Life is full of surprises but few are as welcome as the Lexus ES300h Takumi saloon delivers.
A larger successor introduced in 2019 to the Lexus GS series, it has the advanced petrol & electric powertrain developed by parent Toyota over some 25 years. The experience shows. While some car makers are only now coming to terms with hybrid power, Lexus has been setting the standard over three decades and passed two-million global ev sales in May.
A beefy four-cylinder petrol engine is mated with a 650v 120bhp electric motor and 244DC v traction battery to optimise economy, lower emissions in urban situations as well as give a dramatic punch to performance when required by a driver.
The seamless integration and operation of the two power sources is truly remarkable and highly sophisticated with the driver only really aware of them operating because of the silence or surge of power as the system decides what is needed for any situation.
Displays on the comprehensive instruments show what is working and to what extent and the driver can influence what is wanted by selecting buttons on the console, operating the column paddles or simply flooring the throttle.
Everything else is then decided by the highly sophisticated Hybrid Synergy Drive. It’s an educating experience.
The test car’s official fuel economy figures suggest a return of between 53 and 63mpg but we consistently saw 58mpg indicated and only in mixed urban driving did it dip to 54mpg.
There are ten models in the ES300h range, essentially split into Sport and Premium trims with luxury and technical differences from around £35,000 to £48,000 plus options in each case, but the powertrain is uniform and it’s only front wheel drive.
The Lexus ES went into production in 1989 but its only the current seventh generation which came to Europe in 2019 when it replaced the GS series with a larger platform to please European tastes and market segment.
The front strut and rear wishbone suspension give a very good ride irrespective of load and it coped well with potholes and raised speed bumps but the powered rack and pinion steering seemed to lack feedback and felt dead to touch. There was no faulting the massive disc-brakes with their progressive power and effectiveness inspiring confidence and the highly efficient electric parking brake.
The CVT was also fluid in operation without any sudden surges or kicks and made busy town and stop-start motorway traffic seem inconsequential.
Secondary controls around the column, on the steering wheel, console and fascia were clearly marked and worked well but needed familiarisation. I was less pleased with the highly sensitive touchpad for the multi-purpose infotainment system and found it very distracting and in need of a better solution to selecting functions for safety reasons as well as convenience.
All displays were large, clear and unaffected by strong sunlight and included a head-up display while the dual-level heating and ventilation front and back produced a really relaxing environment for all users, particularly those in the back who have their own power source and connections for phones or pads.
Driver and front seat passenger have powered seat adjustment and there are also systems in the back as well which is surprising and welcome. Access was excellent including into the big boot aided by a power open/ close.
Room for four/ five was generous and the seats were particularly well shaped and supporting.
Visibility was clear with low waistline and big windows, excellent sensors and cameras, very effective headlights and washer/ wipers infront. The powertrain’s low noise and sometimes absent noise thanks to Active Noise Control technology meant the road rumbles from the big tyres were the only intrusion with no noticeable wind noise created at all.
The real-time speed sign recognition in the adaptive cruise control kept you a safe predetermined distance from traffic infront and warned about close vehicles to the sides and even stopped you reversing into something passing behind.
When you analyse the technology & equipment in the Lexus ES300h Takumi you are really getting a lot of car for the money and that’s another surprise to make you smile.
|Fast facts:||Lexus ES300h Takumi|
|Price: £50,774 inc options met paint/ pro pack||Mechanical: 215bhp 4cyl 2.5 litre petrol-electric, CVT|
|Max Speed: 112mph||0-62mph: 8.9 sec|
|Combined MPG: 58||Insurance Group: 38E|
|C02 emissions: 125g/km||Bik rating: VED group G, 29%, £170FY, £480x5SR|
|Warranty: 3-5yrs/ 60,000 miles||Size: L4,98m, W1,87m, H1,45m|
|Bootspace: 454 litres||Kerbweight: 1742kg|
For: Sophisticated highly economical powertrain, extremely comfortable and very roomy for people and luggage
Against: Low road noise, high road tax, some deadness to steering, very sensitive touchpad for infotainment control.