Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Who Blew Up My Cake?

On test... Lexus GS450h F-sport
[As appeared in the November issue of Khuluma, the Kulula in-light magazine.]

Adopt the brace position. Things are about to explode.

Obviously even printing those words in an in-flight magazine can get you arrested by the undercover air marshall sitting you and I sincerely hope you don’t mouth them when you read. Things are going to go up in a fireball though… these two myths, to be precise.

1. Lexus’s are boring. It’s pretty accurate to say that while Lexus’s (Lexi?) might enjoy a stellar reputation as perhaps the world’s most reliable automobile brand with levels of service that make even the Germans weep into their weissbier, Lexus’s have had as much effect on the excite-o-metre as a pair of pleated chinos.

Yes, the two halo models – the Lexus IS-F sedan and ultra-exclusive LFA supercar – will raise their hands at this point, but those rare exceptions aside, the rest of the range would be the best described by the word ”safe”. Like said pleated chino, a Lexus would fulfill every duty expected of a car – or pant – with aplomb… but do it in a way devoid of any actual drama or exhilaration.

2. Hybrid’s are slow. No surprises here. Of the ever-increasing amount of hybrid automobiles available over the last five years, not one of them could be described as “quick”. Or even “nippy”. And that’s fine. Hybrids are, after all, designed to save fuel, save you money and save the planet. Your basic win-win-win deal. Which means having a hybrid that both blew your hair back and won-won-won would surely be like having your cake and eating it, right?

Well, put on the kettle and grab a small fork. It’s cake time.

The GS450h F-sport is the hybrid version of Lexus’ new sedan and it is a properly quick motorcar. Thanks to 225kw of lightly Tazer’d ponies from a 3.5-litre V6 assisted by two high-output electric motors, it actually feels like that decidedly un-eco-friendly powerplant, the beefy V8.Enjoying the cake?

And not just quick either, its handling is sharp as a pin and nimble as hell. Courtesy of some oriental black magic, you can select Sport+ mode, which firms up the suspension and steering responses, and hustles all 345Nm of tarmac-eating torque around corners like a race car.

It’s certainly not boring to drive and, unlike its predecessor, this new Lexus GS is certainly not boring to look at. The styling is razor sharp as its handling, with an aggressive, squinty front-end that looks to have a few Germans in its sights.

There you have it… the Lexus GS450h F-Sport… it’s like an exploding cake. Something of a mixed metaphor, yes, but strangely accurate.

The Lexus GS450h F-Sport costs R770 700