The 2018 Lexus ES has been given a 2021 mid-life cycle facelift. We went along to Mallorca to test it at its global launch to see if the tweaks to the front-wheel drive petrol hybrid car have done enough to tempt business buyers from their default BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E Class or Audi A6s? We will see.
A few changes have happened under the car but the power train remains pretty much the same with its 2.5 litre four cylinder engine aided by Toyota’s fourth generation petrol/electric hybrid system. Total power output is quoted at 218hp with 221nm. The changes to the exterior deliver a stronger street presence. There is a new, more aggressive, radiator grille and new lights with an optional adaptive ‘BladeScan’ auto high-beam feature. Otherwise the only thing you’l spot are the optional camera side mirrors. This option is. Only available on the top grade Premium model and it will be very unlikely to see this party trick on Irish roads. The system that has wide angle cameras on the end of stalks outside, displays its imagery on monitors mounted at the base of the windscreen pillars. The system is clearly an after-market ‘add-on’ and needs larger screens with better resolution to impress. The standard conventional mirrors are quite smart looking anyway. New alloy wheel and exterior colour options have been added. Inside there is Apple and Android connectivity through its repositioned 12.3-inch centre touch screen.
The ES is a huge global seller for Toyota’s premium car brand. With close to 2.75m sales the ES is only second in the Lexus sales charts to the RX. In Ireland it is second to the NX in the sales charts. It is a handsome imposing bus and a really easy car to drive. There is far more standard kit in even the base ES compared to rivals that you have to take a closer look – the trouble for ES in Ireland is that petrol is not a business or fleet fuel. To commit to an ES you have to surrender the ability to claim VAT back on diesel for business use. While many rivals are now offering PHEVs and hybrid versions of their business models, their diesel versions remain the big sellers by a very large margin. Many want to switch from diesel into a petrol hybrid but the accountant or fleet manager will says ’No!” The ES produces 119g/km of CO2 and that impressive for its size. Average fuel consumption is 5.2L/100km (54mpg).
Inside the cabin is a very comfortable place to be, although not over high tech in appearance. At the entry level the facelift has done little cosmetically but as you can see in the higher grade pictured the cabin manages to look smart enough. There are welcome additions to the five seat cabin like greater in-car connectivity and technology (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are fitted). The latest Lexus Link app facilitates some remote monitoring of the car and there is a hybrid driving coaching service swell.
Safety systems are improved via ‘Lexus Safety System+’. There is improved pre-collision braking set up with daytime cyclist detection and pedestrian detection in low light. Lane tracing assist (auto lane keeping) has been improved and when combined with adaptive cruise control, delivers quite fluid steering interventions as part of its level 2 autonomous driving capability. The ES’s enhanced ‘dynamic drive cruise control’ can reduce cornering speeds automatically. We’ll have to wait for the next generation of ES to reap the rewards of Lexus’s latest design and styling efforts as seen in the new NX.
Ride quality is improved and the big car corners well with little body roll. The auto gearbox delivers relaxed cruising and only makes a bit of a racket when you accelerate hard. the sprint from 0-100km/h takes 8.9 seconds. The cabin is hushed and overall the car delivers a comfortable, easy, cruising experience. The F-Sport grade has more sporty suspension and is the sharpest looking ES, as it has to take on M Sport, AMG line and S Line equipped rivals.
The ES comes in three grades with pricing starting at €50.950 for the ES 300h ‘Dynamic’. The F-Sport grade starts at €58,195, while the Premium grade costs from €63,650. The Lexus ES delivers a quiet life and comfortable cruising.