By Mike Torpey on 2022-09-11 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Lexus ES 300h
THE original Lexus ES was the model that, along with the flagship LS, launched the Toyota-owned brand back in 1989 and has flourished to the point that it is now the company's most popular saloon.
High numbers like 2.3 million sales worldwide shout volumes for a model range that it now into its seventh generation, yet is only the first ES to be introduced to the UK and western Europe.
That was three years ago and judging by its style at least, you wonder why it took so long for a car its designer Yasuo Kajino describes as having ‘provocative elegance', to be sold on these shores.
Since then the ES has undergone an upgrade to make it sharper, safer and more sporty with initiatives like a retuned suspension, 12.3-inch multimedia screen and an adaptive high beam set-up.
Hybrid is the name of the game for Lexus and parent brand Toyota these days, with all models now electrified, and the ES line-up of ES, Premium Edition, F Sport and Takumi, all feature the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine assisted by a power-dense electric motor.
The combination makes up what the company calls its self-charging Lexus Hybrid Drive system, developing a total power output of 215bhp - a bonus of which is an EV mode button which the driver can use to switch the car to electric power.
It means you can drive at low speed over short distances with zero emissions and fuel consumption - ideal in slow-moving traffic.
Official figures have the ES 300h as officially capable of returning between 50.4 and 53.2 miles per gallon and our own return, based on just over 350 miles of mixed motorway and urban driving, was bang on the 50 mark - impressive for a car of this proportion and engine size - even if it is a hybrid.
Looks aside, and the low-slung elegant stance of the ES certainly makes it a head-turner, what really impresses about this car is the way it conveys its occupants so smoothly while in such a high degree of comfort and convenience.
For instance the Premium Edition trim grade is only one up from base level and costing £39,980 yet it looks and feels every inch a luxury saloon. The only extra cost option was the distinguished Sunlight Green metallic paint and at £670 worth every penny.
The seats are of a soft perforated leather, in this case cream/ivory with discreet black inserts matched by door panels in the same combination, all set off by a warm cream headliner plus electric sliding sunroof for added brightness.
Just perfecting the seat design was a three-year project to secure the ideal posture and support for occupants while meticulous testing was undertaken to prevent external sounds getting into the car, the result being exceptional tranquility.
And if, like me, you don't store all your tunes on your phone and would rather hear songs via a CD player, well the ES has one - and the sound from the Pioneer 10-speaker set-up is satisfying too.
In addition, the ES's multimedia system has been upgraded for 2022 with a new 12.3-inch touchscreen, allowing operation by direct touch using either the track pad or voice control. All models equipped with Lexus Navigation feature the new touchscreen.
Passenger space all round is exceptional, with loads of legroom and the scope for three to sit comfortably across the back, the usual stowage options like a deep central lidded container, glovebox, door bins, slots and cup holders are all there and you also get a mobile phone charging pad. The boot too is very long and can accommodate plenty of clobber.
With driving comfort and handling in mind, the ES engineering team set out to transform a saloon known primarily for comfort and quietness into one that is equally capable of delivering class-leading handling and power that you can feel and hear.
It led to a new suspension that adapts to its surroundings, and though the majority of our driving was on fast, level roads, the result was a silky smooth driving experience. You can also flick between the drive modes of Eco, Normal and Sport.
And safety continues to be prioritised with the latest version of Lexus Safety System+, an advanced package of active safety technologies featured as standard on all versions of the car.
Lexus ES 300h Premium Edition
Mechanical:215bhp, 2,487cc 4-cyl petrol engine + electric motor driving rear wheels via CVT auto gearbox
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.