All-new Lexus ES300h Sport Luxury an enticing blend of indulgent luxury, technology, quality and hybrid efficiency
What is it?
The new ES promises more space, style, luxury and technology than any of its predecessors.
What’s it cost?
The Lexus ES range opens with the ES300h Luxury which is priced from $59,888 and the Sport Luxury as tested here, which has a recommended retail price of $74,888 plus on roads. Standard equipment levels on the Sports Luxury are generous: there’s adaptive cruise with speed sign recognition, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, 10 airbags and a 360 degree camera system. Automatic LED headlights help to turn night into day.
There’s also supple hide on the seats, automatic seat heating and cooling, a heated steering wheel wrapped in wood and leather, 14 way electric adjustment and 12 way electric adjustment for the front passenger, a heads up display, satellite navigation, power adjustable reclining rear seats, a 17 speaker Mark Levinson stereo with subwoofer and amplifier and an electric rear blind.
Remember, all these goodies are standard. So it’s safe to say the ES300h Sports Luxury is good value.
What’s it go like?
At present, all Lexus ES models are powered by a hybrid drivetrain that consists of a 2.5 litre four-cylinder engine and a hybrid motor that produce 160kW combined, and the petrol engine develops 221Nm of torque and the electric unit develops 202Nm.
Power is sent to the front wheels via Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Performance is best described as relaxed and luxurious. The ES300h is by no means a performance sedan. Rather, it prefers to waft you to your destination with a minimum of fuss. Push on, and the CVT whines in protest, which discourages enthusiastic driving. A shame, really, because the petrol and electric motors offer up more than enough torque.
There are a number of driving modes, ranging from Economy to Sport+, but we recommend flicking the rotary dial to “Comfort” and enjoying the ride.
Now, being a hybrid, economy is important. Lexus claim an official combined fuel consumption figure of 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres. We managed around 6.5 litres on a combined cycle, which is still decent for a car of this size.
On the road, handling is acceptable. Again, though, this car’s focus of luxury rather than dynamic prowess is more than evident. Steering feel is communicative, but the ES300h can feel big and heavy.
Ride quality is excellent. The ES irons out all road imperfections with aplomb, but it never feels floaty or you’ll never feel sea sick. Road noise is kept in check, too.
What’s it like inside?
Beautiful. Really. Lexus is coming to the fore with its interior design. The materials are beautiful to the eye and touch, the seats and plush yet supportive and everything feels well, expensive, just like a luxury car should and perhaps most pertinently in this category, the ES300h makes you feel important.
As aforementioned, the seats are plush and the automatic seat heating and cooling does an excellent job of adjusting the seat temperature to match the cabin’s ambience.
Perhaps and bugbear of the new ES cabin – and potentially of all Lexus models at this point in time – is the infotainment system. Instead of utilising touchscreen technology, Lexus has employed a mouse style controller and a few shortcut keys. The system does take a while to fathom, but once familiar it isn’t overly difficult to use. The graphics are a little dated though, and it is a little disappointing that Lexus refuses to adopt Apple CarPlay/Android Auto technology.
The Mark Levinson stereo, however, is probably one of the best we’ve sampled. Boasting formidable power and rich sound quality, the audio system transforms any journey into an aural delight.
Interior space is generally fine. Front passengers are treated to a decent amount of head, leg and shoulder room, while back seat passengers have good leg and shoulder room, passengers over 6 feet tall may find head room a little tight.
Overall, though, a wonderful place to be.
What we like:
- The ES makes you feel special
- Beautifully crafted inside and out
- Generous amount of standard equipment
- Hybrid efficiency
What we don’t:
- Can feel a little cumbersome at times
- CVT can dilute driving experience
- Dated infotainment system
- Rear headroom may be tight for some
The Lexus ES300h Sport Luxury is an excellent all-round mid-size that’s sumptuous, stylish and hewn from the quality that Lexus has become renowned. Worth a close look.