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Luxury Lexus ES arrives in SA: New design, better driving performance

2018-10-04 11:23
Lexus ES250

Image: Sean Parker/Wheels24

After six generations of success in the medium-size sedan category, the all-new, seventh-generation Lexus ES is forging a new and more ambitious path.

The new ES builds on its predecessor with an all-new chassis that allows for a more dynamic exterior design and even better driving performance.

The range includes the ES 250 petrol engine model as well as ES 300h - both on sale from October 2018. The ES 300h is powered by a new self-charging hybrid system.

GALLERY: 2018 Lexus ES 250

Lexus SA says: "The seventh-generation ES follows the new LS flagship sedan and LC coupe in carrying forward a new chapter in Lexus design that has a much stronger emotional quality.

READ: Lavish LS 500 flagship: This is the luxury sedan Lexus hopes to take on the S-Class, 7 Series in SA!

"The eye-catching styling, made possible by the use of an all-new Global Architecture – GA-K platform, will have particular appeal to customers, together with a more engaging driving experience and even higher safety provisions."

"Because the new ES is built on the all-new Global Architecture - GA-K platform - this gave Lexus the opportunity to explore the limits of mid-size luxury sedan design."

Design

The car is longer (+65mm), lower (-5mm) and wider (+45mm) than its predecessor. The longer wheelbase (+50mm) allows the wheels to be pushed closer to the car’s corners, with wider front and rear treads (+10 and +37mm).

The spindle grille has become a signature feature of Lexus vehicle design, but its purpose is not simply a brand signifier. On the new ES, it provides a starting point for the car’s design theme, generating lines which flow through the body and converge at the rear.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                        Image: Motorpress

The rear end is clean and sharply chiselled, with LEDs that wrap around the quarter panels to generate a continuous styling line when viewed from any angle. Two different 17" and 18" wheel designs are available.

The ES 250 EX model is equipped with 17" multi-spoke cast alloy wheels and the ES 300h SE model runs on 18" Hyper Chrome Cast Allow noise-reducing wheels, featuring a turbine design. The hybrid model also features an integrated rear spoiler as well as auto-fold door mirror functionality when the car is switched off.

LED low and highbeam headlights are standard on the ES 250 EX model. The slim, compact headlights features a standard bi-LED unit with an integrated LED DRL in the classic Lexus L-motif.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                     Image: Motorpress

Premium triple-beam LED technology on the Hybrid uses three compact bi-LED units. All-LED turn signals and side marker lamps are also included and its Adaptive High-beam System (AHS) is designed to provide enhanced visibility using the high-beam lamps.

The range comprises nine colours; White Quartz, Platinum Silver, Mercury Grey, Opulent Blue, Black and Morello Red.  New to the ES range is Sonic Titanium as well as ES-exclusive colours – Ice Ecru and Olive Green.

Another standard feature on both models is the Moonroof with Tilt & Slide functionality.

'Seat in control'

The driver’s focus is kept on the road ahead by locating the centre display screen, instrument panel and head-up display (hybrid only) in a tight cluster within the field of view. 

Lexus calls this concept "Seat in Control", a simple idea that ensures all the controls you need are within easy reach and all the information you want is in plain view.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                       Image: Motorpress

The armrest slides comfortably under your elbow and the buttons can be pushed without taking your hands off the wheel, including protruding horn-type activators for the Drive Mode Select function and traction control switches which are housed within the instrument nacelle.

It provides a driving posture which reduces fatigue and provides an excellent feeling of envelopment, while also supporting the correct driving posture.

The shape of the front seats has been designed in consideration of operating the steering wheel as well as ingress and egress which allow for easy access for the driver (the steering wheel and driver’s seat automatically adjust for ease of access). Furthermore, these comprise two-way lumbar support on the ES 250 and four-way lumbar support on the hybrid model.

Another means to reduce driver distraction is the head-up display (available as a standard on the hybrid model) that projects relevant vehicle information onto the windscreen.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                           Image: Motorpress

Fully adjustable to suit the driver’s preferred parameters, the colour display is the largest in the luxury car class. In addition to basic functionality, such as speed, fuel level and shift position, the display can also present speed limit signs, lane-keeping assist warnings and navigation directions.

What the driver sees is also enhanced by what they feel. The driving position in the ES has been refined with a more natural steering wheel angle and revised pedal positions.

The steering wheel itself is borrowed directly from the LS and features an ergonomically-shaped rim. The ES 300h steering wheel comes standard with a wood trim as well as integral heating elements.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                        Image: Motorpress

In both the ES250 and ES300h, the Lexus Climate Concierge cooperatively controls the climate control system, seat heating and steering-wheel heating (hybrid only) to quickly provide the driver and each passenger with a comfortable environment.

Heatable front seats are available for the driver and front passenger in the ES 250 – the hybrid model also provides seat heaters for the rear passengers.

The cabin is a connected space, too, with the availability of satnav for the hybrid which includes a range of connected services. The navigation provides a 12.3" multimedia display and second-generation Remote Touch touchpad control; its voice recognition capabilities extend to a mobile assistant, allowing contactless driver’s smartphone control. The display features a reverse camera as standard kit, but the hybrid tops this up with a panoramic view display.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                          Image: Motorpress

The standard combination meter features a 7" TFT LCD screen with a display configurable based on the driving mode. An Optitron-type meter is used for the water temperature and fuel gauges and lastly, a start-up animation plays across the combination meter, multimedia display and Head-Up Display, creating a visual welcome in the ES. 

Naturally, cruise control is standard on the ES and, in the case of the hybrid, it includes radar functionality.

Rear passenger comfort has long been a hallmark of the ES and the new model upholds this quality, in spite of the sleeker exterior roof line. A lower hip point and carefully configured headlining preserve headroom while the longer wheelbase ensures generous legroom.

Furthermore, power reclining seats are available on the hybrid model; providing occupants with superior relaxation and control. All amenities can be controlled using the rear seat control panel such as the climate control as well as the rear seat heaters, the rear seat reclining function and rear sunshade in the hybrid. The hybrid model also comes standard with manual sun blinds for rear seat passengers.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                        Image: Motorpress

The interior colour options include a new combination that reflects the ‘provocative elegance’ design theme. The standard interior trim colours comprise Black, Chateau and Topaz Brown. A Rich Cream option is exclusive to the hybrid model and features matching cream and brown upholstery. 

The interior trim on the ES250 EX is Nulux, which is simulated leather, while the trim in the ES 300h SE model is genuine Semi-Aniline Leather. A unique Lexus-first is Viscotecs – an unusual three-dimensional painted finish which is applied to selected leather surfaces such as the armrest and door trim.

Furthermore, the ES 300h ups the luxury stakes with the use of traditional materials such as wood, lending the ES an air of hand-crafted excellence. The hybrid is also equipped with a mobile phone charging pad.

All-new engine

The ES250 is available with a new, direct-injection 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a new eight-speed Direct Shift automatic. Outputs are 152kW at 6600rpm and 243Nm at 4000-5000rpm.

Fuel consumption for the ES 250 is 6.6 litres/100km and it dispatches the 0-100km/h sprint in 9.1 seconds and lastly, its top speed is clocked at 210km/h. 

The Direct-4S injection system in the 2.5-litre engine is used to provide high-pressure direct fuel injection and low-pressure port injection for low-load, Atkinson-cycle operation.

New hybrid system

The ES 300h is equipped with a new, fourth-generation, self-charging hybrid drive system that can deliver exceptional fuel-efficient, responsive performance and minimal emissions for a mid-size luxury sedan.

It couples the aforementioned ultra-efficient 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with a lighter, more compact and more power-dense electric motor.

Total system power is 160kW and combined cycle fuel economy is from 4.6l/100km. The ES 300h sprints from 0-100 km/h  in a laudable 8.9 seconds and is electronically-governed to a top speed of 180km/h.

Designed specifically to work with the 2.5-litre engine, the new transaxle has a multi-axle arrangement of the electric motors in place of the previous coaxial set-up which reduces the overall length of the package by nearly 30mm.

2018 Lexus ES250

                                                                       Image: Motorpress

The traditional planetary gear set has been replaced by a parallel shaft gear and a multi-function gear that incorporates a power split planetary ring gear, parking gear and counter drive gear into one compact unit.

The nickel-metal-hydride battery that powers the electric motor has been relocated from the boot to underneath the back seat.

This was made possible by a 120mm reduction in the height of the battery and the adoption of a more compact cooling system. Moving the battery under the seat not only frees up boot space, but it also improves the car’s front-to-rear weight distribution for better handling.

Several new features have been incorporated into the ES 300h to improve overall driving satisfaction and engagement. The hybrid control system is now designed to deliver a more linear acceleration feel by aligning engine speed more closely with vehicle speed, reducing the “rubber band” feel commonly associated with hybrid systems.

Engaging the Sport drive mode further enhances acceleration by boosting torque at lower speeds while paddle shifters can be used to move through eight-simulated gears for more precise control.

Drive mode option

Both the Lexus ES 250 and ES 300h are equipped with Lexus Drive Mode Select, which allows the driver to tailor the driving experience by selecting from three different drive modes.

Normal mode provides an optimal balance between driving performance and fuel efficiency; ECO mode maximises fuel savings across all driving conditions by smoothing the throttle response, and by moderating air conditioning operation; Sport Mode delivers quicker throttle response and increased power steering feel.

The best in safety

The seventh-generation ES features the advanced safety technology expected from a Lexus. ES models are equipped with ten airbags: 2 x driver and front passenger airbags; 2 x driver and front passenger knee airbags; 2 x driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact airbags; 2 x front to rear-side curtain airbags; and 2 x rear cushion airbags.

The ES is available with some of the key features from the latest Lexus Safety System+. For South Africa, these impressive safety features are available in the hybrid model only.  

This includes the Pre-Crash System (PCS) which is capable of detecting oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. PCS has also been enhanced to detect pedestrians at night by increasing the radar’s sensitivity and dynamic range.

Other features include; Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert (LDA) - detects not only yellow or white traffic lane markings but can also detect the edges of the roadway.

Lexus ES250

                                                                     Image: Sean Parker/Wheels24

Adaptive High Beam System (AHS) - not only turns the headlight high beams on and off automatically for the driver but its 24 individual LED light array is capable of adapting the light pattern to provide enhanced illumination while reducing glare for oncoming drivers

Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) - incorporating Rear Cross Traffic Alert - this is supported with high definition cameras also aid for a crisp clear view. The model also has a Panoramic View Monitor display which displays a composite image from cameras installed in the front, the left and right outer mirrors, as well as the rear of the vehicle on the multimedia display. This ultimately shows the vehicle as if viewed from above to support the driver when reversing at slow speeds.

Pricing and spec

The ES250 EX carries a price tag of R593 300 and the ES300h SE model retails for R843 800. Furthermore, Lexus has expanded the customer care experience for which it is renowned - announcing a best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. Vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.

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