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The Warsaw Voice » Society » January 28, 2015
Car review
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Ultramodern and Eco-Friendly
January 28, 2015   
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The Lexus GS 300h F Sport is an alternative to models such as the Audi A6, BMW5 and Mercedes E-Class. It not only matches its rivals in attractive body styling, equipment and travel comfort, but also offers something extra—an ultramodern hybrid drive.

Not everyone knows that work on a hybrid propulsion system began in the 19th century. In 1897-1907, French company Compagnie parisienne des Voitures Electriques constructed the first hybrid vehicles. An automobile powered by a combustion engine supported by an electric motor was patented in 1905 by American Henry Piper. However, the ideas of the first hybrid builders were not appreciated until a hundred years later. In the 1960s, Toyota designers began studying the usefulness of hybrid drive to power cars. The result was the production, in 1997, of the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car—the Toyota Prius. Since then, the Japanese have produced nearly 6 million hybrids, and this experience has also been used in the company’s Lexus marque. Interestingly, the Toyota-owned luxury Lexus brand has largely become synonymous with a hybrid car as this type of drive is offered in all models.

The Lexus GS F Sport has a very attractive classic look. The four-door sedan is 4.85 meters in length and has balanced proportions. Its predominant body styling features include sharp, triangular edges. It boasts an hourglass-shaped grille, sharp-edged headlights, and an extended “sporty” bumper. From each side the car looks dynamic.

The passenger cabin is elegant and refined, and the finishing materials are of the highest quality. The dashboard is clear and ergonomically laid out. However, the car can only seat four adults—if they want to travel in comfort. The trunk, due to batteries mounted under the floor and the back seats, is 432 liters in size and smaller than in the gasoline version (552 liters). But there is plenty in terms of comfort and safety features. Even the entry-level Elite version offers 10 airbags, ESP, bixenon headlights, electric seats, parking sensors, automatic climate control, satellite navigation and an excellent audio system.

The F Sport version, in addition to a sports style package, offers features including LED headlights with cornering light function, a power tailgate, a blind spot monitoring system, and an electrically-controlled rear window blind.

The Lexus GS is available either with a gasoline engine or as a hybrid combining the power of two interconnected engines. The GS 300h model delivers 223 hp, and the GS 450h model offers a generous 345 hp. The test-drive GS 300h unit was fitted with a 181 hp/2.5l. gasoline engine and a 143 hp electric motor. The electric motor in hybrid cars is used not only to assist the gasoline engine when starting the car or accelerating, but also enables whisper-quiet drives over short distances in the EV electric mode. The work of the systems can be monitored on an ongoing basis on a large 12.3-inch display panel in the center panel of the dashboard.

Working with the engines is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that theoretically has an infinite number of gears. When you drive slowly and steadily it shifts almost imperceptibly. The driver has a choice of several driving modes: Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus as well as the EV button to activate the electric motor only.

Depending on need, the Lexus hybrid can be powered by exclusively the electric motor—if you want to move silently and very slowly—or can turn into a reasonably dynamic car capable of accelerating from standstill to 100 kph in 9.2 seconds. While this figure may not exactly sweep you off your feet, there is a chance that the fuel economy will: according to the producer’s technical data the car uses an average of 4.8 liters per 100 km. Even though during the test-drive fuel consumption was almost two liters higher, its overall appetite for fuel was nonetheless moderate, considering the dimensions of the vehicle, its weight and, above all, the travel comfort offered.

The Lexus GS competes with executive-segment peers such as the Audi A6, BMW5 and Mercedes E-Class. The Lexus hybrid can be a good alternative to turbodiesels offered by these rival automakers. The Lexus is better equipped, just as economical, and very eco-friendly with carbon dioxide emissions of just 117g/km. For many environmentally-conscious customers, this last argument may prove to be decisive.

Bartosz Grzybiński
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