This month when came up to Glasgow to visit Darren and the team, did I take the easy way and fly from Bristol (an hour from our offices) to Glasgow? Did I hell as like, I DROVE!
So when it came to picking the car I was going to conduct my mammoth journey in, I decided seeing as you have Nessy, I'd bring my own monster with me, and mine proves that not all monsters are big ugly and scary. The Lexus GS 450 Hybrid I decided would be my companion on my journey, and what great company is was. Powerful yet controlled, absolutely stunning to look at, and with more standard equipment and gadgets than James Bond, this is one seriously cool, sexy and luxury mode of transport.
Firstly let me clarify that this is no ordinary hybrid, this ones been in the gym an doing roids, it's a big muscular sport saloon that just happens to have an electric engine as well as a 3.5L V6, which work together and give the GS an impressive 341Bhp. So let's talk technology in easy to understand lingo. The GS Hybrid Drive system works by charging the electric engine so when you brake, normally all the heat produced when you brake is lost into the air. The GS Hybrid system collects all that energy / heat and converts it to Kinetic energy and charges the battery.
When the battery is fully charged when you travel at under 30mhp you use mostly use just the electric engine. This has two effects, 1- you use no petrol and your emissions are zero, 2 - The GS is almost totally silent. The first effect is great; the second is somewhat spooky, but also amusing as you try to avoid mowing down the many pedestrians who don't look before throwing themselves into the road because they can't hear you coming.
The other way the technology works is whilst travelling at motorway speeds instead of solely getting all that cruising power from your big petrol engine the electric engine also powers the car meaning less strain on the petrol and increased fuel economy. Something else I noticed is that by gently building speed to overtake and by getting to your desired speed then taking your foot totally off the gas then gently applying pressure meant that the electric engine totally took over and kept the car at 70mph, which again means no usage of petrol at all.
So how economical is the GS450H? Well Lexus say it's MPG figure for combined is 39.2 mpg, which I disagree with totally, and here's why - Scotland and back for me is an 800 mile round trip, I used a mere tank and a quarter of fuel (85L) which means I was getting an average of 43mpg. The other way to see it is 85 litres of petrol priced at £1.12 a litre means my 800 mile trip cost me £95 in fuel. Now I'd done the same trip in a like for like BMW 5 series 4L V8 (closest version to the GS450H) which has 306 hp compared with the mighty 341bhp of the GS, the Beemer only does 26mpg combined, meaning that my trip would have used 140 litres of fuel (instead of 85L) which would have cost me £157, over £60 more, not to mention the fact that the BMW's CO2 emissions combined are listed as 250 whereas the Lexus is a measly 185.
Now the Sat Nav system in the GS was outstanding, however we did have a rather amusing incident; having picked up Darren in the town centre we then decided to head back to the Premium Inn who were putting us up for the night. As we start heading round Glasgow city centres confusing and winding streets, the Nav decided to take on the intelligence of an 16yr old disco bunny and send us round and round in circles (only turning right, never left) and culminated by leading us into an industry area and into a dead-end, where it helpfully, and to the amusement of all of us, told us to… you guessed it, turn right.
So overall what are my thoughts on the GS Hybrid? I actually cant put into words how much I really enjoyed this car, its gorgeous to look at, a pleasure to drive, its fast, economical, spacious, comfortable, handlings like a dream, literally I could go on for hours, instead I'll say this, if your driving a big saloon e.g. 5 Series or E-class then you should seriously look at the Lexus, its way better looking inside and out, its faster and its way way more fuel efficient