When you think Lexus, you think old man’s car. Well, that’s all changing… and in a big way.
Lexus has gone to town on dropping that image with sharp styling, stacks of luxury and the option to ‘sportify’ your car with an F-Sport package.
Enter stage left the Lexus ES300h. I hopped into the car thinking it was a Toyota Camry with some fancy leather and a stack of features. Turns out I couldn’t be more wrong.
The ES is built on a different platform to Camry and the engineering team specifically wanted to bring an element of sportiness into the offering with sharper handling, but the same trademark Lexus plush ride quality.
Over Christmas I had the chance to spend some time in the ES300h over a couple of highway runs and getting around the city. It wasn’t a huge amount of time, but it was enough to appreciate just how much Lexus has crammed into this car.
Pricing kicks off from just under $60,000 plus on-road costs and it seems like the bargain of the century when you look at the car you get.
The ES300h comes with a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that teams with an 88kW hybrid drivetrain to produce 160kW of power and 221Nm of torque – it’s good enough for a lazy 0-100km/h sprint of 8.9 seconds.
It’s more the efficiency where this package really shines – 4.6L/100km. It’s an incredible figure for a car this size.
But what impressed me the most was something entirely random. The air conditioning. We had some seriously hot days in Melbourne over Christmas and on one of them – north of 40 degrees – I had to spend some time in the car in the city.
In addition to the tinted windows and privacy glass, the air conditioner managed to cool the cabin so much that it was getting cold. Toyota seems to do air conditioners better than anybody else, so it was good to see this carried over to the hybrid products.
Ride quality out on the open roads is excellent with the chassis erring on the side of comfort as opposed to sportiness. You can throw it around a little if you’re so inclined, but it’s happier being ferried about wafting passengers in luxury.
Inside the cabin there is a stellar Mark Levinson 17-speaker sound system and every feature under the sun. There’s heating and cooling for the seats, along with a massage function and a power blind for the rear window.
The only thing that really lets the whole thing down and would stop me from buying one – it’s the infotainment system. It’s painful to use and lacks any ingenuity. Using it on the move is hard and the mousepad style system for navigating the menus is inaccurate and fiddly.
If Lexus was to invest in a decent infotainment system, they could literally own this segment, because they’ve done everything else to a high level of style, function and form.
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