Lexus ES300h: Hits And Misses
The Lexus ES300h takes a very different approach to luxury. But is it an approach that offers enough to be considered over better established German rivals?
When you’ve got about half a crore to spend on a luxury sedan, the mind almost immediately drifts towards options like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, or Audi A6. They’ve been around for long enough and have found enough owners to make you comfortable with the idea of buying one for yourself.
But there may be the temptation to get something more exclusive. Something that is yet to become a common sight and will invite some envy but more importantly, curiosity. The Lexus ES300h certainly looks like a good option to satisfy this need. Its design is unique, the technology that powers it is rare in India, and it brings with it, the promise of time-tested Japanese reliability (Lexus is Toyota’s luxury car brand).
So does this sedan deserve the big bucks or is this unconventional choice the right one?
Looks Like Nothing Else
The Lexus ES300h sports a very distinctive design language, one that easily makes it stand out as something from the Lexus stable. It takes its styling inspiration from its big brother, the Lexus LS500h, and looks just as edgy and unique. Even the 18-inch alloy wheels look similar to what Lexus’ flagship sedan gets. The low and wide stance as well as the sportscar-like tail section make it quite the head-turner. That said, it’s the front spindle grille -- flanked by the sleek ‘3 eye’ bi-beam LED headlights -- that attract the most attention.
Efficient Hybrid Tech
The ES300h comes powered by a 217PS petrol-hybrid engine. While most in this spending space would get a diesel for the superior fuel efficiency, the ES300h offers the smoothness of a petrol engine combined with the mileage benefits of a diesel motor. In fact, its claimed fuel efficiency stands at 22.37kmpl.
This isn’t just an impressive number on paper. Hybrids are genuinely fuel-efficient even in our real-world conditions, as we discovered in this comparison review. While driving in the city, the ES300h can also run on pure electric power, in which, not only is there no engine noise, but you also save a heap on fuel used and emissions released.
Peaceful In-Cabin Experience
Being driven in the ES300h is a truly relaxing experience. The hybrid powertrains deliver performance in an extremely smooth fashion, the seats are very well cushioned and supportive, and the car itself offers excellent noise insulation. Even the ride quality is set on the softer side. Everything about the car encourages relaxed cruising. If you’re looking to doze off after a long day at the office, the ES300h’s cabin is one of the most welcoming places to do that.
Well-Loaded With Features
Let’s start from the back. For rear-seat comfort, the ES300h gets a motorised rear sunblind, privacy blinds to the sides, and electric backrest angle adjustment. The central armrest itself has the controls for the electric functions as well as the buttons to control the rear climate control and select infotainment functions.
There are features to make you go wow too, like the 7-inch digital instrument cluster that changes animations based on the drive mode chosen. There’s also a 12.3-inch infotainment screen that’s very responsive to use and has excellent resolution.
Also Read: Mercedes-Benz E350 d And E220 d: Review
But the 17-speaker Mark Levinson music system is truly the showstopper. It’s loud enough to play DJ at your garden party but importantly, it keeps sound quality precise and clear, even at full blast. Further, the car comes with goodies like ventilated and powered front seats, three-zone climate control, and heated rear seats. It also gets cruise control, a heads up display, motorised steering-adjustment, and a sunroof.
On the safety front, aside from ABS with EBD, traction control, vehicle stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and front and rear parking sensors, it also gets 10 airbags!
The Lexus Ownership Promise
As a brand, Lexus is known worldwide for the near-bulletproof ownership experience it provides. Owners swear by the attention to detail, responsiveness, and cost of ownership. The brand is known to focus heavily on giving customers peace of mind in the post-sale stage. Additionally, the cars themselves have proven to be very reliable and niggle free. After all, under all the glamorous Lexus packaging is Toyota’s workhorse DNA.
Taller drivers or even back seat owners will find themselves wanting more headroom. The swooping roof seems to take its toll on the available headroom. Also, given the sporty, low-slung stance, getting in and out of the car isn’t ideal for older users. It can get a little taxing on the knees.
Not An Exciting Car To Drive
The Lexus ES300h has plenty of punch on offer and isn’t boring when you push it. But the car is noticeably designed to focus more on comfort and doesn’t feel as sharp to drive as, say, a Jaguar XF. In this department, it’s the BMW 5 Series that strikes the best balance between fun to drive and comfortable to be driven in.
Check Out The Review: 2019 BMW 330i Series
Infotainment Screen Is Tricky To Use
Unfortunately, the infotainment display is not a touchscreen. It’s operated via a trackpad that isn’t as easy to use on the move as the systems offered by BMW or Mercedes-Benz. It also misses out on connectivity options like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Additionally, while the resolution is great, the user interface can be quite tricky.
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