Automobile Magazine has an article up on the Lexus LS 600hL and the Mercedes S400 Hybrid and how their approach to hybrid technology compares:
The biggest benefit of the Lexus hybrid system is its smoothness. The two electric motors and two planetary gearsets allow the big V-8 to loaf except during hard acceleration. Flat-out, the LS600hL might not be any faster than the regular LS, but it doles out power far more effortlessly.
The Mercedes, by comparison, feels like a normal V-6-powered S-class. The Benz and the Lexus behave so differently that you realize this isn’t a battle of which car is the better sedan, it’s a clash between two philosophies. The Lexus was admirably early to market, but suddenly it seems that Benz’s more elegant system reaps nearly the same benefits.
This article is dead on—but it’s important to keep in mind that it was a different world when Lexus introduced the LS and GS hybrids. After all, gas was generally reasonable and there wasn’t a global economic meltdown. Instead of boosting the gas mileage, Lexus went and boosted the power performance, in a way that competed with the top of their respective classes (the LSh in particular was aimed directly at the MB S600).
Now that fuel economy is here to stay, I would expect Lexus to revise their hybrid strategy, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a LS 450h (or something similar) some time in the near future.
[Source: Automobile Magazine]