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Lexus ES test drive

The new Lexus ES offers a refined and luxurious executive experience, but can it make an impact on rivals like the BMW 5 Series?

What is it?

ES is a nameplate steeped in history for Lexus — but one many here in the UK are unlikely to have heard of before.

Roll the years back to 1989, and to the launch of the Lexus brand globally. The ES was one of two cars tasked with allowing this new Japanese firm to take on traditional premium rivals — and its success has seen it now entering its seventh generation.

Despite that, this is the first iteration of the executive saloon coming to the UK — replacing the slow-selling GS. Is it enough for Lexus to find success in a segment so traditionally dominated by the Germans?

What’s new about the Lexus ES?

The Lexus ES is both new to the UK, and totally new in this form. It’s set upon the GA-K (Global Architecture-K) platform, which will also see action as host of the latest Toyota Camry further on into 2019.

There are some brand firsts for Lexus here too, with a new 2.5-litre petrol engine featuring as part of an overhauled hybrid system, while new safety assistance technologies back up the forward-thinking approach here.

It’s also the first time Lexus has had a real go at making its trendy F Sport grade distinguishable from the rest of the range here. How? Having got behind the wheel of it, we’ll come to that…

How does it look?

Unmistakably Lexus is the best way to describe the looks of the ES. It manages to be reserved yet bold at the same time, largely thanks to the gargantuan spindle grille sitting at the front of the car.

F Sport variants get a model-specific take on that grille, boasting a honeycomb pattern in favour of the lined unit found on other trims. On top of that, it also boasts 19-inch alloy wheels, jet black exterior highlights, tweaked bumper designs and a subtle boot lid spoiler.

The F Sport package doesn’t make the ES look over-styled to our eyes, but those who want the ‘sporty’ option in the range to stand out might be left wanting for more.

What’s the spec like?

Pricing for the Lexus ES begins at £35,150, with standard-fit equipment including adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, heated electric seats, a reversing camera, rear privacy glass plus the Lexus Navigation infotainment system displayed on an eight-inch touchscreen (and sadly still linked to a dodgy trackpad).

On top of that, upgrading to F Sport brings with it the previously mentioned styling tweaks and suspension upgrades, plus unique seats and power folding mirrors. The F Sport is available from £38,150.

Those wanting a little more luxury over the standard car can opt for the £45,650 Takumi trim — bringing with it 18-inch alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, an automatic boot, a 10-inch head-up display and a larger 12-inch infotainment screen.

Continued on next page: Interior, drive and our verdict

Ryan Hirons
Ryan Hirons
Articles by Ryan Hirons are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.
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