 62mph time of nine seconds the rear wheel drive GS with CVT automatic transmission was a deceptively fast car and it had impressive handling and road holding on my favourite winding and hilly Peak District roads.
The car can be driven for short distances in all electric mode but for most of the driving it was a combination of the petrol engine and electric motor which is always operating when the vehicle is being driven.
The central 12.3in multi media screen is easy to see and offers functions like a rear view camera, audio settings and satellite navigation but I was not keen on the mouse like control which was not very user friendly particularly when driving.
I was pleased to see that the radio could also be operated manually and the instrumentation was well designed and easy to see but the electronic parking brake control was hidden away at the side of and below the steering wheel and not all that easy to locate - it would have been much better on the central console.
The roomy 450 litre boot was very accessible and it was easy to lift large heavy shopping bags into and out of it with the boot floor lifting to reveal a space saver spare wheel which I much prefer to puncture repair kits. Lexus has done an excellent job with this GS update and that striking new front has provided this model with the wow factor it deserved to make it more competitive especially against those aforementioned German premium car manufacturers.
Model: Lexus GS 300h Executive Edition.
Power unit: 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor.
Output: Engine 178bhp; electric motor 141bhp.
Top speed: 119mph. Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 9 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 64.2mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 104g/km.
Price: £33,495 on the road.