Lexus GS 450h – First Drive: Imagine, if you will, a new automotive world where automakers do things like replace tachometers with kilowatt meters, build cars with more than 300 horsepower that get better than 20 miles per gallon, and don’t choke the skies with noxious fumes. It sounds great, like a sci-fi world, an automotive utopia of blue skies and happy environmentalists holding hands with enthusiasts and singing “Kumbaya.” It’s here, courtesy of Lexus and its GS 450h, and we hate them for it. Built to take on the most powerful V8 luxury sedan monsters under $60,000, the GS 450h does all of the above, with a sinister smile that tells us things will never truly be the same.
And we love them for it.
Really, we do – it’s a love-hate, heart-head kind of thing. It’s easy to admire this car, with its smooth powerband and efficient powertrain, and even easier to want to drive it, for all the things it is: the next stage of performance luxury cars, a technological marvel that will one day get parked inside a museum as one of the first clean-running, fuel-efficient power sedans ever built. Most of all, we love it because it’s fast and gorgeous, a speeding bullet on the road with endless power. Sure, the car has issues. It feels cramped inside, and all the attached safety technology takes away some of the pleasure of handling this type of vehicle. But that can be fixed; the powertrain, meanwhile, is beyond what most competitors are doing. And it’s just the beginning. Up next is the Lexus LS 600h, and who knows after that – maybe a Lexus supercar that runs on tofu and bean sprouts. For all that, yes, we love it, but we hate it, too, because Lexus has taken the anger out of the engine, the feeling out of the shifter, the romance away from driver, car and road.
They took the tach out and replaced it with a kilowatt meter. Some things you just can’t forget, or even forgive – no matter how much you want to drive the thing.