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Lexus first entered the Indian market sometime in the second half of 2016. The brand, upon its entry, also brought along the ES 300h. However, that version of the sedan was nearing the end of its life-cycle and even looked a bit outdated.
Now, just months after its unveiling at Beijing Motor Show 2018, Lexus has brought the seventh-generation ES 300h sedan to the country.
The 2018 Lexus ES 300h is based on Toyota's Global Architecture-K platform. It is now much bigger than the previous model — 60mm longer and 45mm wider. The wheelbase has also grown by 50mm.
The new GA-K platform from Toyota is lighter by 62kg but the kerb weight of the ES300h is now 1,740kg (up by 35kg). The new platform makes use of high tensile steel in several areas which further provides additional rigidity to the car.
That said, we recently got to drive the new 2018 Lexus ES 300h in Delhi and here are our thoughts on the Japanese luxury sedan.
Design & Style
The Lexus ES 300h offers a stylish design with a distinctive look. The sedan can be easily mistaken for the larger LS 500h with the large spindle grille at the front; a design statement for all modern Lexus models.
The Lexus ES 300h is now lower and wider than the previous-generation model; thus adding to the sportiness. The iconic spindle grille is flanked on either side by a pair of edgy triple-barrel LED headlamps plus integrated DRLs.
Moving to the side profile, the ES 300h gets a sloping roofline, offering a fastback-like silhouette. The sides are characterised mainly by the sharp creases just below the belt line and the subtle formations along the bottom part of the doors. The large 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels look really good and come in "a hyper-chrome finish" as Lexus calls it. The new ES also rides 5mm lower than it used to before.
The windows are large and allow plenty of light inside to brighten up the cabin. The thin chrome surround, with a small kink towards the end, adds a bit more drama to the side proportion.
The rear of the Lexus ES 300h continues the sporty look of the sedan with the brilliantly-detailed wrap-around LED tail lights and a boot-lip spoiler. The lines are clean, sharp and well-chiselled. Also present is a thin chrome strip which runs across the width of the boot and extends over the tail lights; ultimately meeting the shoulder line.
Overall, the Lexus ES 300h showcases an aggressive and sporty look without losing its charm at being elegant. Not everyone will be a fan of Lexus products' out-of-the-world styling but with the ES 300h, things could be different for many.
The LS connection doesn't end on the exteriors but is also carried forward to the interiors. The cabin uses some of the best materials in the business, with the fit-and-finish being second to none.
Step into the 2018 ES and there is an immediate sense of luxury unlike no other. The cabin design feels rich, premium and flamboyant; completely standing out from its German rivals. Although the driver's cockpit looks a bit busy at first, the layout has been designed to have everything at the eye-level of the driver.
The dashboard uses some of the best soft-touch materials in the segment. Most of the main elements on the inside, including the steering rims, door pads and gear lever, come wrapped in plush leather.
The steering wheel looks sporty and comes with paddle shifters which have got a nice feel to them. Behind that lies the digital instrument cluster with the speedometer and a circular tachometer pod at the centre. The tachometer pod doubles up as a charge/power gauge when the car is driven in Eco Mode. Just above the instrument cluster are two rotary knobs which control various driving modes and traction control functionalities.
There is also a Heads-Up Display (HUD) which comes as standard. The HUD shows a lot of information including the navigation and speed-limit warnings. This is placed directly in front of the driver, again conveniently at the level of the eye.
Stereo & Infotainment
Carrying forward the ‘being at eye-level' theme on the ES 300h, the sedan comes equipped with a 12.3-inch infotainment display. The large display unit is positioned at the same level as the instrument cluster, reducing the need for the driver to look too much away from the road.
The infotainment display on the sedan is not, however, touch-sensitive. Yes, no touchscreen option on the Lexus! But the ES 300h does come with a trackpad to help navigate the various functions on the display. The trackpad itself needs some getting used to and is better off being used at standstill. The lack of a rotary knob to control the infotainment system on the move is noticeably felt at this point.
The high-resolution display is used for a wide range of features including media, navigation and a host of other vehicle information. The sedan does miss out on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (which is now becoming a common feature on most cars) but features Miracast and a DVD Player.
Below the large display is an array of physical buttons, neatly laid-out next to each other. Each button controls key features such as the media and climate controls on the sedan. The 17-speaker 1800W surround sound system from Mark Levinson offers top-notch audio quality and is on par or better than any other luxury car on the market today.
Practicality, Comfort & Boot Space
The seats on the new Lexus ES 300h offer great comfort with the perfect amount of cushioning, and are covered in a soft leather material which feels plush. They also come with heating and ventilation functions as standard. Lateral and thigh support are good and can further be adjusted electrically through the four-way lumbar support function.
The front seats come with a fixed armrest for both passengers (again wrapped in leather). Lexus claims that the fixed armrest and the plush leather seats become even more comfortable over long journeys.
The rear continues to impress further in terms of comfort and ergonomics. The central armrest can be flipped down, extending the level of comfort at the back. The central armrest houses the controls for the AC, seat heating, multimedia and rear sunshade too. However, unlike the front, the rear seats miss out on seat ventilation. The side sunshades are manually deployable with the quarter panel glass also getting its own shade.
The rear seats offer sofa-like comfort and can be reclined to an angle up to eight degrees. The rear passengers can move the front seats forward using the seat controls on the side for some extra legroom. However, it's not all smooth sailing, as the headroom for most rear passengers will be limited.
The ES 300h we drove came with premium Brown leather seats and a black roof upholstery. The car is offered with four customisable interior upholstery options to choose from: Topaz Brown Chateau & Black, Shimamoku Black, Shimamoku Brown and Bamboo.
Lexus has done an amazing job at controlling the NVH levels inside the cabin. Another feature which reduces the NVH levels are the 18-inch spokes themselves. Remember the ‘hyper-chrome finish' alloys we mentioned earlier? These alloys are, in fact, hollow inside and act as resonance chambers; further dispersing the road noise from entering the cabin.
The insulation inside the ES 300h is so efficient such that, the engineers at Lexus had to pump in ambient noises from the surround sound system to make it less eerie.
The new GA-K platform has given the ES, a massive boot space of 454 litres. The platform has also allowed the battery packs to be placed under the rear seats rather than taking up space in the boot (as in the previous model). The sedan comes with a full-size spare wheel under the boot floor. Another cool feature is the kick sensor — a hands-free way of opening the boot door.
Engine Performance & Driving Impressions
Under the bonnet of the 2018 Lexus ES 300h is a 2.5-litre inline naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine. It is further mated to an electric motor, both of which power the front wheels. The engine alone produces 178bhp and 221Nm of peak torque, with the electric motor producing an additional 120bhp of power output. The entire unit is further paired to a standard six-step CVT transmission.
The electric motor on the 2018 ES 300h has shrunk in size and is now more compact than before. This has greatly helped Lexus in packaging the powertrain, further lowering the weight and improving the overall performance.
The ES 300h comes with a dedicated EV mode which allows the car to be driven using just electric power. As expected, it offers a totally silent driving experience. Put your foot down on the throttle and the transition from the EV to Hybrid mode is hardly noticeable. The petrol engine is also well-tuned and extremely refined as well, with minimal NVH.
The CVT transmission works well with the engine to offer optimum power delivery at all times. But the rubber band effect of CVT systems is still subtly present.
The paddle shifters further help control the power output of the car with fast and responsive shifts. Steering on the ES 300h is quite impressive as well. The wheel is light to use while driving in traffic and feels weighted upon entering the highways.
The multi-link suspension and the performance dampers easily navigatethrough rough tarmac and small undulations. The plush seats and the firm suspension offer a comfortable driving experience, even after extended hours behind the wheel.
Braking on the Lexus ES 300h is extremely responsive and instils good confidence to the driver. The sedan comes with regenerative braking and the transition between the regenerative system and the actual braking process is seamless.
Here are the technical specifications of the 2018 Lexus ES 300h, we've tested:
|Engine||2,487cc NA Petrol|
|No. Of Cylinders||4|
|Top Speed (km/h)||180 |
|Mileage (km/l)||22.37 (Claimed) |
|Wheel Size (mm)||235/45 R18|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1,705|
|Price (Ex-Showroom)||Rs 59.13 Lakh|
Pricing, Mileage & Colours
In India, the Lexus ES 300h is available in only a single trim. Priced at Rs 59.13 Lakh, ex-showroom (India), the 2018 Lexus ES 300h is the most efficient sedan in its segment, returning a claimed mileage figure of 22.37km/l.
Lexus also offers a range of optional features and accessories for the ES 300h, in addition to an array of personalisation choices crafted to suit every customer's need.
The 2018 Lexus ES 300h is available in nine colour choices: Sonic Quartz, Mercury Grey Mica, Premium Silver Metallic, Sonic Titanium, Black, Graphite Black Glass Flake, Red Mica Crystal Shine, Ice Ecru Mica Metallic and Deep Blue Mica.
Safety & Key Features
The Lexus ES 300h comes with a host of features, equipment and other customisable options. Below are some of the standard features on the ES 300h:
- Active Noise Display
- Remote Touch Interface
- Cruise Control
- Wireless Charging
- 12.3-inch Infotainment System
- Full-Colour Heads-Up Display
- Three-Zone Climate Control
- Front Seats with Memory Function
- Power Rear Seats
- LED Ambient Lighting
Apart from the standard infotainment equipment, the Lexus ES 300h also comes with a host of safety features. Some of them include:
- 10 Airbags
- ABS with EBD
- Vehicle Stability Control
- Hill-Start Assist
- Power Windows with Jam Protection & Speed Control
- Emergency Brake Signal
- ISOFIX Child Seat Mounts
- Anti-Theft System
- Impact-Sensing Fuel Cut
- Tyre-Pressure Monitoring System
The petrol-powered luxury sedan segment is reserved to a niche customers base in India. This is one reason why the number of competitors in this segment is less. Still, the 2018 Lexus ES 300h takes on stiff rivals from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class LWB, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and the Volvo S90 in India.
Here is a small comparison of the 2018 Lexus ES 300h with two of its main rivals:
|Models||Power/Torque (bhp/Nm)||Starting Price*|
|Lexus ES 300h 2.5 petrol||214/221||Rs 59.13 Lakh|
|Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2.0 Petrol||184/300||Rs 58.61 Lakh|
|BMW 5 Series 530i Petrol||248/350||Rs 49.90 Lakh|
Lexus has taken a big leap forward with the 2018 ES 300h, both in terms of styling and equipment. Being a hybrid, the carbon footprint left is much less compared to any other car in its segment while also delivering excellent fuel efficiency. The lower and wider stance of the sedan promises a brilliant performance and is just a better overall package compared to the previous model.
Jobo Kuruvilla Thinks!
The ES 300h offers high on-road personality, including a special dose of daring design, good fuel efficiency, a quiet cabin and an easy-speedy drive. When the first-generation made its debut, the ES stood for Elegant Sedan. Believe us when we say that, this Elegant Sedan has enough to tempt you away from a buying a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class.