Blog: A car for champagne greens
Dave Leggett | 19 May 2006
I am back from the Lexus GS450h launch now and have written an article (click here to read). The car is an impressive job on several levels and it will be interesting to see how Lexus sales in Europe develop over the next few years.
The trip was also a good opportunity to meet up with a few colleagues and my driving partner was Tony Lewis (of Interchange), who also writes for just-auto.
The driving experience was pretty good, especially straight-line acceleration - plenty of torque allied to the CVT-like transmission; sequential 'step change' mode there if you wanted it. Very, very quiet in the comfortable cabin. It seems picky to say that a Grand Tourer like this could do with more room in the boot that is taken up by a battery (boot capacity is 280 litres versus 430 litres in the GS430). But Lexus has anticipated that point and had Samsonite knock-up some customised luggage that fits snugly into the boot area.
GS450h works out around 150 kg heavier than the GS430 also, reinforcing the importance of weight-saving measures (eg bonnet/hood is made of aluminium and lightweight materials have been used wherever possible on the engine and hybrid components).
We liked the Sat-Nav in the Lexus: easy to use and it was quick to recalculate if we went wrong. But beware of voice command. A colleague inadvertently hit the voice command button on the steering wheel and told the sat-nav to 'shut up'. It interpreted that as 'short route' and instantly put him on another route which took him through the very pretty but very busy hilltop town of Ronda. On these launches they have people to programme your preferred route for you and recalling the original route back from the menu-list proved beyond the poor lad.
On the CO2 question, someone raised the issue, during a presenation to journalists, of the CO2 generated in the production of this vehicle versus the equivalent non-hybrid one. Good point and one at the back of many minds. Unsurprisingly a clear answer didn't really emerge from the assembled experts, but an exceptionally competent PR man stepped in to point to work that has been done suggesting that something like 90% of a vehicle's lifetime CO2 emissions will be incurred during its use, with the other 10% taken up by its manufacture and disposal. But it seemed far from cut and dried. If anyone out there knows of any research in this area....
I must just mention one slightly tongue-in-cheek comment I heard on the GS450h that got a few laughs and stuck in the mind: 'Token environmentalism for rich bastards'.
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