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Lexus 'green' but plush vehicles are now a reality

By unknown | Oct 01, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mabuyane Kekana

Mabuyane Kekana

When Toyota South Africa first brought the Toyota Prius to our market, the response was disappointing.

The public's resistance to these vehicles was probably based on fear of the unknown.

We have seen every motor show in the world displaying greener vehicles on the stands, but how many of them do we see on our roads?

This weekend saw the launch of Lexus Performance Hybrids in Mpumalanga. The new Lexus RX 400h and the new GS 450h were put to the test on Saturday and Sunday.

It was rather interesting to drive and observe a real hybrid vehicle.

The first impressive thing about the Lexus hybrid engine is its quietness. Press the start button and you still cannot hear the engine. Luckily there is a "ready" signal that appears on the cluster.

Another amazing thing is the power that comes out of the engine. Much like a supercharger or turbocharger are traditional means of boosting performance, hybrid technology uses an electric motor to supplement the petrol V6 engine.

Electric motors are among the most efficient energy resources when it comes to output and have impressive torque characteristics because maximum torque is available from the moment the motor turns.

The GS450h electric motor is a compact permanent magnet type that allows for maximum torque to be reached instantly while making virtually no sound.

The water and oil cooled AC synchronous motor adds 275Nm of torque (available from zero rpm) and 147kW of power to the petrol engine at full throttle, significantly improving performance.

In addition to the electric motor the GS450h uses a refined 3,5-litre V6 petrol engine developing 218kW at 6400rpm and 368Nm of torque at 4800rpm.

The GS450h is electronically limited to a top speed of 250kmh.

The GS450h returns an average fuel consumption of 7,9L-100km, very similar to the level returned by rival diesel models and almost half that of an equivalent automatic V8 competitor.

The Lexus GS450h benefits from 10 airbags; two-stage Dual Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) front airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, front and rear side airbags, as well as side curtain airbags.

Standard safety features include ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.

The RX400h uses a refined 3,3-litre V6 petrol engine developing 155kW at 5600rpm and 288Nm of torque at 4400rpm.

The RX400h's primary electric motor is also a compact permanent magnet type, which allows for maximum torque to be reached instantly while making virtually no sound.

The water and oil cooled AC synchronous motor adds 333Nm of torque and 123kW of power to the petrol engine.

At full throttle, and when all-wheel drive is required, the additional rear electric motor further improves performance. The secondary rear motor adds 50kW and 130Nm to the RX400h.

The GS 450h pricing is R586100 while the top of the range SE sells for R635000 and the RX 400h is priced at R644900.

The Lexus Hybrid Drive battery is also covered by a threeyear-100000km warranty.


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