2013 Lexus GS 450h: First Drive

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If you want a mix of performance, luxury and fuel efficiency, you're really limited to two choices.

One is to pick one of the latest generation of powerful turbodiesel models from Mercedes-Benz or BMW. The other is to go down the hybrid route, with marques like Porsche, Infiniti, BMW, and of course Lexus, all offering (or set to offer) clean-burning gasoline-electric hybrids.

Lexus has revamped its GS line for this year and with it comes the new 2013 Lexus GS 450h. With more power, less weight, better gas mileage and more gadgets than ever before, the new GS 450h is ready for a fight.

Striking style

The first punch comes with the styling. In the words of GS Chief Engineer Yoshihiko Kanamori, "On the freeway in the old GS, I had to flash my lights to ask people to move out the way... in the new GS, other cars move straight away".

Lexus' new 'L Finesse' design language certainly makes the new GS more aggressive before, that rear-view mirror presence enhanced by a chrome-accented 'Spindle' grille design. It flanks a mesh grille on the F Sport models, slatted on the rest. Arrowhead LED daytime running lights complete the look.

The car's flanks are perhaps a little slab-sided from some angles, but 19-inch wheels on the F Sport minimize this, and with a drag coefficient of 0.27, it's certainly an effective shape.

It's also a bit more characterful--we think the GS has finally found its own style, after a string of cars that seemed to uncomfortably crib from the German marques without having the same cohesion or style. It's particularly striking in F Sport trim, which whets our appetite for the rumored GS F model.

Endless adjustment

Inside the improvements continue, where the new GS shrugs off the blandness of old models. The center stack is dominated by the largest infotainment screen currently fitted in a production car, and a wide, horizontal element running across the cabin. In the center sits a tasteful analog clock, carved from solid aluminum billet.

2013 Lexus GS 450h First Drive. [Photos: Antony Ingram]

2013 Lexus GS 450h First Drive. [Photos: Antony Ingram]

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Finding the ideal driving position is a cinch, aided by multi-adjustable seats. These not only slide fore and aft, up and down and tilt, but on Luxury, Premier and F Sport trims, you get two levels of lumbar adjustment, further backrest adjustment, under-thigh support and a button to adjust the seat bolsters to hug you tighter in the corners. Naturally, the steering wheel also adjusts in every direction.

Once ensconced, all the controls fall easily to hand, and with a new head-up display projected onto the windscreen, you'll not need to take your eyes off the road to determine your speed or view satellite-navigation directions. In fact, you'll barely ever use the normal dials, so easy is it to take a quick glance at the HUD.

Thankfully, it's not just the front seat passengers that get to enjoy the interior. The GS is now suitable for four full-size adults, with more-than-adequate leg- and head-room in the back. The trunk over 50 percent bigger too, as the hybrid's batteries are now stacked vertically rather than horizontally, as before.

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