Lexus’s Kitchen is Cooking Up Speed

“Here, try this,” says Lexus, holding out a spoon for me to try their latest main course. I’m a picky eater, so I don’t usually like this game.

2013 Lexus GS450h

“What is it?” I ask, cocking my head sideways and looking for an exit.

“It’s a 2013 GS450h.” Lexus reassures me.

“That sounds exotic and weird. Is it Japanese? Is it raw or cooked?”

“It’s a V6 hybrid. Here, try it with this performance course we’ve set up for you. You can even have a professional driver with you.”

The dish looks good, all red and saucy. And I confess, paired with a pro on a course at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the best circumstance to try out this new offering. It looks hot, maybe I should let it cool a little before I try it. A hybrid on a course of twists, turns, and slaloms is new to me.

But like I always tell my son, whose method of trying new things is to place the smallest possible point of his tongue on the spoon in an effort to taste as little of the new dish as possible-I knew I needed to try a good hearty bite.

So I get in the car and the first thing I notice is the bamboo. It was exotic and interesting. The steering wheel has been tweaked in several different places where my grip is different. Lexus tested some professional drivers who were wearing special gloves with sensors in them while driving the car. They realized that people hold the wheel differently in different spots. Lexus always has some fancy procedure and explanation for their features.

2013 Lexus GS450h Interior

If you’ve been following the GS450h in the past, you know they’ve offered up the car with a V8. Lexus says the car powered with a V6 is enough horsepower. This brought out the skeptic in me. It’s like replacing heavy cream with light yogurt. Don’t tell me I won’t be able to tell, because I will.

Okay, I was wrong. I couldn’t tell. It was amazing to drive drive, and I was so surprised at how fun it was. The acceleration was constant, without a shift. The CVT (which usually leaves a bad taste in my mouth) was terrific, and made me feel more like I was driving a slingshot than a car. Increased curb weight kept me stuck to the ground like a magnet. I was nervous for the slalom at the end though, feeling like that weight would come back to haunt me. It didn’t. The GS450h made it through like a champ. Lexus has spent enough time in the test kitchen to know it would be great, but critics are a tough crowd.

Add to the GS stew the estimated 29/34 mpgs and that feels a bit better. The little taste I got of the GS450h is delicious, and I can only hope to have a bigger helping when the car is released in full production, spring 2012.

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