Lexus ES review
Elegant, safe and spacious
In a time when SUVs are crushing everything in their path, with sales of estates, sedans and even hatchbacks under extreme pressure, it’s an absolute pleasure to drive a magnificent luxury sedan, and at the moment there are very few better than the Lexus ES, especially at the price.
Lexus has for some reason never taken off in South Africa as they have in other parts of the world, the US of A most particularly. Here we tend to veer towards the Germans if we are shopping in that sort of price bracket, but the more research you do and the more miles you drive, the more you come to realise that very few manufacturers make a superior luxury car than Lexus.
Now, despite appearances, the ES is actually the gateway to the Lexus stable – it is the most affordable Lexus, sedan or SUV, that you can currently buy. Priced at R593 300 for the ES 250 EX it is by no means a cheap car, but it competes on a value proposition with the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but is bigger and more spacious than any of them. Even the hybrid model, the ES 300h SE, is comparatively well priced for what it is, at R843 800.
Yes, space is one of the ES’s biggest (literally) selling points – at over 5m in length it is a vast sedan, larger than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series, and these exterior dimensions translate into a generous cabin for five adults. And if you’re a family man with two child car seats in the rear, you’ll still be able to slide your seat as far back as you need it, without crushing junior’s legs. Another great positive in a family sedan is the size of the boot, which is big in every dimension so that you have space for both a pram and your luggage – not having to choose one or the other.
But the clever Lexus designers and engineers have managed to use their cunning to create a car that doesn’t look clumsy, oversized or badly proportioned. From the tip of that incredible, delightful spindle grille, multi-faceted and exceedingly sexy, to the striking rear, the ES is a car with a statement – that it is both elegant and sporty, and there is no reason to choose between the two. The 17-inch wheels on the ES 250 (18-inch on the 300 h) fill the wheel arches with a lovely sense of proportion, and despite being almost five metres long the ES manages to look well balanced and agile.
Agile. The ES looks it, but does it live up to the promise? Well, ES apparently stands for ‘Elegant Sedan’, so the focus was never going to be on sportiness. The ride is smooth, and while smooth might not be what enthusiastic drivers think they want, it is exactly what anyone wants on a long journey or when you’re driving to work on the less-than-perfect roads of South Africa. This is a car that cossets rather than invigorates, priding itself on getting you to your destination relaxed and ready for the next step. It’s not just the suspension that manages to do this, although that is particularly good – the seats are just soft enough while still being supportive.
Propulsion wise, the ES 250 features a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol driven engine that smoothly delivers 152kW of power and 243Nm of torque. That’s enough muscle to impel the ES smoothly and unhesitatingly to a top speed of 210km/h, but it never feels truly rapid. The 8-speed automatic transmission is a perfect partner to the powerplant, but the onus is definitely on comfort and competence rather than sportiness. Average fuel consumption is a claimed 6.6 l/100km. The ES 300h also uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine, but this is aided by two electric motors for improved fuel economy – just 4.6L/100km – and increased performance.
The Lexus ES 300h is also one of the safest cars ever tested by EuroNCAP, the definitive car safety standard, benefitting as it does from the new Lexus Safety System+. This includes the Pre-Crash System (PCS), which is capable of detecting oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. PCS has also been enhanced to detect pedestrians at night by increasing the radar’s sensitivity and dynamic range. Even the ES 250 is equipped with 10 airbags, while the ultra-rigid new platform has been built with safety front of mind.
It would take more space than is practical to list the comprehensive list of equipment that comes standard in the ES, but one of the highlights is a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, accessed via the usual Lexus touchpad control. The hybrid model gets even higher specification levels than the 250, as well as finishes like genuine leather and wood.
There is no doubt that the new ES is Lexus’s most sophisticated execution of their entry-level sedan, which is also their best seller, and in a just world it would sell as well as any of the Germans. But as appealing as the ES may be, it still needs to alter the local public’s belief that SUVs are better, and Germans better still.
- ES 250 – R593 300
- ES 300h – R843 800
The ES range comes standard with 7-year/105 000km warranty and full maintenance plan. Visit www.lexus.co.za for more information.
Incredible specification levels.
Top-notch premium interior.
More space than rivals.
One of the safest cars on the road.