While Lexus might have taken on a more ‘in-your-face’ attitude with its current range of cars, the ES series has always been the brand’s cornerstone of luxury and refinement - a reminder of the Japanese car maker’s roots and its climb in its relentless pursuit of perfection.
So while the IS, GS, RX and most recently the NX, are creating waves with their ultra aggressive lines and sharp edges, the ES, much like the flagship LS, keeps things a little bit more conservative, which should maintain Lexus’ stranglehold of the traditionally inclined more-senior Asian market.
Now after almost three years since the sixth generation ES returned back to our shores, Lexus is back with a face-lift that should keep it looking in-line with the rest of the model range. The new ES will get improved sound insulation for the cabin, subtle interior revisions, a new sharper spindle grille and a few other exterior styling updates.
Our test unit happens to be the 300h, which in turn forms just a handful of mid-level hybrid sedans currently available on the market. With the ES 300h, Lexus has focused more on returning good mileage versus performance, though this does not mean that putting the electric motor was an afterthought. As the top-of-the-line variant in the ES line-up, the 300h is the epitome in space, comfort with a slew of luxury features.
Featuring a spacious cabin, the ES 300h will smoulder the driver with sheer comfort and relaxation, as three adult passengers at the back get to stretch their legs without getting too cosy to one another. Premium level appointments paired with outstanding build quality blend perfectly into a surreal magic-carpet ride. Of course the other major selling point of the ES 300h would be its amazing fuel economy.
Thanks to its four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, the Lexus achieves an eye-popping 18.1km/l, while still allowing the driver to accelerate rapidly like a 3.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine. The transition between electric motor to petrol engine and back again as well as having both sources running together is seamless and the average driver would probably never notice.
There are no major changes to the exterior though sans the updated front and rear ends. The sharpened spindle grille upfront is further accentuated by new bi-LED headlights that replace the previous xenon units. The rear tail-lamps get a new revised ‘L’-shaped design that incorporates LED technology as well. Lexus has also improved upon their computer mouse inspired Remote Touch controller and interface system, adding a few more buttons for a more intuitive experience.
However, it is still a little clunky and deviates away from the entire Lexus immersion especially while driving. If in-car connectivity is of the essence , you might want to really give the infotainment system a thorough work-out first before committing. Apart from that, the ES 300h puts up a convincing package for anyone new to the luxury hybrid sedan segment. Priced at SGD$241,000 onwards, the Lexus represents very good value for the money with its roomy cabin, plush materials and astounding fuel economy.