Hybrid Lexus goes endurance racing

Published: 03 June 2007

A track-honed version of Lexus’ GS450h hybrid saloon has completed a 24 hour Japanese endurance race.

The racer ran the production car’s powertrain: a 292bhp V6 petrol engine supplemented by 197bhp from an electric motor. This petrol-electric hybrid delivers the power of a V8, but with combined fuel consumption closer to that of a four-cylinder engine. The Denso Lexus GS450h went twice around the clock to assess the motorsport potential of hybrid drivetrains. The introduction of hybrids into Formula 1 racing is under discussion, so Lexus is researching the car’s performance for parent company Toyota’s F1 team. Engineers overhauled the GS450h for its campaign, revising the suspension, improving the aerodynamics and reducing weight. A safety roll cage, reinforced fuel tank, limited slip diff and new brakes, wheels and tyres were also fitted. However, the GS450h hardly put in a stellar performance at the Tokachi International Speedway in Hokkaido. The car finished fourth in its production car class, and 17th in a field of 33. Reliable but middle of the road in terms of dynamic performance? Typical Lexus, really.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine