The full package
The Lexus GS450h takes the five or so generations of hybrid technology developed by parent company Toyota and packs them into a great luxury vehicle, discovers Julia Hoare.
Iwas somewhat surprised to receive a call asking if I would be interested in test driving a car for a week. As a tax partner and leader of PwC’s sustainability practice, this is not something that I typically do. Although I have occasionally watched a bit of Jeremy Clarkson, I certainly do not profess to be an expert on cars! However, the request involved driving a Lexus GS450h and once I realised that the “h” stood for hybrid, given my interest in sustainability I was suddenly very interested to find out how this car measured up.
My first impression was that the car was large and had a dazzling array of technology on board. However, once on the road it was clear it was easy to drive and the design features made the driving experience both comfortable and enjoyable.
The dashboard has a huge multimedia screen, enough to make my 13-year-old son ecstatic. The split screen enabled me to have a combination of options on display including satellite navigation, multi-media integrating all the popular applications, climate data and the car’s energy efficiency statistics, all easy to operate using the centrally located mouse. The Mark Levison sound system was a pleasure to listen to and the integrated bluetooth phone was easy to use, immediately syncing to my mobile.
The driving experience was great too. My initial concerns about the car’s size were readily allayed with the help of numerous clever features. The seat, with its 18 positions, meant I could sit higher giving me a feeling of clear visibility. The Heads Up Display gave me all the essential driving information I needed projected onto the base of the windscreen within easy line of sight. The side mirrors have blind spot lights for additional warning. And the reversing camera was too good to be true.
Initially, the silence of the car was unnerving and I needed to check the dash to make sure the car was actually turned on. The GS450h essentially has three operating modes to maximise its energy efficiency. Depending on the conditions, it will either be driven by the conventional petrol engine, such as when I need power to go up a hill, by the battery, such as when the car is stationary, or by both when maximum acceleration is required. When travelling downhill, the car is clever enough to harness the power being generated and use this to charge the battery. All of this is graphically displayed to me on the large screen so I can see how I am driving. Once I was familiar with the Lexus and its features, I drove the car at various speeds under differing driving conditions to see how the car performed as a hybrid. The fuel efficiency of the vehicle was amazing, particularly for a car of its size and performance. From my perspective, the Lexus GS450h offers a truly sustainable package without compromising on space, luxury or performance.
The Heads-Up Display gave me all the essential driving information I needed projected onto the base of the windscreen within easy line of sight
Julia Hoare is a partner with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and leads the sustainability and climate change services.