The Lexus ES is a series of compact, mid-size cars sold by Lexus since 1989. Six generations of the sedan have been introduced to date, each offering V6 engines and the front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout. The first five generations of the ES were built on the Toyota Camry platform, with the sixth generation more closely related to the Avalon. Manual transmissions were offered until 1993, a lower-displacement inline-four engine became an option in Asian markets in 2010, and a gasoline-electric hybrid version was introduced in 2012. The ES was Lexus’ only front-wheel drive vehicle until 1998 when the related Lexus RX was introduced, and the sedan occupied the entry-level luxury car segment of the Lexus lineup in North America and other regions until the debut of the Lexus IS in 1999. Lexus, officially made its debut in India in March 2017, by launching three vehicles in the country – Lexus RX450h Hybrid SUV, Lexus LX 450d and the 6th generation Lexus ES 300h Hybrid Sedan.
Barely 18 months old in the Indian automotive scene, Lexus introduces the all-new 2019, 7th generation ES 300h Hybrid luxury sedan. The ES name stands for “Executive Sedan”. However, some Lexus importers use the name, “Elegant Sedan”. Lexus has positioned the ES in the comfort luxury segment, with an emphasis on interior amenities, quietness, and ride quality. Read on further as we bring you the exclusive and most comprehensive roadtest review of the all-new 7th generation ES 300h.
Exterior & Styling
Based on the (Global Architecture-K) GA-K platform & the L-Finesse design philosophy, the all-new 2019 ES 300h is longer, wider and lower than the preceding model. The most amazing thing about this car is the styling on the front end, which is largely borrowed from the new LS. The menacing spindle styled front grille being the highlight of the car makes it very sharp, low, wide, elegant and sleek, all at the same time. The headlamps are one of the sleekest and sharpest we’ve ever seen on a car. It features a 3-eye Bi-Beam all LED main headlights with integrated LED turn signal indicators and the L-shaped DRL’s (daylight running lamps) and also integrated within the bumper are the multi-weather all LED cornering lamps. Perfectly complementing the rear LED combination lamps.
The L-shaped three-dimensional design is engineered to combine high visibility and distinctive style. You get this fluid flow of lines along the flanks all the way up to the rear end, which again is quite distinctive. In fact, the rear end is quite muscular and angular if you look at the lines that have these incredible cuts, and it actually looks like there’s a gap between the spoiler and the boot, but there isn’t. The character lines of the side silhouette converge, giving the rear bumper a dynamic presence. But most importantly, if you look at how the rear wheel arch flares, you see how it give a real muscular stance at the back, which is surprising for what is essentially a front wheel drive hybrid car. Overall the design and styling of the ES 300h is quite impressive and commands attention wherever it goes.
Interiors, Infotainment & Safety
The cabin of the car is one of the quietest to be in. It features ECU controlled ANC (Active Noise Control) wherein it uses the engine rpm and a dedicated microphone that generates a counteractive phase sound from the speakers to cancel out outside noise significantly enhancing cabin quietness, exactly like the noise cancelling headphones, but lets in the important sounds like the horn etc., to a certain extent without being too disturbing or irritating. This is unlike the noise cancelling headphones which totally isolates you from the outside world. Almost 93% of the cabin is covered with NVH (noise, vibration & harshness) deadening materials with three layers of special padding on the floor itself. Even the wheels are designed to reduce road noise, it has a hollow part throughout the circumference of the wheel which reduces the vibrations coming from the air inside the tyres while driving. The ceramic coated glass on all four doors cuts out the UV rays and the acoustic front & rear windshield and the acoustic moon-roof further aides in keeping the cabin silent, and makes the music system sound even better.
Speaking of the music system, the ES 300h comes equipped with a 17 speaker unit including a subwoofer, 1800 watts Mark Levinson audio system. It’s an American luxury hi-fi audio system known for its professional studio quality auditory bliss. The sound quality is nothing short of spectacular, be it the highs, the mids or the lows. The best part about the Mark Levinson audio system is that it decompresses the normally compressed audio formats such as .mp3, .wav etc. If you happen to own the uncompressed audio files, the ones found on an original audio CD or apple/ windows lossless audio files, it sounds even better and more immersive. If you’re one of the audiophiles then you also have the option to use your own music via the 3.5mm audio jack or USB. The 12.3-inch EMV (Electro Multi-Vision) displays incoming mobile calls, audio system, maps etc., and coordinates the display of select information with the multi-information display integrated into the 7-inch colour TFT Optitron meter and the large colour head-up display positioned in the driver’s line of sight to allow the driver to concentrate on driving.
The ES 300h comes equipped with a total 10 dual-stage airbags, ABS (anti-lock braking system) with EBD (electronic brake-force distribution) and TCS (traction control system).
The car also comes equipped with TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) and an electronically adjustable steering column for reach and rake. It also comes equipped with an energy efficient air-conditioning system which provides 3-zone independent control of temperature for the driver’s seat, front passengers seat and the rear passenger seats. A control panel for the rear passengers is conveniently placed in the rear centre armrest. The front seats are made of perforated leather with heating and cooling feature. The front passenger seat has a 12-way power adjustable mechanism which includes lumbar support, whereas the driver seat gets a 14-way power adjustable mechanism with additional under-thigh support for better driving dynamics. The storage space between the driver and the front passenger can be opened and accessed from either side and also comes equipped with a wireless charging pad. The rear seats are the most comfortable to be in with 8-degrees of lean angle power adjustable via the switch placed on the centre armrest. Sadly, the rear seats are not cooled and only get the heating feature.
Engine, Transmission & Drive
The ES 300h comes with a very efficient 2.5L four-cylinder petrol engine combined with two electric motors that produce a combined total of 215 horses at 5700 RPM and churns out a healthy 221Nm of torque between 3600-5200 RPM. The electric motors are powered by a Ni-MH battery pack which is neatly placed under the rear seat. The engine is mated to an E-CVT (Electronic-Continuously Variable Transmission) with paddle-shifts. With all the new and additional features, the car has lost 62kgs over the outgoing model. The car now weighs around 1700 kilograms but, despite that, it accelerates from 0-100 kph in 8.9 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 180 kph. The ride quality is unlike any other Japanese car, it’s plush, supple and glides over rough patches and undulations like no one’s business, even with those large 18-inch wheels and low profile 235/45 tyres.
The steering is good to hold, well weighted and precise, further aiding the driving dynamics of the car. The ES 300h is by no means a driver’s car and the company is not promoting it as one either. But the combination of electric and petrol powered motors will put a smile on most driver’s faces. The brakes are good and bring the car to a standstill without much drama, although we would’ve liked it further if it had a little more bite. The car handles most surfaces with aplomb and holds the line quite well while manoeuvring the corners. The rear tends to slide a bit when pushed hard, that’s when the TCS comes into play and keeps the car from going out of control.
We think that our government should push hybrid cars more than pushing the electric cars. A hybrid car makes so much sense when it comes to fuel efficiency without really compromising on power and vice versa. The electric cars demand so much of infrastructure in the form of power outlets every few hundred kilometres. Then if there’s a power outage on any of the power outlets (which is very frequent in a remote location) that’s a whole different problem. Not to forget where the batteries would be discarded in case if they have to be replaced with a new one or what would happen to the battery/ car and its passengers in case of an accident.
If you think all of the above with a cool mind a hybrid car makes so much sense. With a fuel efficiency figure of over 22 kpl and a tank range of over 1200 kilometres the Lexus ES 300h sounds like a perfect car for extra-long drives. Imagine driving from Mumbai to Jaipur in one go without a refuel. Sounds unbelievable right? It’s totally possible with the Lexus ES 300h and yes it also is the latest style statement in the Premium sedan segment.