Drive Lexus GS450h Used Car Review

12 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Drive Lexus GS450h Used Car Review отключены
Lexus Electric Cars

David Morley


Big performance with a social conscience

Luxury and comfort all the way

Lexus brand has its own cachet these days

Simple to drive despite comlex driveline

In city use, it will make a differnece to running costs


Feels heavy in some conditions

Luggage space in boot is limited thanks to battery pack

Stepless transmissin can give odd feeling of the engine pvertaking the car

Still expensive

Talking with Lexus engineers at the 2006 launch of the all-new GS range (which includes the new GS450h), one thing was made abundantly clear: diesel engines are simply not on Lexus’ radar.

There’s even a view within the brand that the diesel engine could be … or … within five years.

That’s a big claim but it underlines the company’s faith in its hybrid technology.

A new version of the GS four-door coupe is due in about April, so you’re not likely to inherit a technological orphan if you want to add a used 450h to the driveway. But that doesn’t mean the current GS450h won’t take a price hit when the new model arrives and that brings it on to the radar of switched-on used-car buyers.

So what is a GS450h?

Essentially, it’s the GS four-door body with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor good for 147kW to boost power when needed, as well as capture energy as the car either brakes or coasts to a stop.

Interestingly, the power never exceeded 254kW on our test drive though it theoretically could.

As well as driving the car, the petrol engine can also charge the batteries via the electric motor even when the car is not moving.

The idea is that the Lexus can run on battery power alone while crawling along in traffic and needs the petrol engine only to accelerate up to traffic speed or when the batteries are depleted.

Given that, the hybrid technology does its best work in city traffic, where it can recharge its batteries in the stop-start conditions.

Out on the open road, it’s a different story and you’ll find the petrol engine running non-stop on a freeway cruise, for instance, reducing the effectiveness of what is rather a heavy load of technology (the batteries aren’t light).

The continuously variable transmission can take some getting used to but is deemed necessary for the efficiency benefits it brings.

The other big compromise is a seriously small boot for such a big car, a result of the bulky battery pack living behind the rear seats.

But there’s no doubting the GS450h’s performance.

With both the petrol and electric motors operating in tandem, it rockets away with an easy, torquey feel that leaves its more-expensive-when-new, V8-powered GS430 stablemate in the shade.

Naturally, being a Lexus, there is also a long equipment list and the sort of five-star safety that buyers of new models of such cars take for granted.

The big question mark over a complex car like this, of course, is long-term reliability.

But regardless of the convoluted driveline, this is after all a Lexus — which is another way of saying a very well-constructed Toyota.

That can only mean good things if you’re thinking about a second-hand one.

There has also been plenty of speculation about just how long the battery pack will last.

Lexus warrants the batteries for 10 years, so any cars out there will still have plenty of that cover remaining provided they’ve been adequately serviced.

Lexus Electric Cars

The company claims that the batteries are good for the life of the car, anyway.

Beyond that, Lexus Australia says it has no knowledge of any of its hybrid cars needing a battery-pack replacement because the batteries have worn out. If they do, Lexus says, the tales of woe of owners facing $10,000 replacement bills are simply not correct.

The replacement cost for a GS450h battery pack is said to be about $4100.

In the meantime, we’ve also heard of Toyota hybrid taxis in North America and Cairns in Queensland clocking up more than 500,000 kilometres without major mechanical problems. Part of that is probably down to the fact that the petrol engine component hasn’t been running for all of those kilometres in the first place.

Perhaps the bigger question revolves around what happens when the car is eventually scrapped and the batteries need recycling.

Mind you, that applies to all new cars, not just hybrids.

But for now, the trick is to find a GS450h that has been given proper servicing, including the regular 10,000-kilometre check-ups important to its life.

Because the GS450h is more complex than a conventional car, this is one time when a Lexus-dealer service record might be worth more than one from a generic workshop.

Speaking of dealers, an extended warranty plan is available for second-hand GS450hs but, as with any other such warranty, we’d be wary of signing up for something with a lot of fine print. A Lexus-approved second-hand vehicle scheme is at work within the Lexus network, which might offer the peace of mind some buyers seek.

Need to know

Battery packs should last the life of the car. Time will ultimately tell.

Servicing could cost a little more.

The need for specialist Lexus servicing locks you in to the dealer network.

As with any loaded luxo, ensure everything works properly.

The competitors

Big sedan with big performance thanks to lusty V8 engine. Likes premium fuel, however, so running costs won’t be tiny.

The 450h’s non-hybrid brother, the GS430, was more expensive when new but cheaper now. Less intense V8 driveline does a good job with the usual petro-penalty.

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