Take a magic carpet ride on Lexus’ blissful new ES

Bobby Cheetham

LEXUS South Africa launched the sixth-generation ES in the Western Cape this week and it features a brand new body design built on a new platform with zero carry-over from the outgoing model.

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 ES 250 is powered by a 2.5-litre, 16-valve, DOHC, four-cylinder engine employing dual-VVT-i technology.

The ES 250’s peak output figures are 135kW at 6000rpm and 235Nm of torque at 4100rpm, and the engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Lexus claim the ES 250 will sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 9.8 seconds and achieve a maximum speed of 207km/h, with a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.0 litres/100km and a CO2emissions figure of 188g/km.

The ES 300h marks the first time that a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is offered in the ES range.

It’s powered by a 2.5-litre single VVT-i petrol engine (which develops 118kW at 5700rpm and 213Nm of torque at 4500rpm).

The engine is mated with a 105kW electric motor fed by a 650V nickel-metal hydride battery, for a combined output of 151kW.

The ES 300h is equipped with an eCVT transmission and it accelerates to 100km/h from standstill in 8.5 seconds. But it offers a level of combined fuel consumption (5.5 litres/100km) that’s generally associated with compact vehicles. The new Lexus ES 300h petrol-electric hybrid has combined-cycle fuel economy of 5.5 litres/ 100km and CO2emissions for the ES 300h are pegged at 130 grams per kilometre.

Unfortunately the hybrid was not available to drive.

What is most impressive is how quiet the ES is on the road.

Whispering along at the legal limit, my driving partner opened a packet of Simba chips and it sounded like someone doing just that during a tense moment in a thriller at the movie house!

Adoption of special sound-proofing materials and sealing insulate occupants from the outside world – sheer bliss!

Driving the ES on the twisty mountain roads in the Western Cape was a rewarding experience.

Excellent handling and general driving is what one has come to expect from Lexus and the ES lives up to this expectation.

The front and rear suspension is designed to deliver a crisp, confident driving experience while retaining that legendary Lexus magic carpet ride.

The front suspension comes 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 enhanced 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.

This once again is all to the good for 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 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 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 interior of ES has been designed with ergonomics in mind and a focus on the driver, with separate display and operation zones.

As a result, a choice of two power sources – four-cylinder petrol and Lexus Hybrid Drive petrol-electric hybrid, 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 screen and 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. It houses steering wheel-mounted controls, centre instrument stack, audio and climate controls, the gear lever and Lexus’ award-winning Remote Touch System (operates on a similar principle to a computer mouse).

Adopted from GS, the 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.

All this makes the Lexus ES one of the better cars on the road today!

As we have often said before, quality does not come cheap.

Priced at R435900 for the ES and R515000 for the ES 300h, the car is worth looking at.

As with the rest of the Lexus range, all models are covered by a four-year/ 100000km warranty. On the maintenance front, the ES 250 and 300h come standard with the Lexus “Distance Plan Plus”.

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