The Lexus ES - Exceptionally Smooth
Lexus is known for its quality-built luxury vehicles, and, although sales have never equalled those of other luxury-vehicle contenders, it is still a very luxurious and prestigious vehicle.
It seems that the Lexus strategy has changed somewhat and that Lexus is now bringing more affordable models like the ES to the market, but, at the same time, Lexus is not compromising on quality or luxury; hence the ES 250 and the ES 300 Hybrid. In essence, the ES looks like the Toyota Camry, except that it is loaded with everything that is normally seen as optional extras. Moreover, its modern design with the new Lexus grill sets it apart from being just another formless, run-of-the mill vehicle. The ES 350 looks fresh and comes standard with the moon-roof, LED daytime running lights, fog lamps, and 17-inch alloy wheels. It is also fitted with a reverse camera and park distance control with guidelines.
The rear LED combination lights are modern and enhance the good looks of the Lexus ES. It is not as sporty looking as the Lexus IS, but it oozes charm and elegance. On the road, the Lexus ES looks as if it is in fluid motion and the comfortable suspension just soaks up any uneven road surfaces. Road-holding is excellent for a car of this size, and whether you are driving the ES 250 with its six-speed automatic gearbox or the ES 300h (Hybrid) with its ECV gearbox driving the front wheels, it performs well and effortlessly through twists and turns. I may be wrong, but, in Echo Mode, it seems to run out of steam on the Highveld, as a result of which you will have to change gears to maintain momentum going uphill. Both models have the four-cylinder, 2.5-litre petrol engines.
Power delivery for the ES 250 is 135kW and 235Nm, while that of the ES 300h is 118kW and 213Nm. For both the petrol and electric motor the kW is a healthy 151kW. This makes the ES 300h the better of the two models for driving on the Highveld. Both vehicles will reach 100kph from standstill in under 10 seconds and the top speed is 207kph for the ES 250, but is limited to 180kph for the ES 300h. I liked the simple, yet striking, layout of the interior with its easily identifiable controls and switches, most of which are in easy reach and make for safe control and execution of commands.
The modern-looking, three-spoke steering wheel is multifunctional. The electrically adjustable and embossed leather seats with memory function are most comfortable, even in the back. To further add to the comfort and luxury, there is lumbar support for the driver and the front passenger and the seats can be heated. Functionality is the key to pleasurable driving and acceptance of a vehicle and here the Lexus is in line with the best of the luxury premium brands. It comes fitted with an 8-inch Electro Multi Vision Display, built-in navigation with remote-touch interface, 3.5-inch Multi Information Display, and a 8-speaker radio/CD with Bluetooth, Aux and USB connectivity. All of these are easy to use and are very effective.
To ensure economic and ‘Eco’ governance, the Lexus comes with two drive modes (and three for the hybrid), being ECO and Sport, with the addition of EV mode for the hybrid. The change from ECO to Sport affects only the throttle response and gear changes, but does not include the stiffening of the suspension. Being summer when we tested the ES, we needed the air conditioning and this dual climate unit worked effectively without bleeding power from the car or influencing fuel consumption. There is rear ventilation and an arm rest with two cup holders. To further keep the car cool, there is an electric sun shade for the rear window. Since this is a ‘big’ sedan, we expected a big boot.
The ES 250 has a 490l capacity and the ES 300h a 425l capacity. Lexus is also synonymous with safety, and the safety features are of the best and include Blind Spot Monitoring with Lane Change Assist. I hope to see this feature become standard in all vehicles, as it really does prevent accidents. Tyre Pressure Inflation Warning is also standard, and, again, this is necessary as it is essentially an early-warning system preventing fatal blowouts. Other features are traction control, Hill Start Assist, an ABS braking system, EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution), and, most importantly, 10 airbags to protect the occupants.
The prices of the two models are, as far as I am concerned, very competitive and provide value for money if you look at the extensive equipment that is normally added as optional extras by competitors. The price for the ES 250 is R435 900, while the ES 300h sells for R515 000. As with the rest of the Lexus range, all models in the ES range are covered by a four-year/100 000km warranty. On the maintenance front, the ES 250 and 300h come standard with the Lexus ‘Distance Plan Plus’.Lexus says ‘more is more’, and I must agree when it comes to spending money on a car. I, too, want more and Lexus gives just that with both its ES 250 and ES 300h. So what exactly are you getting with the new Lexus ES?You get purposeful styling with the now-familiar Lexus spindle grille. The ES is a classic highway cruiser that is superbly crafted with top-notch finishes and bristles with every conceivable luxury, safety and convenience accoutrement.Last thought! The Lexus ES looks amazing in motion.
OUT OF OFFICE | CAR REVIEW
by Carl Wepener
* Prices as at date of publishing