THE Lexus ES 300h Takumi saloon delivers some of motoring's real surprises.
A successor introduced in 2019 to the smaller Lexus GS series, it has the advanced petrol and electric powertrain developed by parent Toyota over some 25 years.
Lexus has been setting the standard as its engineering enters its third decade and passed two-million global ev sales in May while some car makers are only now coming to terms with hybrid power.
A strong four-cylinder petrol engine and 120bhp electric motor optimise economy, lower emissions in urban situations as well as give a dramatic punch to performance when required by a driver.
Displays on the comprehensive instruments show what is working and to what extent and the driver can influence by selecting buttons on the console, operating the column paddles or simply flooring the throttle.
Everything else is then decided by the highly sophisticated Hybrid Synergy Drive. It's an educating experience.
We consistently saw 58mpg indicated and only in mixed urban driving did it dip to 54mpg.
The front strut and rear wishbone suspension give a very good ride irrespective of load and it coped well with potholes and raised speed bumps but the powered rack and pinion steering seemed to lack feedback and felt dead to touch.
There was no faulting the massive disc-brakes with their progressive power and effectiveness inspiring confidence and the highly efficient electric parking brake.
The CVT was also fluid in operation without any sudden surges or kicks and made busy town and stop-start motorway traffic seem inconsequential.
Secondary controls around the column, on the steering wheel, console and fascia were clearly marked and worked well. I was less pleased with the highly sensitive touchpad for the multi-purpose infotainment system and found it very distracting and in need of a better solution to selecting functions for safety reasons as well as convenience.
All the displays were large, clear and unaffected by strong sunlight and included a head-up display while the dual-level heating and ventilation front and back produced a really relaxing environment for all users, particularly those in the back who have their own power source and connections for phones or pads.
Driver and front seat passenger have powered seat adjustment and there are also systems in the back as well which is surprising and welcome. Room for four/ five was generous and the seats were particularly well shaped and supporting and access was excellent including into the big boot aided by a power open/ close.
Visibility was clear with low waistline and big windows, backed up by excellent sensors and cameras, very effective headlights and washer/ wipers infront.
The powertrain's low noise level and sometimes absent noise thanks to Active Noise Control technology meant the road rumbles from the big tyres were the only intrusion with no noticeable wind noise created at all.
The real-time speed sign recognition in the adaptive cruise control kept you a safe predetermined distance from traffic infront and warned about close vehicles to the sides and even stopped you reversing into something passing behind.