Singapore - One of our first thoughts about previous generations of ES usually ran along the lines of dressed-up Toyota Camry and so on. Truth be told, the first five generations of the ES were indeed built upon the Camry platform. The sixth was based off the Avalon and the same holds true for the seventh generation I tested photographed here.
Besides the platform though, the new ES couldn’t be anymore different from its Toyota counterpart as well as its previous iterations. Before we take a look at the major changes, its important to note just what made previous ES generations so successful. The ES lineage has always pride itself for being luxury and comfort biased as each generation continually got quieter and more luxurious. The seventh generation continues this but goes about it in a drastically different way.
While the ES(s) of yore had soft cushy suspension that became rather boat-like when driven spiritedly, the new ES has firm damping that balances performance without sacrificing comfort - very much like its German competition. Its still comfort orientated though, so don’t expect it to possess the dynamism of its peers nor the performance either (0-100km/h takes 8.9 seconds) but the ES will win you over with its ride quality, multitude of high-tech features and its bold new looks.
Speaking of looks, gone is the innocuous demeanour of the old ES, the new car is refreshingly styled with sharp lines, an aggressive facade comprising of a sneering spindle grille, distinct headlamps and a massive presence. The ES does bear a striking resemblance to the LS, Lexus’ flagship. That new attitude continues into the cabin too, its modern, matured, brimming with tech and most importantly, quality and fitment is top-notch.
Taking centerstage is a 12.3-inch infotainment display that serves up just about every crucial information you might need. Once you get accustomed to the the massive screen, you would also probably realise just how spacious the cabin is thanks to a wheelbase and body length that’s 50mm and 65mm longer.
Boot space has also been upsized to 473-litres thanks to the relocation of a smaller nickel metal hydride battery from the trunk to below the rear bench. Driving the ES Hybrid, the Lexus goes about its business in utter bliss, cocooning its occupants in sophisticated serenity, outside noises are muted, acceleration is instantaneous and linear even though its naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four-potter/electric-motor combo produces only 215 horses and 221Nm of torque while being mated to a CVT gearbox.
Ultimately, the ES’ game is making sure that driver and passengers can enjoy one of the quietest luxurious cabins in the business and in that aspect, the Lexus is unsurpassed in its segment. That said, the ES can now be driven pretty hard too if need be without the need to lose the last meal you ingested. The steering wheel has a nice weight to it and feels precise, moving the massive ES around narrow roads and tight spots is a piece of cake.
Add to that a balanced chassis that maintains its composure and ride quality despite the condition of the road and the ES is starting to look rather class-leading. One final note in my test-drive, it being a hybrid and all, I wasn’t expecting jaw-dropping fuel efficiency, but the ES astounded me as I drove it with a lead foot and still got an average of 16.8km/l, I travelled 456km on half of a 50-litre tank of gas. Very impressive.
The ES makes a convincing proposition to the usual German marques, especially now with its bold exterior, ultra luxurious cabin and impressive mileage, what more could you ask for?