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.

Element - - Element Motoring -

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.

Pho­tos: Ted Baghurst

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