Lexus ES 300h review New Zealand
Just because hybrid luxury sedans have an air of maturity about them, it doesn’t mean that they should be sedate or worse still, boring. To prove this point, Lexus New Zealand let me loose in their new ES 300h, a sharp looking sedan that oozes upmarket luxury yet comes with a very adventurous spirit.
First look at the new ES 300h and you can tell it’s a little bit different. Already in its 7th model generation and 4th Generation hybridness, the Lexus team have had a lot of history to draw upon and it appears that they have used this experience wisely.
The (now) trademark grille has been modernised with verticle spindles that splay outward from the central Lexus badge, along with an increased sense of drama around the nose. Bi-beam LED headlights, LED DRL’s, directional indicators and aerodynamic angles all adds to the progressive effect while the integrated rear spoiler and stunning alloys complete its kerbside appeal.
My model came in Ice Ecru, it’s a clean colour that reminds me of champagne and in many ways eludes to the fizz that comes from being behind the wheel.
Under the bonnet is a 2.5L 16v engine combined with a Ni-Mh driven motor. They deliver up 160kW, 0-100kph in 8.9s and 180kph top speed, while sipping fuel at 4.6L/100km and emitting CO2 at a mere 104g/km. These numbers are impressive enough but when you turn the drive mode dial to Sport this new ES really lets you play. The power is delivered sweetly and in more than ample amounts, but it’s the way the ES handles that made my eyebrows raise. Sure it’s a good handler, this is something that is becoming more and more prevalent with the low down weight dispersion and centre of gravity that comes with Lexus’s modern hybrids but the ES behaved more like a rear wheel drive when pushed, totally gratifying.
Cornering is fun and dare I say it, predictable, while the ‘off the line’ power felt more linear rather than the normal front wheel drag I was expecting, to be straight, my confidence levels remained high throughout the enthusiastic parts of my drive. Toning things down and enabling adaptive cruise gave me plenty of time to admire the luxurious interior.
They say do something the scares you everyday day and the ivory white Nulux furniture would do just that. It is both a statement in purity and luxury but also terrifying for those of us with exceedingly grubby kids. Front and rear seats are heated and the rear armrest drops down to reveal cup holders and an entertainment control panel – something that my son found very adult infuriating.
The dashboard design is bright and refreshing. The matte bamboo trim fits in nicely with the light theme and there’s a lot of emphasis around the driver having more cocooned control while front and rear passengers have more space to relax and breathe. The Head-up display is clear and simple but it’s hard to take your eyes away from the large and informative 12.3-inch infotainment system and 7-inch Optitron digital instrument cluster. Mark Levinson provides the sound via a 10-speaker system and there’s SatNav to guide you where you want to go. The ES’s centre console has a great new phone feature (over and above wireless charging), pop up a stowage cover and there’s a slot to stand your smartphone up in – well I liked it anyway.
Driver’s aids are of course, excessive. Everything from traffic sign recognition to lane tracing assist. It comes with 10 airbags to keep all occupants safe and a pre-crash safety system to alert you of any potential dangers ahead. To top this all off, the ES 300h has three layers of inner silencing material to remove you from the hustle and bustle of the world outside your window – ahhh.
The ES 300h offers an elegantly refined drive that can invigorate when called upon. It offers Lexus sedan luxury and oodles of driver (and passenger for that matter) comfort – simply put, it’s a LuxES.