Luxury and affordable are words not often spoken in the same breath. The general consensus is that if it’s luxurious, it has to be expensive.
Manufacturers, especially the Germans, possess artillery of luxury sedans that appeal to the ‘I want more’ consumer.
Lexus, Toyota’s luxury arm, has pieced together such a calibrated formula with their new ES250 and 300 range that it rubs shoulders with the likes of Bavaria, Ingolstadt, and Wolfsburg’s finest examples.
There are currently three models in the line-up – one petrol and two hybrid derivatives – each accompanied by a competitive price tag compared to the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The factor most impressive about the range is the number of standard features you get from entry to top spec.
Lexus South Africa notes a number of driver support and standard safety features on the 300h EX that includes: a brake syncronised Pre-Crash System, Tyre Pressure Monitor, Park Distance Control, ABS, Blind Spot Monitor, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Hill Assist Control, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, and Lane Keeping System. Reversing is executed with the greatest of ease via a rear monitor with a smart camera.
Just to give a bit of comparative perspective to its direct rivals, the base ES has a starting price of R640 400 – this compared to R873 000 for the BMW 5 Series and R885 000 for Audi's A6. The Volkswagen Arteon, priced at R 752 600, also falls some way short. Even the mid-spec ES derivative, kitted with a host of additional features, is well-received at R774 300.
The model driven on launch was the 300h EX and slots between the entry-level 250 EX, and flagship 300h SE, priced at R 774 300. If appearances are anything to go by, then the ES does the job superbly, sitting pretty on a set of 17-inch alloys while the signature Chrome Spindle grille is such a mesmerising feature to look at. You wouldn’t know what spec this was with the ‘Hybrid’ and blue-shaded Lexus badge, and ES300h nametag being the only giveaways, such is the intricacy and build craftsmanship honed into these cars.
Sonic Titanium, White Quartz, Sparkling Meteor, Ice Ecru, Platinum Silver, Black, Morello Red, Mercury Grey, and Olive Green are the nine colour options available.
It is by no means a small sedan, measuring 4975mm in length to be exact, and the amount of space it offers is downright impressive. With a boot capacity of 420L, there is more than enough room to swing a cat while on the inside it is sophistication personified. Front and rear occupants are spoiled for legroom space, and with Lexus Connect high-speed on-board Wi-Fi connectivity, you never miss a beat.
The finishes on the inside are of very good quality. Everything from the shift lever, centre console, seats, and the three-spoke multi-function steering wheel is covered in leather while the sunroof is a standard option across the range. The analogue clock is another signature and customers can choose between three interior colour options as well. You can also play some tunes or listen to the radio through Lexus’ Premium Auto 10-speaker system.
Image: Lexus Newsroom
An often overlooked option
For starters, you can literally hear an ant whispering inside the cabin thanks to the car's virtually silent, and efficient self-charging, hybrid electric system. This system, together with a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine, produces 160kW of power.
The often-used phrase ‘It drives like a dream’ really comes to fruition here. You can keep track of the hybrid system via an expansive eight-inch centre display, which also enables Apple Car Play and Android Auto connectivity. The sometimes sensitive touchpad on the centre console is your navigator through various scroll-through options just making everything that much easier, and essentially, allowing you to keep more of the focus on the road.
While the ES300 hybrid is a superb car in its own right, the fact that Lexus is often overlooked as a luxury option for buyers does not tell the story. The car brings something different to the table, holding the same stature as its rivals, but available at R100 000 less. Lexus also has the IS in its range, spreading the quality and choice evenly.
For R12 000 a month on Lexus FutureDrive finance, this is money well-spent on the quality you can get anywhere else.
Each model comes standard with a 7-year or 105 000km Maintenance plan and a 7-year or 105 000km peace of mind Warranty.
ES 250 EX – R640 400
ES 300h EX – 774 300
ES 300h SE – R910 900