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Motors: GREEN MEETS MEAN IN A HI-TECH HYBRID.

Byline: By Bill McCarthy

MUSCLE machine or lean and green? The firecracker Lexus has a foot firmly in both camps.

Designed as a performance car, the hybrid technology delivers the double bonus of turbocharged performance and low emissions.

It is not the most environmentally friendly car, but bearing in mind it features a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, it puts most of its luxury rivals in the green shade, delivering astonishing power with emissions of 186g/km.

The Lexus is one of those cars that just bristles with innovation and technology - to the extent that some of the controls are hidden away on a pad that ingeniously folds away into the fascia and then drops down at the touch of a button

A typically Lexus method of saving space, but the real technological masterpiece is the hybrid technology that combines a powerful electric motor with the petrol engine that returns around 30mpg, excellent for a luxury cruiser, and those low emissions.

Official figures put economy at near 36mpg, but maybe I was just a little too enthusiastic with the right foot.

The keyless entry system with programmable electronic key allows the engine to whisper into life via the starter button and the only indication that anything is happening is the glow from the dials.

Slip the auto box into gear and the car glides away noiselessly using just electric power from the battery.

Press the accelerator and the engine kicks in and also starts to recharge the battery.

Really accelerate and the electric motor boosts the 292bhp to 341bhp, giving blistering acceleration, before the really clever bit when braking and deceleration forces send power to a generator which in turn recharges the battery.

So the 197bhp electric motor acts as a kind of turbocharger but without drinking the fuel and delivering the kind of performance usually only available from gas guzzling V8 rivals.

Some diesels produce less carbon emissions, but other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide are virtually non-existent.

This makes it an extremely attractive luxury company car option, attracting a 24 per cent company car tax rating.

And luxury it is. It is a handsome looking car, the front end dominated by teardropshaped headlights and foglights and the rear end sporting a subtle spoiler.

Inside is even better, the last word in luxury. The test model featured cream leather upholstery and the seats offer good support and positioning.

Fixtures and fitting are of the highest quality with nice wood insets offsetting the leather.

It features just about every conceivable electrical gadget and toy, plus a few extra including, knee airbags to supplement the other 10, parking sensors and reversing monitor which is part of the standard sat-nav/climate/audio set-up, plus electronic chromatic device, which automatically illuminates the dials to prevailing lighting conditions.

It also offers a superb ear-splitting Mark Levinson sound system, the only fully electric climate control air conditioning system in its segment, adaptive front headlights and cruise control On the road the rear-wheel drive Lexus is remarkably composed, absorbing rutted surfaces comfortably, while handling is assured thanks to various traction and stability controls.

The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) co-ordinates braking, stability and traction with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) maintaining car stability.

ROAD TEST

Lexus GS 450h

3.5 V6 SE-L
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 25, 2007
Words:554
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