2011 Lexus GS 460
2011 Lexus GS 460Enlarge Photo
Exciting unveils from next month’s New York Auto Show may prove that hybrids are finally turning a corner, as rumors circulate that we will see the debut of the new Lexus LF-Gh concept. The luxury automaker will aim to take down the Infiniti M35 Hybrid with the new concept.
Here’s what we can probably expect from the LF-Gh: A bigger, newly designed model to lead the refreshed GS line. Plan on seeing an increase over the current GS Hybrid’s horsepower (340), fuel efficiency (22/25 mpg) and price (starting at $58,000). No telling what it will look like, but Lexus needs to come out swinging as hybrid sedans are growing more bold and performance-oriented.
Take, for example, the Infiniti. The automaker has recently flooded televisions with their new ad for the M35h, a striking design packed with impressive performance for a 380-horsepower machine with a gasoline-electric engine. The image of it powersliding across the tarmac, wheels squealing in desperation, all while cutting down on emissions is more excitement than we’re used to seeing from a “green” car (I’ll take mine in dark blue, though).
This is a hybrid battle that we can get behind. While automakers have mostly gotten over the idea that gasoline-electric cars have to be bland, tin-box go carts, there have still been few that raw a visceral emotion or reaction. This Lexus/Infiniti hybrid battle could be one of the first steps toward an “exciting hybrid” market. Automakers are learning to provide green options to the public while still giving them what they really want; an attractive, well-built car that can get sideways if I feel so inclined.
Infiniti certainly has that in the M35h. It has the current GS Hybrid beat in power (360 hp), efficiency (27/32 mpg) and price ($53,700). At this point, a choice between the two is almost a no-brainer, especially with Lexus’ traditionally softer driving feel.
But Infiniti knew that a new GS was coming, and that could be why they’ve recently come out with such aggressive commercials against the current rival model. The M35h has set a high bar for the LF-Gh to match, and in April we’ll find out whether or not the new GS Hybrid and the rest of the line can clear the hurdle.