The fourth generation Lexus GS first went on sale in Europe in 2012 as a three model range comprising the GS 250, the GS 350 AWD and the high-performance flagship, the full hybrid GS 450h. Adding a fourth model to the range, the Lexus GS 300h launch starts in December 2013.
Positioned at the heart of the E-Premium segment, the new GS 300h will reinforce Lexus' appeal to the fleet market, representing an attractive alternative to 2.0 litre diesel engined rivals. The Lexus GS 300h is expected to account for more than 55% of all GS sales, a significant part of that percentage representing fleet customers.
With the IS 300h on the market since summer of 2013 and the new CT 200h to be launched early in 2014, the GS 300h will bring new strength to Lexus' line-up of full hybrid vehicles in three core market segments: C, D and E Premium.
Coinciding with the launch of the new Lexus GS 300h, several design, technology and safety enhancements are introduced across the entire GS model range.
The Lexus GS 300h will also be available as an F SPORT version, featuring bespoke design elements and model-specific technologies for an even more engaging drive.
FULL HYBRID POWERTRAIN
The new front engined, rear-wheel drive Lexus GS 300h's second generation Lexus Hybrid Drive system is similar to that installed in the IS 300h. Featuring a L4 Atkinson cycle petrol engine with D-4S direct injection technology and two electric motors, it offers significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2, NOx and particulate (PM) emissions, and a uniquely smooth and engaging driving experience.
The full hybrid drive system combines a powerful 105 kW/143 DIN hp electric motor with a 2.5 litre, four-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC Atkinson cycle petrol engine featuring a next generation D-4S fuel injection system, Dual VVT-i and a high-efficiency Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system. The engine develops 133 kW/181 DIN hp at 6,000 rpm, and 221 Nm of torque at 4,200-5,400 rpm.
With the rear wheels driven through the hybrid system's Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT), total system power is 164 kW/223 DIN hp.
Conversely, the new Lexus full hybrid returns class-leading CO2 emissions starting from 109 g/km and an average fuel consumption of 4.7 l/100 km.
As with every model in the GS range, the Lexus GS 300h has been designed to offer customers an engaging driving experience.
Specific airflow management combined with exceptionally narrow panel gaps and addition of numerous aerodynamic under-body elements and aero-stabilising fins award the Lexus full hybrid a drag coefficient of only Cd 0.26.
Body rigidity optimised already on the 2012 GS ensures precise response to steering inputs. Double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension systems offer improved agility, optimum steering feel and a particular focus on rear stability, further enhancing Lexus' legendary ride comfort.
The upgraded braking system of the 2012 GS range features more powerful brakes, improved pedal feel and enhanced Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB) for greater responsiveness and more refined ABS control.
In addition, the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) available on the Lexus GS 300h fine-tunes ride characteristics by independently adjusting the performance of the suspension at all four wheels in response to driver input, vehicle body motion and road surface conditions.
As with the GS 450h F SPORT, the new GS 300h F SPORT version features retuned front and rear suspension to further enhance the efficiency of the AVS system, maximising body control and steering response.
The new Lexus GS 300h shares the bold, dynamic exterior design of the rest of the GS model range, including an aggressive frontal treatment featuring the brand's trademark spindle grille design. A further development of Lexus' unique, L-finesse design philosophy, it gives the GS range the powerful, commanding road presence appropriate to a Lexus performance sedan.
A new range of F SPORT-specific exterior colours is introduced with the launch of the GS 300h - F White, Starlight Black and Midnight Blue. LED fog lamps are also now available on F SPORT models and, previously exclusive to the F SPORT grade, 19" alloy wheels are now also available on Luxury grade GS models.
Interior Design and Comfort
The beautifully crafted GS interior represents a continuation of Lexus' interior design evolution.
An ergonomically designed, dual-zone, driver-focused cockpit combines increased driver's seat adjustment range with optimum control placement and advanced Human Machine Interface technologies, enabling customers to remain alert and comfortable over long periods of time.
A range of highly innovative technologies also enhance the quality of life on-board. They include an 'S-Flow' energy saving air-conditioning system with integrated climate management and award winning 'nanoe' technology, and a second generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) linked to one of the world's largest 12.3" full colour on-board LED multi-information display screens.
In addition, the Lexus GS 300h may be equipped with a top-of-the-range, 17-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Audio system offering sound quality equivalent to that of a live concert hall performance.
The introduction of the GS 300h sees the GS range interior additionally enhanced by a new, boot-type shift lever design and the availability of a new, colour Head-Up Display (HUD) system.
Consistent with the entire GS range, the Lexus GS 300h offers ample space to all occupants, with a particular focus on head and leg room. The GS 300h seats provide exceptional comfort and superior holding characteristics for the widest possible range of body types. And redesigned door openings feature wider apertures for ingress and egress, especially at head height.
Allied to the interior's exceptional comfort levels, high-quality materials and finishes convey a premium look and feel, with a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail for which Lexus is globally renowned.
The GS's state-of-the-art on-board technology now also includes a new Lexus Hotspot system, which offers independent, high speed Wi-Fi connectivity for every vehicle occupant once the car is switched on.
It operates via two 3G diversity antennas which guarantee optimum connectivity even at high vehicle speeds.
The system not only guarantees superior performance to that of a smartphone-enabled hotspot, but is also free from the excessive battery drainage and other limitations which typify smartphone Wi-Fi connectivity.
Available as an exclusive Lexus accessory, Lexus Hotspot is hard wired into the car battery to provide a constant power source.
The Lexus GS model range is comprehensively equipped with one of the most technologically advanced active safety and driver assistance system package available on the market today.
An Advanced Pre-Crash Safety system (PCS) incorporates a Driver Monitor Camera, and a complementary Adaptive Cruise Control system (ACC) functions at all speeds down to 0 km/h on the GS 450h and the new GS 300h.
Additional active safety features include a Lane-Keep Assist (LKA) system, the Lexus Night View system, and, newly available with the Lexus GS 300h, a Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system. RCTA employs the BSM (Blind Spot Monitor) radar to alert the driver to approaching vehicles when backing out of a parking space.
Furthermore the GS 300h benefits from an Intelligent Adaptive Front-lighting System (I-AFS) with Automatic High Beam, and enhanced pedestrian protection. 10 airbags and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners are fitted as standard.
Cost of Ownership
The Lexus GS 300h will offer customers considerable cost of ownership advantages thanks to a unique combination of low maintenance and running costs, significant tax incentives or benefits in many European countries and high residual values.
The GS 300h's Lexus Hybrid Drive system has been specifically engineered for outstanding durability and low maintenance.
The powertrain has been designed with no requirement for a clutch; the starter motor and alternator are integral to the hybrid system and require no servicing or replacement over the life of the vehicle; and the conventional timing belt has been replaced by a maintenance-free timing chain.
With no need to either service or replace these parts, Lexus GS 300h customers can, therefore, realise a saving of some 1,700 euros - the component cost alone - over an ownership period of 5 years.
Lexus Hybrid Drive technology has a positive impact on both brake and tyre wear. Thanks to the efficiency of the regenerative braking system in delivering the first half of all braking force, both pad and disc wear is significantly reduced. Over the course of 90,000 km, the GS 300h is expected to require no disc replacement and just one set of new brake pads representing a further saving of some 500 euros in the cost of parts alone.
The life of the Lexus GS 300h's tyres will also be greatly extended. The 20% higher tyre pressure of hybrid vehicles helps to reduce tyre shoulder wear, whilst both smooth, linear power delivery and the vehicle's balanced weight distribution reduces wear to the tyre treads. Over 90,000km, only one new set of tyres will be required, effecting a further saving of 750 euros.
Overall, over 3 years, 90,000km lease contract, the GS 300h will realise brake pad, disc and tyre savings over 2.0l diesel rivals of about 1,250 euros.
Rigorously assessed for performance and durability, and backed up by over 15 years of in-service experience, the full hybrid battery is designed to last the entire life of the car.
Combining this component longevity with reduced labour times during servicing, Lexus GS 300h maintenance costs are expected to be amongst the lowest in the segment.
Producing class-leading CO2 emissions starting from just 109 g/km, and with superior fuel efficiency of 4.7L/100 km, the GS 300h combines low running costs with signif-icant tax incentives or benefits in many European countries, including France, Spain and UK.
In the UK, for example, both the fleet owner and company car driver realise a significant tax advantage against key diesel-powered segment rivals, which, for fleet owners accounts to L1,000 in average, whilst company car drivers pay on average around L2,800 less in personal tax over a 3 year lease contract.
In France, the Lexus GS 300h qualifies for an Eco Bonus benefit of 3,300 euros.
Companies receive a 2 years tax exemption resulting in an advantage of 880 Euro. Additionally, depending on region, a 100% or 50% registration fee exemption for hybrid vehicles is offered (100% for Paris, 50% for Brittany).
In Spain, its full hybrid status earns the new Lexus sedan a 75% discount on road tax for 5 years -representing a 600 euro advantage - which will also benefit second hand Lexus GS 300h drivers. Spanish hybrid drivers also benefit from lower parking fees and toll taxes.
Lexus Hybrid Drive has now established itself as extremely economical both in terms of consumption and depreciation. In recognition of this, the GS 450h has already won the 2013 Wertmeister Award (a collaboration between Auto Bild and Eurotax) in Germany for the lowest depreciation in its class, reinforcing the high levels of confidence customers place in Lexus full hybrid vehicles.