Our Cars: Lexus GS450h F Sport

8 November 2013: The much-maligned Lexus mouse controller

The Details

Current mileage 2120
Claimed economy 45.6mpg
Actual economy 36.7mpg

So I've now spent almost two months with the GS450h and I have to say, the more I drive it, the more I like it. It's such an effortless and smooth car with impeccable refinement. On long journeys it's really in its element. The seats are supportive and comfortable, it seems to glide along on the motorway and yet there's still some mighty performance when you want it.

The more time I've spent behind the wheel, the more time I've had to play with all the various settings and systems. Which brings me onto the Lexus 'mouse'. Because rather than go with a dial controller such as the BMW iDrive system, or a touchscreen like Jaguar and Land Rover, Lexus has gone down a different route.

It calls it the Remote Touch Interface multi-control device. Very fancy. Lexus first used it on the RX450h and since then it has been improved, making it - according to Lexus at least - easier and more intuitive to use. It’s the first system of its kind to adopt a slide haptic joystick mechanism – a slide-type controller that’s much like a computer mouse.

So in order to navigate the main screen you simply move the mouse around. The haptic feedback is very useful as it sort of pulls the mouse toward the main functions on the screen, so you're not simply moving a cursor around aimlessly. It is very strange though and unlike any other system on the market. Of course as with any system you get used to it but I do still find it overcomplicated to use at times.

Lexus GS450h Main Screen

                                Lexus main screen display doesn't look especially modern

The problem is that when you're on the move, trying to drive and move the mouse around isn't that easy. Admittedly using touchscreen systems can be equally tricky, especially if you've got a car with a firm ride or you're on a poor quality road. Trying to touch a particularly button on the screen can prove frustrating as I used to find on the Honda CR-V. I prefer a dial system and personally I find the Audi MMI system the easiest to use.

That said, the GS450h does have a huge display screen. At 12.3 inches it's among the largest found in any production car and it's recessed well in the dash top making it easy to see even in bright sunlight. I like the way it's designed as part of the dash design too rather than sitting on top like some do.

The system itself is pretty decent although it doesn't look the best. The menu design seems a bit old fashioned and doesn't reflect the modern technology in the rest of the GS450h. It's like using a 10 year old mobile phone at times. There are plenty of plus points though. The navigation is excellent with quick routing and has live traffic information (which will offer you an alternative route) plus it takes seven digit UK postcodes. 

The audio part of it is very good too. Especially when you connect an iPod. Searching through artists is easy as rather than having to scroll all the way through from A , it allows you to jump to different artists by letter, grouping them A to D and E to H and so on. Few other systems are as straightforward to use.

« Earlier: Real world economy in the GS450h     Later: The GS gets ready for winter »

Updates
Having covered just over 8000 miles since September, David has grown very fond of the Lexus.
As more manufacturers branch out into hybrid power, our Lexus GS450h has an ever increasing number of rivals.
While a hybrid system is designed to delivery low emissions the GS450h isn't shy when it comes to performance.
The return leg from Spain gave me a chance to appreciate the refinement and quiet nature of the Lexus.
A trip to Spain for the new year saw me covering more than 2500 miles in the GS450h but economy still isn't great.
After three months and several thousand miles I'm starting to notice a few small issues with the GS450h.
Although I appreciate the advantages of CVT gearboxes I've never been a fan. And with the GS I've developed a love hate relationship.
Just in time for the cold weather, we get our GS prepared for winter with a fresh set of winter tyres which will hopefully keep us mobile if it snows.
8 November 2013: The much-maligned Lexus mouse controller
Rather than a dial or touchscreen, the GS is fitted with a mouse-like controller for accessing all the on board functions. But it's not proved popular...
Is hybrid power the future? We're not yet convinced but real world economy in the Lexus is actually pretty impressive.
The interior of the latest GS450h is far more modern than the old model yet there are still some old fashioned touches.
The newest addition to our cars is the Lexus GS450h - the first hybrid we've had on the fleet. So how will it fare over the next six months?
 

Ask Honest John

Value my car