ES 300h
ES 300h

Lexus ES 300h: Lean-burn luxury

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What is it?

Lexus is an upmarket Japanese car company that competes with the big-name Germans and Brits in many different models.

It’s not completely successful in this lofty ambition so relies on very high levels of quality materials inside and out.

While Lexus may not have had great success in getting into the minds of the public, in the prestige field it’s very well regarding in engineering.

The little ‘h’ in Lexus ES 300h tells us it’s a hybrid. Lexus and its parent company Toyota are past masters at petrol-electric hybrids, with a history stretching back well over 20 years.

They continue to add more performance, at the same time reducing emissions.

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What’s it cost?

We particularly like the spindle grille in this model.

Some of the early efforts of Lexus at this fascinating shape just didn’t work to our eyes, but this one is brilliant.

The front of the ES 300h spreads out far and wide visually.

Prices start from $61,620 for the ES 250 Luxury, with standard 2.5-litre engine.

The hybrid gets going at $63,550 for the ES 300h Luxury. An enhancement pack takes the figure to $71,810, while our test vehicle, the ES 300h Sports Luxury with the lot is priced from $78,180 plus on-roads.

Photographs don’t do justice to the styling so you may care to pop into a dealership and see for yourself.

The lower edge of the window line swoops up at the rear, and meets a downward swoop of the roofline.

The lower area of the rear doors also parallels this, moving up from their rear edge to meet the tail lights, then continues into the boot lid for a few centimetres.

The upgraded 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment has proprietary sat-nav, DAB+ digital radio, Apple and Android smartphone mirroring and Lexus Connected Services.

The Sports Luxury has a 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system.

Sound quality is excellent and we really enjoyed the feeling of luxury inside the cabin.

It’s even more enjoyable in the very quiet interior of the Lexus than in lesser cars with a similar system.

The Lexus ES300h received a five-star ANCAP rating when tested in 2018.

This latest update includes emergency steering assistance for collision avoidance.

Active assistance includes lane-departure and blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking support brake with vehicle and object detection.

Should you still manage to get involved in a crash it has 10 airbags including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger.

There are chest and head ‘bags across its two seating rows.

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What’s it go like?

This is where it gets really interesting.

The Lexus ES 300h has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle high-compression petrol engine producing 131kW, as well as an 88kW electric

Peak torque is 221Nm on the petrol unit and 202Nm on the electric motor.

The petrol doesn’t get to its torque peak until it reaches 3600 rpm, the electric unit has its torque from one rpm — yes, one rpm.

The Lexus has its front wheels driven through a continuously variable transmission.

Acceleration is instantaneous, you move the accelerator and the Lexus gets up and goes.

This is one of the best features of all electric vehicles, be they hybrid or full electric.

It doesn’t slow as quickly as we like when we backed off on the pedal.

But you do become to this after a period of time at the wheel.

Regular drivers of the any vehicle with electric power soon become happy with this.

Fuel consumption is impressively low, sitting around 4.9L/100km for virtually all of the 663km we covered.

That’s just 1.0L/100km over the official figure.

The ES’s ride and handling favours the typical buyer in being comfortable rather than sporty.

It handles bends well and on the few times we tested it close to its limits around corners on our ‘official’ test route, it responded well and gave us good feedback.

This is a full-on luxury vehicle with the interior trim made from high-class materials.

It’s finished in three different coloured materials, which is a major improvement on the endless black-on-black that we see in so many cars, even upmarket one.

This is a vehicle aimed at giving all occupants a comfortable life.

Even the rear seats can be inclined and there’s a three-zone air conditioning.

There’s good legroom in the back, though if there’s a long-legged driver it may be necessary to talk to them and do a deal on space.

Either that or sit the shortest rear passenger behind them. Your call.

The boot is generously long but the low set nature of this semi-sporty sedan makes it rather low in height.

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What we like?

  • Very quiet interior
  • Cabin colour variation
  • Acceleration instantaneous
  • Spindle grille design
  • 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio
  • Real feeling of luxury inside
  • Fuel consumption impressively low

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What we don’t like?

  • Rather low in height
  • Ride and handling comfortable rather than sporty

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The bottom line?

Lexus ES300h is a beautifully designed and built Japanese machine from a company that has specialised in in hybrid and electric vehicles for many decades.

It’s very much deserving of a place on your shopping list if you want to minimise climate change, and also enjoy peaceful motoring.

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CHECKOUT: Lexus LFA — a star then, a star again

CHECKOUT: Lexus UX: Familiar territory

Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury, priced from $78,180
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 9/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 8/10

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