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Lexus debuted an all-new version of its GS 450h hybrid sedan today at the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany. The new car features rakish lines and a more aggressive front end that Lexus says will eventually make it on to more of its cars.

The GS 450h's hybrid system uses a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and electric motor that work together to drive the rear wheels. The system has been improved all around and Lexus says the new car will be as much as 30 percent more fuel-efficient than the old model. Together, the two motors put out 338 horsepower and can drive the car from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds.

Being a brand new big Lexus, the GS 450h is packed full of electronic gizmos designed to give drivers the ultimate in comfort and safety. For example, the GS's air conditioning now features "S-Flow" technology, meaning the air conditioning system will sense how many passengers are in the car and save energy by diverting air flow only to the people who need it. The air conditioner will also come with a 'Nano-e" ability, that generates ions in the air to help purify it.

On the safety side, Lexus has fitted the new car with a five-step stability control system. The car is now able to regulate wheel spin, steer the rear wheels, monitor the driver's status behind the wheel, adjust the cruise control and warn drivers of dangers on the road. Sound like a lot of safety gear? Well Lexus isn't finished. Optional high-tech safety features include a heads up display, blind spot monitoring system and night-vision.

The Japanese luxury automaker has also paid a lot of attention to the driving experience. The new hybrid has an active variable suspension, a stiffer body and steering that adjusts to low or high speed driving.

On the inside, the Lexus GS 450h will differentiate itself from the other GS models with a few little eco touches. The steering wheel for example, is made using sustainable bamboo, rather than traditional slower-growing wood.

That's not to say Lexus is skimping on the extravagance. The analog clock in the dash is still carved from a solid ingot.


See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.


J. MARK STERNBERG is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day..
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