Lexus GS (2012-present)

The Lexus GS is comfortable and luxurious, but the hybrid saloon is less efficient than rivals

Strengths & Weaknesses


Smooth hybrid system
High quality interior
Comfortable ride


Gearbox emits a droning sound
Small boot
Heavy and ponderous in corners

Since 1993 Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus has been trying to persuade drivers to choose its premium-priced products instead of those from German manufacturers – and Jaguar.

The GS is the company’s large saloon – designed to compete with the Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF, and it comes with the promise of better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions than most of its rivals, which means that business users will pay less company car tax.

Its efficiency is achieved by making all Lexus GS models hybrid, with a battery and electric motor as well as a petrol engine. The battery recovers energy when you slow down or brake, allowing the GS to run on electric power at low speeds for short distances. The motor and engine can also work together when accelerating. The extra electric power means that the engine doesn’t need to rev so hard, which saves a considerable amount of fuel.

The result is that the GS has carbon emissions of just 104g/km, placing it into a low company car tax category and reducing road tax to £20 a year. It sounds impressive and would have been five years ago, but competition has moved on. Diesel versions of the Mercedes E-Class, Audi A5 and BMW 5 Series offer better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. And a hybrid version of the E-Class has half the CO2 emissions of the most efficient Lexus, making it eligible for the lowest rate of company car tax.

The GS does come with a better level of standard equipment than the cheaper models from its rivals. There is leather upholstery throughout and a big 12.3in dashboard screen, which has a joystick that you use to control music and sat-nav: the system isn’t as simple as those in German rivals, which have a more user-friendly dial.

Riding in the Lexus is more comfortable than in its competitor’s cars because it’s set up to be quiet and relaxing. It does make the car feel less agile and exciting to drive, though.

That’s partly due to the added weight of the hybrid system, which also reduces the boot capacity to 450 litres, compared with the 540 litres of the E-Class or XF.

It all makes for a car that struggles to stand out amongst cutting-edge competitors. But if you’re looking for a comfortable car that’s mostly driven in town where its hybrid system is most efficient, then this could prove a good choice, particularly if you can secure a large discount with current Lexus GS deals.

Last Updated 

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 10:00

Key facts 

3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
450 litres
From B (£20 per year) to F (£145 per year)

Best Lexus GS for... 

Lexus GS 300h
The lower-powered of the two GS variants has an impressive official fuel consumption figure for a large premium saloon, with 64.2mpg on the combined cycle, while carbon dioxide emissions are also persuasive, with 104g/km placing it in Band B (cost £20) for vehicle excise duty.
Lexus GS 450h F Sport
It might be a hybrid, but the inclusion of a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine as part of the set-up does up the performance credentials considerably, with a 5.9-second 0-62mph acceleration time.

Lexus GS History 

February 2012 The GS 250 and 450h go on sale in the UK in February 2012.
January 2014 A smaller hybrid version, the 300h, replaced the non-hybrid 250.
January 2016 An updated version of the GS with revised styling goes on sale.

Understanding Lexus GS car names 

  • GS
  • Engine
  • Trim
    Executive edition
  • Engine
    There are two engine variants, both of which are hybrids that combine a petrol engine – either 2.5-litre or 3.5-litre – with an electric motor. Both engines are suffixed with the h to denote their hybrid nature.
  • Trim
    There are four trim levels – Executive Edition, Luxury, F Sport and Premier. The different trim levels rise in price, with additional equipment being incorporated the higher the trim level.

Lexus GS Engines 

300h, 450h

There are just two engine variants available in the GS, both of which are hybrid units.

The 300h combines a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, which together produce 223PS. Power drives the rear wheels, either from the conventional engine and electric motor together, or from the motor alone, according to the driving conditions, the driving style and the drive mode selected. It’s a quiet and smooth-sounding engine when cruising and under gentle acceleration: alternatively, in electric-only mode, it is whisper-quiet, which is particularly effective (and clean) in urban low-speed situations.

But in common with Lexus and Toyota’s hybrid systems, the GS utilises a continuously variable transmission (CVT) gearbox, which can be noisy when attempting hard acceleration. It also lacks a real responsiveness, taking too long to increase the revs when you want to up the pace. A combination of the petrol and electric motor also adds weight, so the 0-62mph time isn’t that swift, at 9.2 seconds. However, buyers opt for hybrid cars for the economy, not performance: the GS delivers in this area, with an official figure of 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km. Is it possible to achieve these figures in the real world? Yes, but you have to drive very, very economically – which is unlike the way real-life motorists drive.

The 450h has a similar hybrid set-up, but it's a more performance-oriented engine, thanks to 3.5-litre V6 petrol and more powerful electric motor, together producing 345PS. On the road, it does feel significantly more powerful, with a 5.9-second 0-62mph – but it is also mated to a CVT gearbox, so the same caveats apply as with the 300h. Economy also suffers, with 46.3pg and emissions of 141g/km. 


Fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed


Petrol/electric hybrid






Petrol/electric hybrid





Lexus GS Trims 

Executive Edition, Luxury, F Sport, Premier

The Lexus GS, as a premium executive car, is highly specified, with a lots of equipment fitted as standard – more than most of its German rivals, which often consign features to long lists of optional extras.

The ‘base’ 300h Executive Edition therefore features such as 17-inch alloy wheels; LED headlights, rear lights and daytime running lights; keyless entry and start; leather upholstery; dual-zone air conditioning; front and rear parking sensors; 10 airbags; an infotainment system, including navigation, that is controlled by a mouse-like Remote Touch Interface control and 12.3-inch display; 12-speaker audio system with DVD player, DAB digital radio and two USB ports; electrically adjustable heated front seats; Drive Mode Select, which enables the driver to choose switch between three settings – Eco, Normal, Sport – to change power output, steering and throttle settings, depending on how the driver’s preference; and traction and stability control.

The 300h Luxury edition adds 18-inch alloys wheels and ventilated front seats, with the option to add a sunroof or a 17-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system.

The F Sport trim, available for 300h and 450h models, adds features that place an emphasis on sporty styling and performance. So there are 19-inch alloys; LED headlights with adaptive high beam; a different bumper and grille design; rear spoiler; blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert; sports front seats; aluminium pedals, scuff plates and interior trim inlays; perforated leather on the steering wheel and gear shift; adaptive suspension and a Sport+ drive mode; and four-wheel steering.

Range-topping Premier trim adds exclusive 18-inch alloys (with 19-inch versions also available); upgraded semi-aniline leather upholstery; an upgraded air conditioning system with rear seat controls; a heated leather and wood steering wheel; head-up display; 17-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system; electrically adjustable front seats with variable cushion length and calf support for the front passenger; wood trim interior inlays; electric rear window sunshade and manual rear side window shades; and an electric bootlid.

Lexus GS Reliability and warranty 

The current generation of the Lexus GS (the fourth) is highly regarded by owners, appearing in fifth place overall in the 2016 Driver Power survey and five category scores inside the top 10. Buyers praise its build quality and reliability, the high-spec cabin and extensive range of equipment. Lexus is also placed second in the list of manufacturers.

Lexus models are covered by a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, while hybrids (which includes all GS variants) there’s also five-year or 60,000-mile cover for the hybrid components and the hybrid battery. The overall warranty is the same as that offered by Audi, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz cover unlimited mileage.

Used Lexus GS 

The GS doesn’t sell in huge numbers, so there aren’t vast amounts of them on the used market – indeed, there were fewer than 10 examples when we searched on Buy a Car. A three-year-old 13-plate GS 300h F Sport, with just 7,234 miles on the clock was available for £17,995 – a £23,000 saving: while a 2014 300h Premier that has covered 26,000 miles was 24,950, a depreciation of £18,295. Used, the GS offers a lot of car at a big saving.

There are also deals to be done on new cars, with deals on Buy a Car at time of writing including £4,411 off base 300h Executive Edition models and £6,258 off 450h F Sport variants (including the additional sunroof and Mark Levinson audio system fitted). 

List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for economy







Lexus GS 300h






Best for performance







Lexus GS 450h