The Office - GS Boss Yoshihiko Kanamori in his new GS 450h
Some offices can be intimidating. You know: the huge desk, the seating arrangement, the motivation poster. This one isn’t like that. I feel right at home in the supportive embrace of what instantly feels like a bespoke leather seat. It’s airy and cool, despite the heat of the California sun outside. Even the modern-classic analog clock lit up softly when I opened the door. I am seated, let me add, in the all-new GS, and the car’s Chief Engineer, Yoshihiko Kanamori, has just joined me in the driver’s seat where he belongs. He’s in charge, this is his office.
This meeting is about how the new GS introduces a new dynamic layer to the bedrock of progressive luxury every Lexus owner understands. Ahead of us is a track comprising two miles of double-lane changes, deceptively tight slaloms, and fast straights configured by Lexus
Meisters to illustrate the advanced abilities of the car. And there are two halves, mirror images designed to reveal the transformation that the GS undergoes when you make the most of its amazing mode-change system.
We’ve chosen the GS 450h for this experience because the hybrid model sits at the heart of the new GS lineup. For many, it will be the optimum model, offering the most appealing mix of remarkable efficiency, low emissions, and high-performance driving pleasure.
Before the drive, here’s a quick GS 450h recap. The new vehicle is powered by a 3.5-liter D4S Atkinson cycle V6 engine and a powerful, water-cooled electric motor. This gives it overall output of 338 hp (252 kW) and 257 lb.-ft. of pulling power that takes the car from zero to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds.
All this and an estimated combined mpg and emissions figures of 31 mpg and 137 g/km respectively. The car—like all other GS variants—is extremely rigid, 14 percent more so than the previous model for enhanced precision and smoothness. It features an innovative suspension design that reduces weight and increases ride comfort. And this model is equipped with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), which allows the driver to select either Normal or SPORT damper settings. It also offers ECO, Normal, SPORT S and SPORT S+ modes.
Kanamori sets off with the GS in Normal mode. I can tell directly that there isn’t going to be that much time for on-track talking because he’s hard on the accelerator, and, though at one with the GS, he’s concentrating on what he’s doing. We’ll get to the details when we’re parked.
Pickup is instant and smooth, with the V6 moving from a low growl to a deep, muted bark before we hit 70 mph on the long straight. Kanamori negotiates the double-lane changes at a speed I wouldn’t dare, and, yes, the tires screech and there’s a moment or two of drift (testament to his skill), but the GS securely locks back to its line every time. We power on through a short straight before twisting through a series of chicanes marked out with cones. Kanamori leaves them unscathed. He’s driving hard, but it looks easy. In the passenger seat, the g-forces don’t hit me like heavy punches; they feel more like steady, circular waves. And even at this pace it feels more like I’m gently swaying within the security of the firmly bolstered seat, rather than getting thrown about.
After a big sweep at the top of the course, Kanamori turns the central rotary dial to SPORT S+. The next corner beckons and we repeat the experience. It’s sharper and quicker all the way through the second mile. The set-up, evidently, gives this gifted driver more speed and, dare I say it, greater confidence. Kanamori looks across at me from under a raised eyebrow and smiles. "This is what it’s about," is what he’s telling me.
Indeed it is, as I discover when I take my turn behind the wheel. Emboldened by Kanamori’s display, I hit the track with gusto. Needless to say, I take out a few cones―but this feels good. Normal mode for the first mile is a joy; the car flows through the twists, it picks up speedwith alacrity, and it decelerates with modulated precision, coupled with the always gratifying whir of regenerative braking power. But then I twist the dial to SPORT S+ and the instrument panel glows red. The whole setup seems to firm up at once, and my confidence rockets. It’s like instantly finding new, ultra-sharp clarity. I’m picking up more road-feel through the steering wheel, turn-in is quicker, and I’m coming out of the exits and into the straights much faster.
Another lap. I repeat the process. It’s the same story but even quicker this time. So what’s going on?
We cruise to a halt, settle, and then Kanamori explains. "The first thing you will have noticed in the hybrid is the instant and smooth acceleration. That’s because with this car, there’s 100 percent torque available from the electric motor at zero rpm, and, thanks to the hybrid transmission, there’s never a pause for an upshift, never a pause for a downshift."
But what about the differences between the modes? "With Normal," he says, "you get the best balance of everything; attributes like performance, emissions, fuel economy, and handling. Cars without AVS―as is the case in certain regions―have SPORT S mode, which itself makes a difference through significantly faster throttle responses and transmission shifts. Steering feel improves, too, because there’s less power assist. In the hybrid version, just switch to S mode and use the paddle shifters to feel a sporty g-force deceleration when downshifting.
We drove the AVS-equipped GS 450h, which adds some interesting extras. The steering, for instance, becomes even more direct, and the shock absorbers sharpen up. That’s because the variable suspension is now integrated with our stability system, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), so individual shock adjustments happen hundreds, maybe thousands, of times a second. This greatly reduces unwanted body movement all around. The system is so advanced that it can even loosen up to help smooth out the jarring effects of damaged sections of road."
This all explains my confidence, I point out. Kanamori replies with a compliment about my driving. He’s a generous man.
Likewise, the GS is a generous vehicle, abundant with progressive thinking when it comes to how a human being can interact with a driving machine. In fact, the last thing Kanamori said to me on that memorable day in Southern California was this: "When someone drives the new GS, whether it’s the 250, the 350, the hybrid, or the F SPORT, I want them to know and feel that we at Team GS put everything we had into making this car."
the New GS is still a slug compared to the Famous 5 series , but i gets the job done and look 600x better!
This posts is*very*informative.*Thank you!
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