Lexus hybrid to cure

tunnel vision

Lexus GS 300h, side, action
Lexus GS 300h, front, static
Lexus GS 300h, front, action
Lexus GS 300h, rear, static
Lexus GS 300h, rear, action
Lexus GS 300h, interior

THERE is a proposal on the table to boost traffic flow across the Peak District by building a £6m twin-tube tunnel under the Woodhead Pass. Sooner rather than later it is to be hoped.

Especially for under siege residents of leafy Mottram who will be popping the Prosecco corks at the prospect of being able to cross the road at 10am and find night has not fallen by the time they reach the other side.

Needless to say the idea of making life easier for motorists is an anathema to some. Europe's longest tunnel? Will not the earth be rent asunder by earthquake and deep reservoirs empty themselves into the fleshpots of Deansgate?

Well that's not the main argument against. And neither is it concern that around the clock drilling will have an adverse effect on moorland hen harrier breeding. But give Chris Packham a chance, he'll get to it.

No, it is the psychological effect on drivers spending half an hour in what will be, at up to 15 miles, longer even than the Hankipanki Halibut cutting in Norway, Europes longest tunnel.

The question is what will happen to people kept in a dimly lit, uncomfortable tube for mile after mile? You may know this as a train.

Well it won't bother me having no scenery to look at for 30 minutes, not when the alternative is being hemmed in by nose-pickers and mobile phone shouters in an M62 tailback.

What is more, if you drive a half-decent car, built for the open road not an open shopping center, passive safety and driver warnings abound. Frankly, if you can't keep your mind on the job for this length of time you need a roadside drugs test.

Bringing us to the sort of business class saloon which will both benefit from this route and ease fears over fumes underground, the 220bhp Lexus GS 300h.

The hybrid version of the GS has always been a bit of a left field contender in the executive saloon market. BMW diesels have been the choice of the common man and Jaguar XF the desire of those who put classy looks first.

Now a revamp has produced a GS with an attractive exterior which matches the diesels for economy at 46mpg on the computer and a promise of a possible 57.6mpg average. Tax is a laugh at £30 a year and bic at 15%. The finance director will love this one.

The petrol engine is a 2.5-litre and the electric motor is 105kw. This all drive the GS along through a CVT gearbox, smoothly and without incident.

Forward momentum is not bad at nine seconds to 62mph but more important is the cosseted luxury of drifting along knee deep in leather and in silence for some of the time. Long-rage work is a joy, even in tunnels, but the GS is hardly a gymnast on twisting roads. That's what you get with the bulk of a hybrid. The batteries also affect boot space but you would barely notice unless you really should have bought an estate car.

It is a Lexus so what you see is what you get. The only extra on this £37,000 Luxury version was black paint with sparkly bits. And that includes the 12.3-inch display with navigation which I am now fully in love with.

For the record, the pre-crash safety equipment protects occupants and pedestrians and there is a warning for just about everything short of nuclear war.

Delights in the exceptionally well put together cabin include a DVD player and easy access wheel and seat. The rest is fully automated and camera equipped electric wonderland, wipers, high beam, adaptive cruise, that sort of thing.

Low emissions, low tax, high quality with the usual relaxed Lexus drive set the hybrid up for business success. If all you see are the usual suspects I call it tunnel vision.

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