Lexus ES 300h Takumi

Lexus ES 300h, side static
Lexus ES 300h, rear static
Lexus ES 300h, front static
Lexus ES 300h, front static 2
Lexus ES 300h, front static 3
Lexus ES 300h, rear seats 2
Lexus ES 300h, rear console
Lexus ES 300h, rear seats
Lexus ES 300h, front seats
Lexus ES 300h, dash detail
Lexus ES 300h, dashboard
Lexus ES 300h, boot

YOU might have read that Volvo is going to limit its cars to 112mph flat out from next year to improve road safety - but Lexus has got there first, without trying.

For that precise figure - 112mph - is the most you'll squeeze from the new Lexus ES 300h. On an unrestricted stretch of autobahn the next time you motor through Germany, of course.

But where Volvo is going to need to choke the Vmax on its cars, that's all this executive class Lexus can manage. And, you know, it doesn't matter a jot.

For here is a car almost perfectly suited to taking you and (particularly) your passengers on the sort of journeys that involve swallowing miles at a respectable pace, without an eye on the upper reaches of the speedometer.

Especially if you choose the most luxurious Takumi version of the ES 300h, a range which starts at £35,150 and climbs to the £45,650 for the car you see here.

All of them share the same 2.5-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor with a battery under the rear seat and driving the front wheels through a CVT automatic transmission.

The result - hopes Japan-based Lexus - is a mix of luxury, ease of use and economy, wrapped in a shape that onlookers admired (to a man and woman) and whose razor sharp lines could never be mistaken for something from... Germany.

And mostly those aspirations are met. It's certainly economical for a car as big and spacious as the ES, with 44.6mpg showing after more than 500 miles of mixed use. Makes the lack of a diesel option a non-problem, you'd have to think.

It's also mostly easy to use. The CVT transmission requires no special skills from the driver, apart from not pushing too hard on the accelerator, which sends the revs rising as the car tries to catch up. Smooth is the way to go here.

It means this isn't a car for the keener driver. Better to sit back and admire a cabin built as precisely as something at twice the price and exuding a proper sense of upper crust breeding.

Especially so with the top spec Takumi version, whose rear passengers are treated to heated seats that also separately recline.

Sit behind an empty front seat and a discreet switch on the seat back lets you power it forward to increase your own rear legroom - a hint that the best seat in this particular house may not be behind the wheel.

Other luxury touches extend to a 17 speaker sound system (without any apparent way of adjusting the tone settings) and a sat nav screen that transforms into an all-round view of the car when you engage reverse. Never was parking a big car made so easy.

A continuing Lexus demerit is the touch pad you use to input things like sat nav addresses, when a (German-ish) control knob would be better.

FAST FACTS

Lexus ES 300h Takumi

Price: £45,650

Mechanical: 215bhp, 2,487cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via CVT automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 59.3

Insurance Group: 38

C02 emissions: 103g/km

Bik rating: 24%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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