It’s onerous to imagine, however Lexus has been baiting the German premium manufacturers for 30 years now. The 1989 LS luxurious saloon established a template for all future Lexus fashions in Europe – specifically prime quality automobiles backed up an exemplary buyer care programme. Certainly, few manufacturers have been so profitable in our annual Driver Energy proprietor satisfaction survey.
The ES, examined right here in Europe for the primary time, launched similtaneously the LS and has grow to be the agency’s largest promoting (over 2.Three million, in reality) automobile, however the badge was by no means used within the UK or Europe. For 2019, although, Lexus is now providing the ES worldwide – and its look on these shores indicators Lexus’s most severe assault on the may of the recognised German government trio: the BMW 5 Collection, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6.
We had an early style of the brand new ES within the US final summer season, however that is our first probability to attempt the automobile in Europe and for the primary time in F Sport trim. It arrives within the UK not armed with a number of petrol engines like within the US, however one sole hybrid possibility.
In contrast to the rear-wheel drive GS (which the ES replaces within the UK) the brand new mannequin makes use of a brand new 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol powering the entrance wheels. Mixed with an electrical motor, complete energy stands at 215bhp, placing the mid-sized Lexus exec on par with a BMW 525d or Mercedes E220d. As ever, there’s a CVT transmission, too, albeit with six pretend ‘steps’ to simulate gear adjustments.
The entry-level Lexus ES 300h begins from £35,150. It’s a reasonably aggressive value – particularly when you think about the wealth of normal package; electrical and heated entrance seats, an electrically adjustable steering column, a sunroof, adaptive cruise management with stage 2 autonomy and daytime bicycle owner and evening time pedestrian security techniques, are all included.
For £38,150 you possibly can step as much as an F Sport, with extra aggressive styling and 19-inch wheels. The highest-drawer Takumi prices £45,650 and boasts a Mark Levinson sound system, a 12.Three-inch infotainment display, head-up show, a 360-degree digicam and LED headlights with a matrix-style anti-dazzle perform. Each the usual ES and the ES F Sport could be upgraded with Premium, Tech and Security, and Takumi packs, so you possibly can combine and match explicit options.
Even on our F Sport’s large wheels, CO2 emissions stand at a formidable 106g/km – with the entry-level ES coughing out an extremely low 100g/km. Gas economic system on the WLTP cycle ranges from 52.9 to 59.3mpg relying on wheel dimension. For firm automobile drivers that provides a smile-inducing 25 per cent BiK tax score.
However the actual query that wants answering is whether or not the ES can stack up towards the Germans behind the wheel. The quick reply is not any – however it’s not that simple.
The ES will get a brand new kind of suspension that Lexus is asking a world first. It’s barely grandiose to name it distinctive, however within the government class no less than the ES’s suspension is completely different. Briefly, the Swing Valve Shock Absorber has a brand new valve that ensures the precise stage of damping is utilized on the proper time, enhancing low-speed trip and making the automobile nook flatter at velocity. It really works properly, with a luxurious trip round city and a good smoother one on the motorway – though Spain’s easy roads did flatter the automobile.
Nonetheless, the F Sport will get an adaptive model of the ES’s trick suspension, which provides an disagreeable jitter even on some fairly easy roads. It will get worse as you cycle up by the ES’s driving modes, too.
Even with the F Sport’s stiffer suspension giving higher physique management, the ES can’t compete with the BMW 5 Collection’ sheer polish and even the Audi’s A6’s spectacular mix of consolation and driver involvement. But the steering is properly weighted, direct and provides a stunning stage of suggestions, and the chassis is grippy.
It’s not the F Sport’s suspension that’s the most important purpose for the ES failing to dwell as much as the 5 Collection although, however the hybrid powertrain. Something aside from a delicate contact on the throttle sends the revs hovering, a blare of engine noise and little achieve in velocity; the engine merely can’t match its diesel rivals’ big slug of torque with regards to brisk overtaking. That diesel versus hybrid comparability could seem unfair however even a plug-in hybrid Volvo S90 T8 or BMW 530e appear extra eager underneath heavy load.
However drive with the mindset that the Lexus isn’t an exciting, BMW-baiting mid-sized exec, and its extra refined qualities shine by. For outright refinement and lengthy distance cruising, the ES embarrasses the Mercedes E-Class and Jaguar XF, reveals up a Volvo S90 and even ruffles the Audi A6 – it’s deeply spectacular.
The ES’s excellent cruising capacity is enhanced by a beautiful inside. It’s wealthy with plush plastics, supple leathers and the kind of tight construct high quality that Audi’s engineers shall be paying shut consideration to.
If solely Lexus hadn’t insisted on giving the ES such a coupe-like sloping roofline – robbing a prison quantity of headroom – it could possibly be the best automobile within the class for driver and passenger consolation.