IS this a new Lexus? Well, no, but it is new to us in the UK and is tasked with being the replacement for the GS model.

It has in fact been around elsewhere since 1989 and this is the seventh generation of the mid-size saloon.

Renowned for its comfort and refinement, the ES now has a new chassis for a more dynamic exterior design and better driving performance and provides for a more spacious interior and quieter ride.

They’ve certainly worked hard to give the ES the best shot at luring drivers away from other premium brands. The engineers took three long years to perfect the plush seats and give the cabin a quiet and calm ambience. That’s not to mention the class-leading safety features.

It follows the LS flagship saloon and LC luxury coupe in carrying forward a new chapter in Lexus design by utilising a new global architecture platform and introduces a new self-charging hybrid system.

Elegant it most certainly is, with a lower bonnet line, distinctive silhouette and rearward-sloping roofline that emphasises the vehicle’s lower stance. lamps that wrap around the quarter panels to generate a continuous styling line when viewed from any angle.

There are three trim levels – ES, F Sport and Takumi – with F Sport models getting a rear bootlid spoiler, badging and a dark lower rear bumper valance to add emphasis to the look. Three different 17 and 18-inch alloy wheel designs are available across the ES and Takumi grades, with the F Sport version running on 19-inch wheels.

Inside, there’s a lot to like about the driver-centric cockpit and spacious and comfortable area for the front passenger. The driver’s focus is kept on the road ahead by locating the centre display screen, instrument panel and, where fitted, head-up display in a tight cluster within their field of view.

The driving position and experience is excellent, thanks to a ten-way adjustable heated and ventilated seat, a more natural steering wheel angle and revised pedal positions.

However, Lexus has persisted with its fiddly touchpad control system for the infotainment screen. It requires precise movements to take the icon around the screen in much the same way that you might guide a marker around a laptop screen and is quite difficult to master.

Another annoyance is the location of the drive mode selector on what looks like a bolt behind the steering wheel.

Rear passenger comfort has long been a hallmark of the ES and the new model upholds this quality, in spite of the sleeker, sloping exterior roof line. A lower hip point and carefully configured headlining preserve headroom while the longer wheelbase ensures generous legroom.

The ES takes on-board quietness to a higher level, using new technologies and design features first seen in the Lexus LS limousine. It is undoubtedly one of the most serene models in its class and the perfect companion as a cruiser.

The ES 300h is equipped with a new, fourth generation self-charging Lexus hybrid drive system that can deliver good fuel efficiency, responsive performance and minimal emissions for a mid-size luxury saloon. It couples a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with a electric motor to produce a total power output of 215hp and a combined cycle fuel economy between 48.49 and 53.55mpg.

It’s pretty quick, too, registering a 0 to 62mph time of 8.9 seconds. Engaging the sport drive mode further enhances acceleration by boosting torque at lower speeds, while paddle shifts can be used to move through six simulated gears.

Although the design of the front suspension is similar to the previous ES, several changes have been made to improve overall responsiveness. If the challenge was to turn a saloon known primarily for comfort and quietness into one that is capable of excellent handling, then it is mission accomplished.

The ES is offered exclusively as a self-charging hybrid, with front-wheel drive.


Lexus ES300h

Price: from £35,155

Engine: Four-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol combined with electric motor, producing 215bhp

Transmission: Continually variable automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 8.9 seconds; top speed 112mph

Economy: 48.49 to 53.55mpg

CO2 emissions: 103g/km (18-inch wheels)


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****