Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, has hit home runs with the GS 450h and RX 450h. Lusty power plants, seamless integration of the hybrid power systems, a stunning interior in the GS (with the RX losing points for the absurd design of the upper dash centre), a gorgeous exterior (again, for the GS, the RX is polarising for some) and plenty of standard equipment. There’s two models in the GS range, F Sport (tested) and Luxury, with the RX offering F Sport, Luxury and Sports Luxury. Both have a 3.5L V6 petrol engine plus the battery system. Both will operate in electric mode only up to around 30 kmh before the computer kicks in the petrol, even with the driver selecting EV via a button in the centre console. That’s a bit of a shame, frankly, as pure electric driving would extend the range of the petrol usage. Lexus quotes 6.3L of 95 RON from the 66 litre tank per 100 kilometres for the GS, but a surprising 5.7L/100 km for the RX…surprising because the kerb weight is 2210 kilos, 300 kegs heavier than the GS. No, I don’t get that either.
The GS matches the 215 kilowatt V6 to a battery system producing 147 kW and a handy 275 torques however limits peak power to a combined 254 kW. There’s 352 Newton metres from the V6 at a highish 4600 revs yet that low end oomph from the electric motor helps get the big car (1910 kilos kerb weight) to one hundred klicks in under six seconds. Both cars put power to the driven wheels via a CVT with manual shift option.The RX goes for a detuned 193 kW V6, with the electrics offering (according to the website) just another 37 kW for a combined 230 kW maximum power. Maximum torque is 335 Nm, at 4600…the difference here is that the RX appears to use an “Atkinson Cycle” where the proverbial “suck push bang blow” is all accomplished during the one stroke of the engine.
To bustle that hustle there’s 356 mm front and 310 mm rear brake rotors on the F Sport version (there is also a Sports Luxury with 334 mm fronts) whilst the RX gets 328 x 18 front and 318 x 18 rear discs. The wheels vary depending on model; the GS F Sport has 235/40 front and 265/35 on 19s whilst the Luxury goes for 17s and 225/50s on each corner. Rolling stock for the RX are 20 inch alloys, with relatively narrow 235/55 rubber. The engine combinations fairly boot each car along from a standing start and make overtaking a blink and miss it affair. They’re superb highway and freeway cruisers, as a result, with the rapidity in overtaking making that act a safe option whilst easily loping along, quietly and stress free, at the designated speeds. Apart from the thrum of the V6, there’s little noise poking into the well appointed cabins, although the RX did have a sense of vibration from the driveline, as opposed to the silky smoothness of the GS.
The starting procedure is simple: get in, strap in, press the Start button and wait a moment until remembering the car is ready to go under electric power. Select Drive and see 100 kmh in around six seconds…both engines were audible in their starting but the engagement of them in the drive process was unnoticeable, for the most part, with the RX exhibiting the slightest of jolts.Cabin wise, the GS was most definitely the pick of the two, largely because of the choice made in mounting the infoscreen in the RX in the upper dash looking as if it was an afterthought in the design process. Yes, it worked as expected but it really does look as if no planning to integrate the unit into the cabin design was undertaken. Ergonomically, it’s just not as well laid out as the GS.The GS, on the other hand, spoke volumes in regards to class and good looks. The dash design is swoopy, fluid, flowing with style and simply delicious to look at. Muted grey tones on the dash and doors, a slim looking yet curvy set of lines for the dash, the centre console supporting the left arm as the driver accesses the screen’s information via the mouse. The rear seat passengers benefit by having access to their own aircon and media controls via a centre fold out plus it also holds a tab for the electric rear window blind.There’s supple leather, heating and cooling for the seats, a user friendly Head Up Display (HUD) for both, which also scored a mark against in the RX, as the buttons for the HUD, mounted on the lower right of the dash, were fairly and squarely hidden by the steering wheel. The layout on the centre console for the mouse and drive mode selectors also didn’t feel as ergonomically intuitive as the GS A nice touch for both were the LCD dash dials inside conventional looking bezels; at the touch of the Sports/Sports + selector, they’d change colour and text inside without losing the sharpness of vision provided.Vision all round for both was superb, with the SUV style of the RX raising the driver and passengers above traffic and giving a longer view. Both came with a full length glass roof and sun roof, with a fabric covering rolling back at the touch of a button. The exteriors vary, naturally, by quite a margin yet have a strong family look to them.Both have the sharply angled hourglass grille Lexus has endowed its range with, both have LED head and tail lights with the indicators lighting from the innermost section outwards. It looks great and is definitely eye catching.The GS is a sleek, lithe looking beastie, at a long 4880 mm, rolls on a 2850 mm wheelbase and stands just 1455 mm high. Width is 1840 mm, about standard for this class, adding plenty of space inside. It’s a high beltline yet there’s plenty of vision, as mentioned, from the glass house, with a roofline that slopes deep into the rear quarters. The RX is also a big ‘un, at 4890 mm long, with a wheel base of 2890 mm and spreads 1895 mm wide. It’s a touch taller as well, at 1685 mm. The RX is a somewhat awkward looking machine in comparison to the slinky RX, with some odd creases in the front doors and a truly strange rear window line. The rear of the roof angles down sharply from the C pillar, finishing just a few inches above the tail light. It’s distinctive, if hardly cohesive. Both also score the usual unseen and hopefully unneeded electronic intervention programs.There’s also the suite of airbags including side curtain airbags (but no knee airbag?), pre-tensioning seat belts, and more electronics such Blind Spot Monitoring, Pre-Collision Alert, Lane Departure Alert and Tyre Pressure sensors. Both cars had superb road holding although the GS felt a touch floaty over some undulations at the top of the double wishbone’s suspension travel. The RX, with McPherson struts up front and trailing arm rear, also felt a little top heavy in longer sweeping turns, otherwise there’s a firm, taut yet supple when needed ride to be had from both. The GS particularly delighted in its pin point handling, the nose tucking into all corners with perhaps a touch of oversteer, if anything. The RX was neutral in all situations, in comparison. Warranty wise, Lexus offers you a 48 month or 100,000 kilometre coverage, with roadside assistance and even the paint covered for that time.
At The End Of The Drive.
If asked to choose one of the two to keep, A Wheel Thing would have no hesitancy in pointing towarsd the GS. By no means is the RX a bad vehicle, by no means, the preference here is simply towards the sedan for it’s shape, looks and, in this instance, a better looking interior. With prices from $120K upwards, Lexus has set their sights on the continentals and continues to fire shots across their bows and to great effect. For further details on each of the Lexus GS450h and RX 450h, click here: Lexus GS range and here: Lexus RX range