Every once in a while an automaker will create something so special, a new automotive niche is born. This is exactly the case with the all-new Lexus ES. Here you have a car with a restrained price tag offering comfort, convenience and cachet while still managing to satisfy the most sybaritic of palettes.
As Justin Ryan, General Manager of Lexus South Africa, points out, Lexus hasn’t forgotten about the buyer looking for a more value-oriented luxury proposition: “they want all the bells and whistles that a Lexus badge confers, but neither want nor need an eye-popping sprint time to go along with it.”
- A word from the Chief Engineer
- Sharply attired for elegant presence
- Lexus ES launches with two drivetrains
- Top-drawer handling courtesy of a new suspension and steering set-up
- Interior draws on latest L-Finesse design
- Especially safe
- Pricing, Warranty and Maintenance
So what exactly are you getting with the new Lexus ES?
- Purposeful styling with an appropriate dash of drama thanks to the now-familiar Lexus spindle grille.
- Space, space and even more space. As Ryan mentions, “this is one car you’ll want to test drive from the back seat – price-wise the Lexus ES slots in just below the IS range, but spatially it offers accommodation closer to that of the GS.”
- Engaging road manners with ample performance courtesy of the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, 2.5-litre 16-valve, DOHC, Dual VVT-i engine in the Lexus ES 250 and the hybrid petrol/electric combo of the Lexus ES 300h. “The Lexus ES is a classic highway cruiser with a buttery smooth ride and thanks to the sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, it never loses its trademark Lexus poise even when the going gets twisty,” Ryan says.
- A superbly crafted interior with top-notch finishes and bristling with every conceivable luxury, safety and convenience accoutrement.
- “A price tag of R435 900 for the Lexus ES 250… Need we say more?” – Justin Ryan concludes.
A word from the Chief Engineer
“My passion for Lexus ES began when I first caught sight of a pre-production second- generation Lexus ES on the factory floor in the early 1990s. I knew then that I wanted to work on this vehicle and create something special for this, the sixth- generation model. The latest Lexus ES builds on the previous generation’s refinement and smoothness while delivering segment-leading levels of space, luxury and comfort.
“We are proud that it sits in the same price bracket as a small premium German sedan but offers the interior space of an upper luxury limousine. This is what makes Lexus ES unique in the market.
“And while our priority was to create a peerlessly spacious, comfortable and quiet sedan, I also wanted to ensure there was still enough to keep the driver interested. I reached this conclusion when I drove previous generation models during the development phase and found that there was something lacking in terms of dynamic performance.
“So with that in mind, we chose to engineer a new platform for Lexus ES which was more rigid, lighter, longer and lower than what had previously been planned. We increased the number of spot welds on the front and rear door openings and optimised the position of the welds in the door surrounds and wheel housings for added stiffness.
“We then added underbody aerodynamic components and adopted rebound springs for the front and rear suspension, along with counter-wound front suspension springs. This helped us achieve a high level of comfort and straight-line stability for optimal occupant comfort but also provided a more rewarding experience for the driver.
“The refined driving experience is complemented by the adoption of a hybrid drivetrain for the first time. Adoption of special sound proofing materials and sealing further insulate occupants from the outside world.
“We also introduced elements both inside and out that have been an integral part of the invigoration of Lexus vehicles in recent times, including L-Finesse styling. The spindle grille is now a signature element of L-Finesse styling and works particularly well on Lexus ES to provide a bold but elegant statement.
“The interior features an advanced design with fine accents and the proven Lexus Remote Touch, which allows for intuitive control of vehicle systems. Rear occupants will also enjoy the cosseted and luxurious feeling of beautiful leather-accented seats, NanoeTM-enabled climate control for added comfort and electric rear sunshades as standard equipment.
“I encourage you to experience the Lexus ES from both the front and rear of the cabin to evaluate our development efforts first-hand.
“I am very confident we have created an accomplished luxury sedan that will please buyers who may not be accustomed to the amount of space and comfort at this level of the market.”
Chief engineer – Sixth Generation Lexus ES (Lexus International)
Sharply attired for elegant presence
It’s worth mentioning from the outset that the sixth-generation Lexus ES features a brand-new body design built on a new platform with zero carry-over from the outgoing model.
The new Lexus ES’s high-rigidity body provides a stable platform for the suspension, as well as contributing to high levels of crash-worthiness, durability and low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). The body makes extensive use of high-tensile strength steel sheet to provide high rigidity while meeting strict weight targets and maximising boot space.
Five grades of high-tensile sheet steel are used in the construction of the new Lexus ES together with the extensive use of aluminium.
The new Lexus ES body platform design provides for supersized cabin space and an imposing footprint on the road: wheelbase is 2820mm long with a front track of 1590mm and a rear track of 1575mm.
The body designers used a raft of design techniques to maximise body and suspension-mount rigidity including: optimised spot welds in the body sides, body reinforcements, straight rather than curved panels, new sub-frames, new cross-members, body braces, floor braces, optimised frame material locations, a reduced number of body parts, revised/larger panel cross-sections and enhanced joint rigidity.
From an aesthetic perspective, the Lexus ES Line features an elegant silhouette that incorporates the sharp lines of the Lexus L-Finesse design language.
The L-Finesse trademark spindle grille dominates the front design to provide a modern, striking appearance. This is matched by a wide track, pronounced wheel arches and a braced stance at the front and rear where it appears panels have been stretched for a contemporary and strong road presence.
The front HID headlamp units feature Lexus’ arrowhead design daytime running lights (DRLs) while the LED tail and stop lamps in the tail-light units include an enhanced version of L-shaped graphics from the latest generation LS. The tail-light units also incorporate the lines of the number plate garnish to impartprovide a sense of width and continuation to the rear of the vehicle.
The rear bumper design varies depending on the model. The bumper on the Lexus ES 250 contours around the dual exhaust outlets while the Lexus ES 300h features an air-stabilising fin shape that conceals the exhaust outlets to create a clean, low-emission appearance befitting a Lexus hybrid. Lexus ES 300h also features a boot lid spoiler for additional aerodynamic performance. Other distinctive Lexus ES 300h styling touches include blue ornamentation on the front and rear Lexus badges, and HYBRID emblems on the rear doors above the rocker panels.
In profile, the Lexus ES combines useful practicality with elegant aesthetics. The window stretches upward to the high roofline to aid entry and egress while contemporary styling touches include a flamboyant kink on the rear doors leading into the c-pillar.
Aerodynamic sensibilities played a crucial role in determining the final Lexus ES design – its slippery shape and sleek proportions result in a drag co-efficient (Cd) of just 0.27. Aero stabilising fins are integrated on the doorframe covers and sides of the tail-light lenses. The fins create vortices that pull airflow towards the vehicle and shrink the layer of air around the body, which enhances stability while driving.
Underbody covers in conjunction with airfoil fins strategically located on the front, middle and rear sections of the underbody help to achieve additional aerodynamic efficiency by smoothing airflow underneath the vehicle and reducing drag. Not only is this to the benefit of fuel economy but it also promotes handling stability.
Lexus ES 300h features a hybrid-specific front grille and a unique boot-lid spoiler to enhance aerodynamic performance while differentiating the hybrid and petrol models.
Attention too has been paid to the placement of the side mirrors – the distance between the mirrors and body has been optimised to reduce wind noise when driving.
All models are shod with 215/55R17/93V tyres. The two alloy wheel designs complement the elegant lines of the Lexus ES exterior styling package: the Lexus ES 250 features a 17-inch alloy wheel design with a dynamic, six-spoke profile, while the 17-inch design of the Lexus ES 300h model comprises five aerodynamically profiled spokes for maximum efficiency.
The Lexus ES Exterior at a glance:
- An all-new, high-rigidity, body platform design with larger wheelbase equals a supersized cabin.
- L-Finesse design language incorporating the signature spindle grille.
- Striking headlamp treatment – HID headlamps with DRLs.
- Bespoke rear bumper treatment for Lexus ES 250 and Lexus ES 300h (Hybrid gets unique front grille and boot-lid spoiler).
- Aerodynamically efficient Cd of just 0.27.
- 17-inch alloys in two distinctive designs.
Lexus ES launches with two drivetrains
The new front-wheel drive Lexus ES is available with a choice of two power sources – four-cylinder petrol and Lexus Hybrid Drive petrol-electric hybrid. Touted to be the most popular model of the two, the Lexus ES 250 is powered by a 2,5-litre, 16-valve, DOHC, four-cylinder engine employing dual-VVT-i technology.
The Lexus ES 250’s peak output figures are 135 kW at 6 000 r/min and 235 Nm of torque at 4 100 r/min, and the engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Lexus ES 250 will sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 9,8 seconds and achieve a maximum speed of 207 km/h, with a combined fuel consumption figure of 8,0 litres/100 km and a CO2 emissions figure of 188 g/km.
Lexus uses the acronym VVT-i – with the “i” standing for the intelligent way the system optimises valve timing across the engine operating range, providing maximum performance and fuel efficiency. The introduction of variable exhaust timing reduces pumping losses and increases the amount of exhaust gas recirculation, for reduced emissions. The system reduces emissions even when the engine is cold, for example, at morning start-up.
Lexus ES’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine also has a new acoustically- controlled induction system, which improves torque from 2000 to 4000rpm in the heart of the driving range. The intake manifold design is lightweight, quiet and made from a multi-function resin that improves airflow. The design of the new intake port has been optimised through computer-aided engineering. It delivers high power output and improved fuel efficiency by ensuring high air flow and intake tumble flow.
Other engine features include low-tension piston rings, an offset crankshaft, three-stage variable output oil pump and roller rocker arms. These deliver improved fuel economy, lower emissions, high power output and reduced vibration and noise.
Highly efficient intake ports, compact combustion chambers and a higher compression ratio all improve combustion. During the research and development phase in Japan, the cylinder head was redesigned to improve output, fuel efficiency and emissions performance. The new cylinder head for example, is made in two parts to accommodate roller rocker arms and to simplify the manufacturing process. The result is a more complex and sophisticated component, the shape of which has been optimised through computer-aided engineering. It is a slim and lightweight design with hydraulic lash adjusters and a larger valve diameter, enhancing output.
Interestingly, temperature is partly controlled with the use of sub-water jackets inside the cylinder block. In addition, the cylinder bores change shape as the engine warms up, controlling thermal expansion and allowing higher temperatures to be reached.
Four Active Control, fluid-filled engine mounts are used in the Lexus ES to suppress noise and vibration at engine speeds below 900rpm.
The Lexus ES 300h marks the first time that a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is offered in the Lexus ES range. It’s powered by a 2,5-litre single VVT-i petrol engine (which develops 118 kW at 5 700 r/min and 213 N.m of torque at 4 500) mated with a 105 kW electric motor fed by a 650 V nickel-metal hydride battery, for a combined output of 151 kW. Uniquely, Lexus ES 350’s petrol engine has four active control engine mounts to suppress noise and vibration at engine speeds below 900rpm.
The Lexus ES 300h is equipped with an eCVT transmission and accelerates to 100 km/h from standstill in 8,5 seconds, but offers a level of combined fuel consumption (5,5 litres/100km) that’s generally associated with thatthose of compact vehicles. The new Lexus ES 300h petrol-electric hybrid has combined-cycle fuel economy of 5.5 litres/100km and CO2 emissions for the Lexus ES 300h are pegged atof 130 grams per kilometre.
The new Lexus ES has two transmissions, both designed for a balance of performance, economy, smoothness and low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
Both Lexus ES transmissions have a gated shift lever with sequential shift mode, Artificial Intelligence (AI) shift control and Lexus Drive Mode Select. The sequential-shift feature allows Lexus ES 250 and Lexus ES 300h drivers to increase driveability for manual-like shifting.
The Lexus ES 300h’s new eCVT system includes two 650-volt AC motor/generators and a compound (double) set of planetary gears. The use of a planetary gear transmission, as opposed to a belt and pulley type, means no energy is lost through slippage and fuel economy is improved.
Lexus ES 300h uses sophisticated software to control the transmission, smoothly adjusting the speed of the petrol engine, generator and drive motor when the vehicle is accelerating or decelerating. The software creates four on-demand driving modes: EV (electric vehicle), ECO, NORMAL and SPORT.
At start-up and at speeds of up to 45km/h, Lexus ES 300h can operate in EV mode and drive on electric power alone – for minimal noise and zero emissions in residential areas and in underground car parks. Lexus ES 300h uses electric power exclusively to reverse.
Drive Mode Select
New Lexus ES features Drive Mode Select (DMS) which allows drivers to fine-tune vehicle behaviour for either dynamic performance or optimal efficiency. The system adjusts the electric power steering (EPS), acceleration feel and air conditioning systems on both the petrol Lexus ES 250 and hybrid Lexus ES 300h.
The three available modes – ECO, SPORT and NORMAL – can be activated with the turn or push of the DMS selector knob. As mentioned, Lexus ES 300h features a unique EV mode, which uses the hybrid battery pack to drive the vehicle at a speed of up to 45km/h.
When ECO is selected, temperature via the climate control system, airflow volume and seat heater activation are managed to achieve optimum efficiency. Instrument meter illumination also turns a tranquil blue to indicate environmental-focused driving performance, and ECO appears on the instrument meter display.
In SPORT mode, acceleration feel and EPS are sharpened and geared towards greater response to driver inputs. This is matched by red meter illumination and a SPORT icon in the meter display for a sportier cabin feel.
NORMAL mode, which balances performance and efficiency, is the default setting upon engine start-up. It can also be activated by pushing the DMS knob down while in ECO or SPORT mode.
Lexus ES Power at a glance:
- Lexus ES 250 – 2,5-litre, 16-valve, DOHC, dual-VVT-i, four-cylinder engine (6-speed auto)
- Lexus ES 250 – 135 kW at 6 000 rpm / 235 Nm at 4 100 rpm
- Lexus ES 250 – 0 to 100 km/h in 9,8 seconds / maximum speed 207 km/h,
- Lexus ES 250 – combined fuel consumption of 8,0 litres/100 km and CO2 of 188 g/km
- Lexus ES 300h – 2,5-litre single VVT-i petrol engine (118 kW at 5 700 rpm / 213 N.m of torque at 4 500) mated with a 105 kW electric motor for a combined output of 151 kW (eCVT)
- Lexus ES 300h – 0 to 100 km/h in 8,5 seconds / maximum speed limited to 180 km/h
- Lexus ES 300h – combined fuel consumption of 5,5 litres/100km and CO2 of 130 g/km
- Drive Mode Select adapts for spirited or more efficient driving behaviour
Top-drawer handling courtesy of a new suspension and steering set-up
The front and rear suspension of the new Lexus ES is designed to deliver a crisp, confident driving experience while retaining that legendary Lexus magic carpet ride.
The front suspension comesis courtesy of MacPherson struts with new counter-wound, barrel-shaped coil springs and a rose-joint mounted stabiliser bar to optimise straight-line stability and enhance steering feel, providing symmetry between the left and right sides of the vehicle.
The improved rear suspension comprises multi or dual-link struts with conical-type coil springs and a ball-joint mounted stabiliser bar, once again to the benefit of comfort and handling. Front and rear damper settings too have been optimised to flatter ride comfort and stability.
The front and rear dampers have likewise been optimised for enhanced and stability.
The new Lexus ES front suspension delivers minimal roll when cornering and the spring-rate has been chosen to optimise ride comfort and stability. The counter-wound coil springs optimise straight-line stability and enhance steering feel, providing symmetry between the left and right sides of the vehicle.
The rear suspension design is also aimed at optimising ride comfort and handling stability. Key features include attention to the geometry and bushings, with a new suspension-arm arrangement for increased vehicle stability during acceleration and braking.
The lightweight suspension design saves on sprung and unsprung weight to optimise fuel economy and increase handling stability.
When you talk handling, however, you can’t ignore the steering system and in this department the new Lexus ES doesn’t disappoint. It features a more refined speed-sensitive Electric Power-assisted Steering (EPS) system for optimum assistance at all speeds.
The amount of assistance increases with wheel turning angle, particularly at low road speeds. EPS saves energy in high-speed and straight-line driving as virtually no electric current is required. Direct steering feel has been enhanced by increasing the rigidity of the steering wheel support frame.
The new Lexus ES has a highly efficient large-ratio steering reduction gear of 14.8:1. It also has 2.9 steering wheel turns lock to lock and a turning circle of 11.4 metres (kerb to kerb). The wheel gear itself is made from high-strength, low-friction and low-abrasion resin material, to increase package efficiency and reduce weight.
The Lexus ES steering system has bespoke rack and pinion gear. The steering gear housing is made of aluminium, to reduce weight. Both the teeth specification and the rack and pinion gear have been optimised to suit electric power assistance.
Lexus ES features a tilt and telescopically adjustable steering column, with 40mm of tilt range and 40mm of telescopic range.
Lexus ES suspension and steering systems at a glance:
- MacPherson strut front suspension with counter-wound front springs for improved handling and enhanced steering feel.
- A new dual-link rear suspension system to help provide increased straight-line stability and control.
- An improved speed-sensitive Electric Power Steering (EPS) system for smoother, more accurate feel and greater feedback.
Interior draws on latest L-Finesse design
The modern interior of the Lexus ES has been designed to provide a sense of both openness and security – driven by Lexus’ unique L-Finesse design philosophy.
Continuing the design themes that debuted on CT 200h, GS and IS, the interior of Lexus ES has been designed with ergonomics in mind and a focus on the driver, with separate display and operation zones. As a result, sightlines and visibility are improved over previous generations, controls are logically placed, and new cabin materials display a high level of craftsmanship.
The long, layered look of the instrument panel places the main information displays directly in the driver’s line of sight, via a standard eight-inch satellite navigation screenand complementary 3.5-inch multi-information display in the instrument panel.
The new dash panel also marries traditional techniques with craftsmanship for a high quality finish, including a hand-stitched dash panel and a high tech self-illuminating LED analogue clock.
The comprehensive operation zone is located below the display zone and houses steering wheel-mounted controls, centre instrument stack, audio and climate controls, gear lever and Lexus’ award winning Remote Touch System (operates on a similar principle to a computer mouse).
Adopted from GS, the Lexus ES steering wheel features a three-spoke 380mm design and houses audio, phone, display and mode buttons for ease of access. The steering wheel angle has been lowered over previous generations to facilitate large steering inputs without the need for the driver to over-reach.
Innovative ambient lighting is linked to the entry and exit sequence and with the drive modes. Upon entry, the LED light tube ambient cabin lighting is bright before dimming as the driver’s door is closed. Lighting is then cued to respond as the driver starts the engine, with strip lighting along the dash and door panels once again illuminating and dimming as the driver pulls away. Instrument panel lighting is also teamed with the drive mode select function, with blue instrument lighting signifying ECO, Normal or EV driving modes, while Sport mode is highlighted by red instrument panel lighting.
Cabin space and seating
Fact: the new Lexus ES possesses greater leg, head and shoulder room than any of its price competitors.
Up front, occupants are treated to 953.4mm of headroom, 1463.6mm of shoulder room, 1392mm of hip room and 1065mm of leg room – the latter better than many E segment vehicles.
Rear seat occupants will be pampered with 953.3mm of headroom, 1396.9mm of shoulder room, 1365.9mm of hip room and 1015.4mm of leg room. Of course, the adoption of a front-wheel drive configuration, which removes the need for a transmission tunnel, further liberates space in the rear occupant area for maximum comfort and a feeling of openness.
All seating has been designed to offer greater levels of comfort over long distances. To achieve this, engineers increased pelvic support and seat strapping to reduce misalignment of the upper body and disperse seating pressure across the entire seat, lessening occupant fatigue. Driver comfort has also been enhanced with a reduction in steering column angle to 22 degrees, along with the adoption of Lexus’ new steering wheel.
All areas that come in contact with occupants, such as centre console lid and arm rests, feature high levels of padding for enhanced comfort. Attention to detail also includes the way in which occupants exit and enter the vehicle, with wide door apertures and curved door trims to allow more swing room for occupants’ feet.
The luxurious and spacious interior of the premium Lexus ES sedan is available in a range of different trim and colour options to suit individual styles and tastes. Two embossed, leather-accented interior colours are available: black and ivory. Each provides a distinctive appearance that delivers a feeling of personalised luxury, enhanced by the tasteful application of piano black accents on the dashboard and centre console.
Metallic ornamentation is applied to the dash, centre console and front and rear door elements on all models.
Luggage space is a generous 490 litres for Lexus ES 350 while the hybrid offers 425 litres. Both variants have a full size spare tyre.
Dual-zone climate control
All Lexus ES air conditioner systems feature Nanoe™ technology, which adds moisture to ions passed into the cabin to create a gentler atmosphere for occupants. It works by coating negatively microscopic Nanoe™ ions with approximately 1,000 times greater water content than regular air ions via a special element. Both the Lexus ES 250 and the 300h feature two-zone climate control.
All new Lexus ES models feature a highly specified satellite navigation and information system as standard. Comprising a high- resolution, eight-inch, colour display, paired with the award-winning Lexus remote touch system, the navigation and multimedia system allows for the incorporationadoption of satellite navigation and a reverse camera as standard equipment.
The combination of the eight-inch display screen and Lexus Remote Touch system facilitates theallows for display and control of audio, climate control, vehicle settings, satellite navigation, reverse camera and parking sensor information.
All Lexus ES models also feature a high resolution 3.5-inch TFT display in the centre of the instrument panel. The 3.5-inch screen is divided into five distinct areas: the upper displaying drive conditions such as cruise control and speed; outside temperature, fuel consumption and cruising range are immediately below; while the final three areas show gear position, drive mode and trip information. A display button mounted on the steering wheel allows the information displayed to be customized.
Other standard items across the range include advanced Bluetoothconnectivity, voice recognition capabilities as well as iPod and USB usability.
The new Lexus comes with a veritable smorgasbord of standard comfort and convenience items. For a comprehensive list of all of these features, please refer to the attached specification list. Here, though is just a brief outline of some of the more outstanding features:
- Embossed leather upholstery in black or ivory
- Electrically- controlled and heated front seats with driver’s memory
- Steering switches for audio, display, voice recognition, telephone and cruise control
- Dual-zone climate control
- Customised illumination
- Electrochromatic rearview mirror
- Electro Multi-visioninformation Display with SatNav, 8-speaker sound system and reverse camera
- Sonar Park Distance Control System clearance and back sonar system (works in conjunction with the reverse camera)
- Lexus Remote Touch system
- Bluetooth and USB port
- Moonroof (tilt and slide)
- Electric mirrors (heated and auto retractable with memory)
Lexus ESpecially safe
Standard active safety features include Vehicle Stability Control with electric power-steering cooperative control (VSC+), traction control, ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and emergency brake signal. Also included in the standard package is the tyre-inflation pressure warning system and Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Lane Change Assist.
The Blind Spot Monitor helps detect vehicles in side blind spots and notifies the driver of another vehicle in the lane by illuminating an amber symbol in the applicable outside mirror. When the indicator is engaged and the BSM detects that another vehicle is in the adjacent lane, the illuminated BSM symbol in the mirror starts flashing.
The Lexus ES 300h come with the added active features of Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and electronically controlled brake system (ECB)
On the passive safety front, all models have 10 SRS airbags as standard equipment including driver and front passenger knee and front air bags, as well as front and rear seat-mounted side and curtain airbags. Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats are designed to limit excessive head movement in certain rear-end collisions helping to decrease the severity of whiplash-type injuries.
Lexus ES safety kit at a glance:
- VSC and +
- Traction Control
- ABS with EBD, Brake Assist and emergency brake signal
- Tyre inflation pressure warning system
- Blind Spot MonitorMonitoring with Lane Change Assist
- Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) – Lexus ES 300h
- Electronically Controlled Brake System (ECB)
- 10 SRS airbags
- ISOFIX child-seat anchorages
- Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats
Lexus ES 250 Pricing, Warranty and Maintenance South Africa
Lexus ES 250 – R435 900
Lexus ES 300h –R515 000