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Lexus ES 300h – Expert review

Lexus ES 300h – Expert review

Snapshot: With its stylish silhouette, brilliant engineering and a luxurious cabin, the new ES 300h has what it takes to outclass its European rivals.

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The letters E and S stand for executive sedan, a nomenclature that dates back to the late 80’s when Lexus originally launched the first version of the car. The car officially takes on the likes of the Audi A6, the BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class, which means it has its work cut out in a highly competitive segment. However, with its sleek, sexy and seductive lines, the ES seems to shout sexy from every angle. It is a head turner from every angle. And in this highly competitive segment, half the battle is won if you have the looks that cook. But should you judge this book by its cover or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Exteriors

The ES with its teardrop design looks cool. The spindle grille up ahead is the big talking point as are the angular headlamps with multiple LED elements in them. Have a look from the side and you will notice that the car has a long wheelbase and also resembles the design of an arrow being pulled back into the bow. The bumper at the back is heavily sculpted and this can split opinions. But there’s no denying that the new ES is a stunning car to look at whatever angle you choose. It has more chutzpah than the European rivals for sure.

Interiors

If I had to describe the cabin in one word, then that one word would be elegance. Sure, it doesn’t have the same opulent layout or feel like the E-class does but that said, the ES feels luxurious and relaxing enough to befit its sticker price. The leather materials used inside the cabin have a nice feel, and Lexus has kept some materials scruffy enough so that your skin doesn’t skid off them.

The super-size infotainment screen isn’t a touchscreen unit but comes with a touchpad system that’s nice and easy to operate. Buyers will appreciate the fact that everything falls easily at hand and all controls are within the line of sight when you are driving. The seats in the front need special mention for they are as good as the ones on the Volvo S60 for sheer relaxation.

Lexus knows that most buyers will be spending maximum time in the back seat, so legroom is more than ample and ahead of the Audi and BMW rivals and almost as good as the Mercedes. Buyers will also appreciate the wide opening doors at the back, which help easy ingress and egress.

Special mention has to be made about the Mark Levinson stereo system, which not only has loud and clear bass but also offers very good clarity. The system also decompresses your files, which means if you decide to play music off an audio app, it will automatically improve the quality for you. In terms of safety kit, you get a total of 10-airbags.  

Engine, performance and gearbox

The basic powertrain is a familiar set-up that propels so many Lexus and Toyota hybrids. A 2.5-litre petrol engine augmented by a pair of electric motors, which can move the car on pure electric power alone but only at slower city speeds. Total power output with both units combined is 215bhp.

The 1.6-kWh battery pack doesn’t sit in the boot but instead resides below the rear floor, which improves rear-seat space, and also helps with the centre of gravity on the car. 0-100kph comes up in a claimed 8.1 seconds, which isn’t the quickest but respectable for the size and weight of the car. Special mention has to be made about the automatic gearbox, which doesn’t feel like a CVT at all. The acceleration is good as well and thanks to the electric motor at low city speeds, power is available instantly.

Ride and handling

The steering isn’t bristling with overt feel, but that said, it offers a nice and positive amount of feedback. Sure, it’s not as crisp as the one on the BMW 5-series but even then the ES offers an accurate steering. Lexus engineers have obviously erred on the side of comfort than sporty handling with the ES and it shows. The long wheelbase ensures that even when driven over the worst of worst roads, the ES can easily annihilate and smother them, offering a relaxing ride. You won’t have to slow down when you see a spot of badly patched up road ahead. But the car will reward a nice and relaxed manner of driving rather than a sporty drive.

Summary

The ES with its strong mix of sexy looks, relaxing interiors and smooth engine has what it takes to outclass its Euro rivals. Being a Japanese product also means that reliability will be good over the long run. It’s different, its sexy, relaxing and overall stands out from a crowd. We recommend a buy.

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