By Clive Funziwe
You know you have made it as a manufacturer when the only slander you get is whether your products are exciting?
Enter the Lexus ES, and you’re literally greeted with nothing but an exquisite interior that is as unique as the exterior. Our test car had wooden trims on the dash wood inserts on the steering wheel as well. Leather is also of high quality which is found on the dash, door trims and arm rest as well as the seats.
Ergonomics are always top notch in a Lexus, and it is no different with the ES. The instrument gauge and infotainment are all within an acceptable eye line and most controls can be operable using the touch screen, multifunctional steering or the center track pad which can be a bit tricky to use. It would be a fair assumption that most owners will have access to a smart phone and since the Lexus supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – the driver would probably be better using the voice commands for most of those functions.
Other technologies include wireless smartphone charging, a radar guided cruise control with lane keep assist or lane keep warning that mildly vibrates the steering when you go over a line. Bells and whistles include a moon roof, comfortable seats that are heated and cooled, an automated rear sun blind, side blinds for the rear passengers, rear vents, a heated steering wheel, a heads-up display, memory seats for the front passengers and auto emergency reverse brake system.
The sound system deserves a special mention. It uses a 22 speaker, Mark Levinson sound system that is simply the best in the business. When streaming compressed music like on Spotify or iTunes, it will decompress the music files to have better audio. Another aspect that could also be aiding the sound output is the fact that the car is very quiet, thanks to 3 layers of insolation between the engine bay and passenger compartment and cladding of the cars floor for further sound proofing.
So far, there is nothing boring then? That depends on your preference. The ES300h is a Hybrid, and all that power – 160kW / 221 Nm is sent to the front wheels – where the competition is either AWD or RWD. This is not a negative, but for the keen driver who enjoys driving dynamics, the ES300h may be a little bit of a letdown in the corners and feels like the front wheel drive it is. This means you will be very comfortable on long cruises to Mpumalanga but will potentially not enjoy the corners as much as you would the scenery.
This is hardly a negative, but more of a preference on which wheels you prefer to propel the car forward. The ES300h makes up for this in its achievable fuel economy. We managed a respectable 5.5l/100kms in our time with the Lexus. This is when we were really trying hard. When the time to baby the throttle wasn’t there – we got around 6.8l/100kms – which remains very good for a car of this size and power.
All in all, the ES300h only marginally falls short from its rivals dynamically – but marginally so. It does however win on value, quality, its proven reliability and class leading warranty and maintenance plan that sits at 7-Years/100 000kms.
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