Lexus ES300h Review

This is a proper junior luxury saloon, and stop it, the joke is getting tired now

By Shahzad Sheikh

Click below now to watch my video Lexus ES300h Review

This is the all-new 7th generation Lexus ES – and the ES is an important car accounting for 70% of Lexus saloon car sales here in the region.

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The new car is longer and lower and boasts that amazing front end with styling inspired by the new LS saloon. There are lots of sharp lines transitioning into a fluid flow of shapes along the flanks into again an angular rear end. It’s a good looking car and a little distinctive from its predecessor.

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Prices start at AED195,000 ($53k) for the ES250 Platinum which has a 2.5 four-cylinder unit producing 204bhp. Then the ES350 F-Sport at AED230,000 ($63k) and ES350 Platinum for AED245,000 ($67k). They come with a 300bhp 3.5-litre V6. All cars come with an 8-speed auto.

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Our car is the ES 300h – a hybrid – in Platinum spec at AED250,000 ($68k) – which actually makes it the flagship of the range in terms of pricing at least. It gets a 2.5 four-cylinder with two electric motors putting out a total of 215bhp.

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The battery pack under the rear seats does put the weight up to 1700kg, but it will accelerate to 100kph in just 8 seconds. More importantly, it uses 80% less fuel than the petrol version – and Lexus claims a potential range of 1200km. I’d love to put that to the test.

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It is of course a very practical car with a 473-litre boot. But in the rear passenger compartment, it’s limo-like. You can really recline and in fact sit on the passenger side and there are a couple of buttons to slide the front passenger seat forward for more space.

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There are climate control buttons in the centre armrests and the Climate Concierge ensures that all the passengers are individually catered for. Though from the driver’s seat I did feel it occasionally get a little confused and either heat me up too much or cool me down too much. Overall though a very powerful A/C as you’d expect.

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So now that we’re in the front – it’s a very nice, refined and luxurious place to be. I love the centre cubby lid that somehow opens from both sides thanks to some kind of magic hinges. The control knobs on either side of the instrument panel hood are cool – but having a traction control button in such a prominent position in a car like this is a bit pointless – remember it’s front-wheel drive.

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The stereo is pretty sensational and infotainment works well, but I actually preferred the old toggle interface rather than the touch pad in this car. It was imprecise and very hard to control, especially on the move, and got  rather annoying on occasion. I guess an owner might have more time to get used to it.

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On the go, it’s all about ride comfort and refinement and it scores very highly in these areas. But performance is more than adequate, you hardly notice that it’s a CVT and the handling is remarkably good for a car you probably dismissed as being not at all sporty. It’s actually a satisfying steer. But more crucially, it’s an easy and cosseting car to get around in.

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Overall then a great step up from the previous ES. Well engineered, luxurious, refined and good to drive. I would happily recommend it this car except for two things – the Toyota Avalon that shares this platform, is just as good and cheaper (though not yet available as a hybrid) and all those jokes about you being an Uber driver will get uber-annoying in a very short time indeed – I got my fair share in just the few days I had the car.

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