The classy Lexus ES is back in Australia, bigger and better than ever

The classy Lexus ES is back in Australia, bigger and better than ever

Lexus has re-launched its ES Line of luxury mid-sized sedans after a break of seven years.

The ES 300 was one of the pioneers of Lexus when it arrived in Australia in 1991, two years after the Japanese prestige brand was launched with the ambitious plan to take on the upmarket German car marques.

While the first Lexus model to come here, the luxury LS400 limousine, made an immediate impression as it was an all-new model. However, the smaller and cheaper Lexus ES suffered from comparisons with the Toyota Camry on which it was based, but which cost around half the price.

2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports LuxuryTwo further ES generations followed, in 1997 and 2001, but then, following a decision in the Japanese head office to cease production of right-hand drive variants, it became unavailable. Now it’s back.

The 2013 Lexus ES Line is an all-new model built on its own unique platform.

Frontal styling is distinctly Lexus with its aggressive arrow-head spindle grille. The rear is more conservative. The ES 300h hybrid gets a tiny bootlid spoiler to distinguish it from the ES 350.

2013 Lexus ES 300h Luxury
We loved the dashboard styling with its wide tapered ends. Controls are well-placed and easy to use with the exception of the ‘mouse’ controller that we find a bit too light in its movements.

Two Lexus ES models are offered, one petrol the other a petrol/electric hybrid.

The Lexus ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with peak power of 204 kW at 6200 rpm and torque of 346 Nm at 4700 revs.

Lexus ES 300h combines a 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with nickel-metal-hydride batteries to provide 151 kW and 213 Nm at 4500 rpm.

The petrol engine is mated to a conventional six-speed automatic transmission and the hybrid to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Published fuel consumption numbers are 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres from the V6 and 5.5 L/100 km from the Hybrid. As is generally the case our test figures during the launch drive program (around 250 km almost entirely on non-urban roads) were significantly above in the case of the ES 350 (around 10.3) and well above (around 6.9) in the ES 300h.

We’ll re-assess the fuel consumption when we do our extended road test in our home areas.

Each of the two models comes in either Luxury or Sports Luxury packages. Standard safety features in all variants include 10 airbags; ABS brakes; stability and traction control; pedestrian protection system; tyre pressure warning; blind spot monitor; hill-start assist; and reversing camera and parking sensors.

Optional in the ES 300h Luxury and standard in the other three models is the Lexus Pre-Collision Safety System that uses a grille-mounted radar to sensor to scan for a potential
Collision and then either alerts the driver or applies the brakes depending upon the degree of danger.

All models get leather seats; 10-way adjustable front seats; moon roof; Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming; dual-zone Nano-e air conditioning; and digital radio.

Among the extra features in the Sports Luxury models are tri-zone air conditioing; power boot lid; wood grain trim (bamboo in the ES 300h); Mark Levenson audi system; rear centre console controls for a range of features; and heated rear seat.

There’s much more so contact your local Lexus dealer for the full list.

The first impression in settling into the new Lexus ES is quality. This is a luxurious, refined and comfortable car that just oozes class. The seats are soft but supportive with rear legroom that matches the standard wheelbase Lexus LS. Rear seat headroom is fine for anyone under 1.9 metres.

Lexus ES has few sporting pretensions – there are a number of other Lexus models to cater for buyers with this in mind – and is aimed at luxury cruising and commuting rather than anything exciting. Indeed it’s often driven by chauffeurs in the booming Chinese market by owners who can’t afford the big step-up to the flagship Lexus LS.

Interestingly, the entry-level variant in the 2013 ES range is the ES 300h Luxury at $63,000. With the company targeting 50 per cent of its total Australian sales being hybrids this pricing will certainly help it along towards that goal.

That starting price is more than $20,000 below that of the previous Lexus ES 300 when it was launched in 2001 and just over $4000 more than the first (1992) car. With the vast improvements in technology and equipment that we have in 2013 that’s a huge increase in value for money.

Adding to the comparative value the ES, like all Lexus models, comes with a four-year standard warranty, although that is tempered slightly by its 100,000 km limit. The hybrid battery is covered up to eight years.

Lexus is hoping that absence will indeed make the ES grow fonder in the hearts of Australian mid-range luxury car buyers. This is a stylish and affordable addition to the mainly-European offerings in the mid-range luxury market segment.

The complete Lexus ES range is:
ES 300h Luxury: $63,000
ES 300h Sports Luxury: $72,000
ES 350 Luxury: $65,000
ES 350 Sports Luxury: $74,000
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for driveaway prices.

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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