LEXUS ES300h SPORTS LUXURY


The ES300 is one of just two sedans that Lexus continues to sell. A four-door sedan, it’s
based on the same platform as the Toyota Camry, but you’d never know. This one has a
hybrid under the bonnet.

It comes with power-operated everything and a back seat that would make Emirates first
class proud.

STYLING
Think sporty but with chrome bits. Lexus expects 85 per cent of customers will opt for the
hybrid.

Leather-accented upholstery, bamboo trim inlays, tri-zone climate control with Nanoe X,
heated steering wheel, power adjust steering, heated 10-way power adjust front seats,
along with power recline and heated rear outboard seats, side door blinds and push-button
rear sunshade.

There’s also keyless entry and start, a smallish moonroof, self-dimming interior mirror,
LED headlights, auto high-beam, adaptive cruise control, head-up display and road sign
recognition and powered bootlid.

The reclining rear seats also feature a centre armrest housing the rear control panel,
allowing rear occupants to adjust the rear sunblind, seat heating and angle and audio
system.

The ES is covered by a four-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with servicing capped at
$495 for the three services at an interval of 12 months or 15,000km.

INFOTAINMENT
There’s a huge 12.3-inch touchscreen, with DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation with
voice control, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
compatibility — plus twin-front and twin-rear USB-C ports.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The petrol engine in the ES produces 131kW of power at 5700 rpm and 221Nm of torque,
from 3600-5200 rpm.

But that’s only half the story, because the electric motor adds another 88kW and 202Nm,
although the total is pegged at 160kW (no details of torque).

The self-charging system drives the front wheels through a CVT-style continuously
variable transmission, but one that offers various drive modes as well as the ability to
change gears sequentially — with six steps or gears to play with.

SAFETY
Safety is five-star and comprises 10 airbags, pop-up bonnet, auto emergency braking with
pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, intersection assist with turn assist and
emergency steering assist.

There’s also lane trace assist, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and parking
support brake with parking sensors.
Lexus Connected Services includes SOS call, automatic collision notification and stolen
vehicle tracking.

DRIVING
The hybrid is front-wheel drive. This model rides on conservatively styled 18-inch alloys
with 235/45 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber, and a space saver tucked in the boot.

The dash from 0 to 100km/h takes a claimed 8.9 seconds, while top speed is limited to a
measly 180km/h.

Two funny little handlebar-like controls above the instrument cluster provide access to
traction off as well as Eco, Normal and Sport modes. No wonder my fingers couldn’t find a
sport button.

The dash itself features a single large analogue-style speedometer that is in reality digital,
able to display speed digitally prominently in the centre, where it’s ringed by a tacho.

A smaller screen to the left displays other useful information, including fuel consumption,
while two fair dinkum analogue gauges to the right are devoted to fuel and temperature.

To the left of the instrument cluster is the enormous 12.3-inch touchscreen, with an
analogue clock nestled to the right (a distinguishing feature of the brand).

The cabin of our test vehicle was finished in a combination of tan and grey tones, with
comfy perforated leather seats.

Down in the centre console is our old friend the trackpad, useful for just about nothing —
certainly on the move.
A wireless mobile phone charge pad hides in the console box.

I remember driving the previous ES at launch in 2013 when the hybrid was introduced. It
was huge inside, with loads of rear legroom and used hardly any fuel, making it perfect for
hire car duties. The current model is even larger, but for some reason doesn’t seem to
have the same amount of rear legroom. Maybe it’s an illusion, maybe they made the boot
bigger instead.

Again, it’s all there — it just doesn’t feel as opulent as it once did and the hybrid powertrain
and rasp from regenerative braking is not conducive to the library quiet interior for which
Lexus is noted.

If active noise cancellation is present, who switched it off?

At the same time, it’s undeniably big, classy and comfortable, and doesn’t use much fuel.
You’ve gotta like that.

For some reason, Sport Luxury misses out on the adaptive suspension from F Sport, even
though it is positioned at the top of the range.

Instead, it gets a single-setting passive system, skewed towards better handling.

Push the start button and the engine doesn’t spring to life. The system becomes ready
which means you’re good to go.

Compared to a Euro it’s a disappointing start, but one that is repaid in spades when it is
time to fill up. Hybrid rules.

Once underway, performance is adequate, but far from exciting, with the usual noise,
vibration and harshness that goes with a hybrid.

It feels quicker off the line than the figures suggest, but you need to stick the boot in when
it comes to hills and overtaking, and even then it’s not convincing.

The ride is compliant, with a big car feel most of the time, like Falcons and Commodores of
old, but becomes harsh and unforgiving when it encounters potholes and particularly
speed humps.

Switched to manual mode and using the paddles to change gear, however, the car
emerges from behind the economical, emissions-friendly facade.

It sits flat and corners impeccably, with plenty of grip and no hint of breakaway, no mean
feat considering the weight of the battery pack under the rear seat.

On another note, the navigation is slow to respond and locked out once the car is moving,
and good luck trying to change the map orientation and keep it there.

Likewise, try cancelling a destination. We couldn’t do it from the screen. It was necessary
to use the good for nothing trackpad (oh, it is good for something).

With fuel consumption rated at 4.8L/100km, we were getting 5.2 from the 50-litre tank after
more than 540km — and it prefers 95 premium unleaded.

SUMMING UP
I was getting ready to hate this car. Then, on the spur of the moment, I decided to go the
long way around — to get off the motorway and give it some.

In manual mode, changing gears using the steering wheel paddles, the car emerges from
the shadows, sitting flat and very much in control through corners, with nary a hint of
breakaway.
Brakes are convincing too.
Gets my vote.

RATINGS:
Looks: 8/10
Performance: 7.5/10
Safety: 8/10
Thirst: 8.5/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 7.5/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 8/10
Overall: 7.9/10

AT A GLANCE
MODEL RANGE
ES 300h Luxury: $63,550
ES 300h F Sport: $72,930
ES 300h Sports Luxury: $78,180
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury 2.5-litre hybrid petrol-electric, eCVT,
FWD)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.5 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 160 kW @ 5700 rpm (combined)
Maximum Torque: 221 Nm @ 3600 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 109 g/km

DRIVELINE: e-CVT continuously variable automatic, front-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4975 mm
Wheelbase: 2870 mm
Width: 1865 mm
Height: 1445 mm
Turning Circle: 11.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1740 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

BRAKES:
Front: 305 x 28 mm ventilated disc
Rear: 281 x 12mm solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Four years / 100,000 kilometres

About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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