2007 LEXUS GS 450 HYBRID
...Is great performance a secret? This hybrid proves it can really go.
By ALAN GELL
Hybrids are not new on the automotive scene. In fact, most consumers are warming up to them and as gasoline prices continue to soar, they are getting second and third look-over’s from the buying public. The new 2007 GS450 hybrid by Lexus, however, is something that the company folks can crow about. This is no barely-get-along-but-save-fuel type vehicle. It’s luxury. It’s performance. It’s quality and value.
A number of select journalists were invited to preview this terrific vehicle a short time ago and I was among the group. We went to the southern Nevada desert. Well, not exactly all desert. There were a number of Indian casinos all along thin stretches of highway that seem to have magically appeared in the past ten years or so. This was pure desert twenty-five years ago, cris-crossed by narrow ribbons of highway and occupied by sparse cactus and a lot of snakes. The countryside has changed. After a very informative briefing, we took out across the desert floor, crossed over Hoover (or Boulder) Dam, circles around, and drove some more. We had the opportunity to really open it up and push the engine more than can be done in a metropolitan area. Most of us attempted the Pedal-to-the-Metal technique. Truthfully – we had been somewhat encouraged to do so by the Lexus PR folks. They had filled us with anticipation during the briefing.
This new GS 450 hybrid is probably among the fastest Lexus cars that they’ve built. From a battery pack? Yes, that’s right. It is the industry’s first truly high-performance hybrid. It’s the first rear-drive hybrid sedan. And it offers all the luxury and conveniences you have come to expect from Lexus. The US market demands a lot more power than most of the rest of the world. We like FAST. We like POWER. But, we’re also asking for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The GS 450 is power by a 3.5 liter V6 hybrid engine which, the PR folks say, is like “the dynamic performance of a modern 4.5 liter V8.” I thought that was a very presumptuous statement until I drove the car. Bob Carter, Lexus Group Vice-President, said, “It will accelerate from zero to sixty as quickly as a Porsche 911 with Tiptronic.” “It was designed to be quicker than every V8 powered competitor in its class…while delivering more than 30% better fuel efficiency,” he continued. The configuration of the gasoline engine and two battery packs is somewhat different. One battery pack is located behind the rear seat, assisting with the rear-drive. There is 180 horsepower water and oil cooled electric motor that recharges the batteries during operation. There’s also a second water and oil cooled electric motor that drives just the rear wheels, although the gasoline engine can take over this job if necessary.
The new GS 450 is estimated to have a top speed of 131 mph. I didn’t go that fast in my test drive, but I can truthfully say it can really get up and go and you should be vigilant for the gendarmes. The estimated mpg is only 25 city to 28 highway. Not terrific by any means, but for the power and speed you get, it’s great. If you had the same lead foot on most other vehicles, your mileage would drop to about half of that amount. But it’s not just about the fuel economy. It’s also about the environment and amazingly reduced emissions. Most Lexus hybrid owners say they “feel good about themselves”, with a high level of satisfaction as well as gratification. There are a number of Lexus vehicles for those consumers seeking luxury, dependability, and value. The GS 450 hybrid will probably appeal more to those among us who want great performance, style, and something a little beyond the ordinary in the way of a luxury sedan. Check out the 2007 Lexus 450h at your neighborhood Toyota-Lexus dealership soon. I was surprised and amazed at the performance of such an attractive sport sedan. You will be too.