2007 Lexus GS 450h gauge cluster.
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Lexus is proud to bring you the world's first luxury hybrid sports sedan, the remarkable GS 450h. With its dynamic performance, increased fuel efficiency and the uncompromising luxury you'd expect from Lexus, this hybrid takes automotive engineering to the next level. Fierce on the road, yet friendly to the environment, with the GS 450h, a revolutionary new era in excellence has begun.
The Lexus GS 450h is available in the spring of 2006.
In the past year, Lexus has presented us with some very impressive proof that the modern luxury vehicle is anything but ordinary or typical. Look no further than the latest models for 2006 to get a glimpse of the inner workings of some of Japan's finest creations. Toyota has officially sanctioned Lexus as global brand, to be recognized worldwide in its own merit. No longer will we be seeing Altezzas, Aristos and Harriers re-branded with L-badges. The world - even in its home market of Japan - now sees Lexus as Lexus.
Part of what makes Lexus so unique in a sea of luxury vehicles is the company's dedication to hybrid powertrain vehicles and environmentally friendly performance. Educated by parent company and global hybrid powertrain-maker Toyota, Lexus presented the world with the RX 400h, a remarkable hybrid sport utility vehicle which earned Lexus a number of 'World Firsts' including the titles of world's first luxury hybrid vehicle, the world's first six cylinder vehicle and the world's first performance hybrid.
With such formidable success, Lexus will be spreading its hybrid know-how to the premium luxury car segment next year, fitted into the middle-of-the-range GS sedan. Already, the conventionally powered GS has been a sales hit. Considered to be the first true Lexus, or the first Lexus designed and built for global consumption, as well as the first vehicle to integrate the luxury marque's new L-Finesse design language in production trim, it's also a technological showcase, featuring, for the first time in a Lexus, AWD, VGRS variable steering, the highly advanced VVTi and D4-S-enhanced powerplants, and sporting a whole host of unexpected amenities and advanced technologies. Come early next year, the GS range, which currently includes the V6-powered 300 RWD, 300 AWD, and V8-poweerd 430, will be joined by the 450h hybrid.
For the GS 450h, Lexus has selected its latest V6 creation, the 3.5-litre unit from the new Toyota Avalon/IS350 performance sedan (not the existing 3.0 V6 from the GS300). Like the IS, the motor is transversely mounted to drive the rear wheels, and is mated to a CVT gearbox with a permanent magnet motor sandwiched in between. Seeing as info on the electric half is closely guarded, we'll have to entertain you with stats on the ICE (gasoline engine). Key features include dual VVTi on both intake and exhaust valves, and D4-S direct fuel injection for increased performance and economy. Output is "well in excess" of 300-horsepower, which could mean it may be as high as 350-hp.
As with all hybrids, the benefits are not merely inclusive to horsepower. The boost includes an increase in torque - a steady surge of which is available from 0 rpm. For those curious, the GS 450h really does perform like a car powered by a 4.5-litre engine (which is what Lexus is referring to when designating it with the "450" numeric name), at least according to Lexus' own internal tests. Taking less than 6 seconds to reach 100 km/h from standstill, it slots well into the performance range of high-powered midsize competitors from BMW and Infiniti. Like the Highlander Hybrid or RX 400h, midrange pull should be more than enough to surprise the uninitiated, particularly for passing at higher speeds. As always, the GS 450h abides by Lexus' commitment to producing full hybrid vehicles, with the ability to operate on pure electrical assist or in tandem with the gasoline engine. This seems to be a trend for all new hybrid vehicles, however, with even Honda's Civic now capable of running only on electrical propulsion, and GM committed to a full-hybrid system for its next-generation HEVs.
If you're impressed by the performance, you'll be even more impressed by the GS 450h's amazing fuel consumption figures. While it's true that fuel costs have previously hardly been the concern of most buyers in the premium segment, attitudes are slowly changing, and a trend to environmental issues makes going hybrid the "thing to do". Therefore, Lexus seems to be riding an environmentally conscious luxury curve, and the GS 450h's capabilities of returning EPA figures in the high 20s - equivalent to that of a compact sedan powered by a conventional 2.0-litre inline-four - should make it quite popular at the country club. The GS450h is the only vehicle in its class predicted to obtain SULEV (Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle) rating, and achieved some of the lowest results ever during pre-launch emissions tests. With the GS, you can have your performance, use less fuel and save the environment all without sacrificing high-end luxuries.
Even though the V8-powered GS 430 may include two extra cylinders, it is being dethroned as the model flagship by the GS 450h. To give it this distinction, many of the extra additional features found even on the 430 model will be featured as standard equipment on the 'h'. Options such as heated and ventilated seats, a reverse back-up camera, a power-operated rear window sunshade, active AFS xenon headlamps, radar-adaptive cruise control, VGRS variable assist steering, variable performance dampers, a premium sound system, and perhaps even the touchscreen navigation system, could be on the standard equipment list.
As was demonstrated by the RX 400h, the visual differences between conventional and hybrid models are nearly indistinguishable inside and out. Aside from the rear badge, only new 5-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels are unique, while on the inside the standard tachometer is replaced by a power meter that displays the total output of the combined powertrains. As the vehicle comes with a standard TFT dashboard display, the hybrid system's activities are displayed like a flow chart, as on the Prius, Highlander Hybrid Limited and RX 400h.
With the GS 450h upping the ante on the GS range, there's a good chance that the entire Lexus GS range will be revitalized in accordance to this. Currently, the GS 430 is powered by the well-seasoned 4.3-litre V8, which has served Lexus for many years, however, the latest 3.5-litre V6 used in the new IS 350 exceeds its power output. It has been speculated that the engine's successor will be a 4.6-litre V8 with 350-horsepower, or more. Also, despite the fact that 250-horsepower is merely adequate in this day and age, for a premium luxury car at least, Lexus will most likely replace the GS 300's 250-hp 3.0-litre V6 with the aforementioned 306-hp 3.5-litre V6.
The GS 450h is expected to arrive in showrooms in early spring 2006, and, if our estimates are correct, will command a $5,000 premium over the GS 430 model. In the mean time, keep posted to this space; expect a significant update filling in the critical gaps about the hybrid drive system, plus specific price and equipment should come early in the New Year.
(source: Carpages, by Justin Couture)
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