The Lexus GS450h F Sport is the range-topping version of the new GS executive saloon.
It uses a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor to accelerate from 0-62mph in less than six seconds. However, take things a little easier and it can average 46.3mpg and achieve a CO2 figure of 141g/km.
Lexus claims to have put the emphasis back on driver appeal with the new GS; the F Sport hybrid features a Lexus Dynamic Handling package that incorporates variable-ratio steering and active rear-wheel steering to improve agility.
The GS also comes handsomely equipped, and it features a 12.3-inch wide LCD dashboard display screen that Lexus claims is the biggest ever fitted to a production car.
Whats the 2012 Lexus GS450h F Sport like to drive?
When you move off, the GS450h is in full-electric mode, so its nearly silent. Its only when you ask for more urge that the petrol engine kicks in.
GS450h combines a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and an electric motor
The low-down boost of the electric motor gives strong off-the-line acceleration, and the engine is linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that instantly sends the revs soaring when you put your foot down.
True, the resulting noise isnt particularly pleasant, but the revs drop right down again when you lift off.
You can also override the CVT and change gear yourself via the gear selector or paddles behind the steering wheel.
A rotary knob by the gear selector lets you select Sport mode, which sharpens the throttle responses, or Sport+, which also quickens the steering and adjusts the dampers and the rear-steer settings.
The rear-wheel steering, in particular, helps this big car change direction with surprising eagerness, while the steering is quick and well-weighted, which partially makes up for the fact theres little feedback.
Thanks to its adaptive damping and excellent noise insulation the GS450h is generally a relaxing place to spend time, although the ride can become quite unsettled over broken surfaces.
Whats the 2012 GS450h F Sport like inside?
The GS450h has a well-built cabin, and most people should be able to find a comfortable driving position because theres a huge range of electric adjustment.
Dominating the dash is that huge infotainment screen. Unfortunately, its linked to Lexuss Remote Touch Interface, which works like a computer mouse and is very fiddly to use on the move.
Front and rear legroom are good, but the GS isnt as roomy as an Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series; rear-seat passengers over six feet may well wish they had more headroom.
The battery pack in the new GS450h is stacked vertically so it doesnt take up as much boot space as the horizontal one in its predecessor. However, the load space is still rather short.
Should I buy one?
The new GS is a much better car than the old model, and this F Sport is the star of the range.
Its well designed and beautifully made, while all the technology makes it good to drive and impressively clean.
The trouble is, the GS450h F Sport costs 50,995. Thats almost 6000 more than the BMW 535d, which is faster, roomier, more economical and better to drive.
BMW 5 Series
What Car? says