REVIEW | ES 300h SE proves that Lexus can throw punches with Germany's finest

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Lexus' new ES arrived in South Africa in the closing stages of 2021.

The sedan is the entry-level in Lexus' local portfolio, with three derivatives making up the line-up.

The new ES is headlined by two hybrid models with a claimed fuel return of 4.6-litres/100km.

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A few carmakers pop into mind when it comes to automotive luxury, notably Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Many of us are familiar with these names, and they often make up the detail when we talk about dream cars.

But almost hidden from the mainstream is Lexus. The Japanese automotive brand has been setting new standards for decades on end, and for the last three, the ES sedan has been emphasising the Eastern automaker's capabilities. The car, the 'smallest' of Lexus' sedans after the IS and LS, is kitted to the brim with a host of technical features, wrapped in a package that could put the very best from Germany to shame.

Coming into 2022, though, Lexus South Africa launched the new ES in the country, with the car, now in its seventh generation, a big leap over the model it replaces. The hybrid model, the ES 300h, headlines the new line-up and two derivatives comprising it. We spent time with the headlining SE model and came away mighty impressed by what this new sedan offers.

Lexus ES
2022 Lexus ES 300h SE

Well-appointed interior

Lexus has always been a leader in vehicle interiors, and it's no different with the latest generation ES. Taking design cues from the Lexus Future Interior concept, Lexus went all out in gifting its sedan as best an interior possible. Part of the cabin enhancements includes a high-resolution 12.3-inch touchscreen. This screen looks very similar to the previous generation's, but Lexus says it is different and has been brought forward to ease usability.

The rest of the dials and buttons are within reach, and drivers would not need to take their eyes off the road for too long. Lexus continues with the mousepad with which users can access the car's features, but it is still cumbersome and not as fluid-to-use as devices found in its German rivals. The cabin is also decked in a new Mauve trim to differentiate it from the EX grade.

READ: 'More spacious, quieter and safer' - updated Lexus ES now available in South Africa

These items are standard across the ES range:
- keyless smart entry
- a moonroof
- heated front seats
- twin-front and twin-rear USB-C ports
- DAB+ digital radio
- Mark Levinson 17 Speaker audio system (SE) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
Lexus ES
2022 Lexus ES 300h SE

An engaging drive

The front-wheel drive ES 300h is powered by Lexus' 2.5-litre petrol engine, mated to a hybrid system. The electric motor is more compact and power-dense, allowing the car to run on battery power alone in bumper-to-bumper traffic and when coasting. In all, the powertrain offers a total system output of 160kW. 

Pushing on, the ES 300 h's cabin has been made quieter, omitting exterior sounds from intruding into the cabin. It adds to the ES' ambience and further enhances the feeling of sitting in pure opulence and luxury.

Though the fuel claim of 4.6-litre/100km is commendable, real-world conditions proved that the figure is closer to the 6.0-litre mark.

Lexus ES
2022 Lexus ES 300h SE

In summary

Since 1989, the Lexus ES has captivated minds and won customers over. And with every passing generation, the sedan became better and improved over what was. But more, the ES proves that Japanese luxury can run with the best of what Germany has to offer at a more affordable price without omitting any of the niceties or technical features.

The Lexus ES 300h SE is a fine example of what Lexus can offer, given that the offering is on its entry-level saloon. Lexus spared no expense in making the ES a viable alternative to what its German counterparts have to offer, and it shows in its craftsmanship.

Lexus ES pricing

250 EX - R741 500

300h EX - R797 600

300h SE - R976 900

The ES comes standard with a seven-year or 105 000km maintenance plan, an eight-year or 195 000km hybrid battery warranty, and a seven-year or 105 000km vehicle warranty.


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