FIRST DRIVE | New 2021 Lexus ES gets sharper styling and improved tech
If you’re an outlier who is still keen on luxury sedans despite their dwindling sales, the Lexus ES range has been refreshed for sharper looks and more technology, this after the addition of the Lexus ES 300h EX model some two years ago.
The most affordable entry point into Lexus sedan ownership has always offered something a little different. Price rivals include the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series but this Lexus has always trumped them with a 4,975mm footprint, longer than even the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series.
Lexus continues with the existing three models from the last upgrade, which are the entry-level ES 250 EX, mid-spec ES 300h EX and a top grade ES 300h SE.
The rejuvenation is mild but the results quite dramatic in certain areas. The biggest styling change is at the front where its approach is now menacing but elegant through a lower bonnet and thicker L-motif plastic mesh on the spindle grille.
The LED headlamps also get a three-eye LED design while new and sportier 17- and 18-inch alloy wheel designs are introduced.
The interior is plush and trimmed in leather, with measured use of colourful wood veneers and metallic surrounds in the range-topping model. The dash has a driver-centric curved layout.
A mix of analogue and digital controls comprises a large LCD driver’s instrumentation panel and a 12.3-inch widescreen main display screen for the infotainment. The good news is that the quirky touchpad located between the seats is no longer the only way to access the infotainment; the screen is now touch-operated for better control.
On a wheelbase of 2,870mm the car seats four adults in comfort. Rear leg room is a strong point and you can stretch out properly back there.
A 10-way adjustable driver’s seat is standard for the range-topping ES 300 hybrid SE as is a wooden and heated steering wheel from the politburo-spec Lexus LS500.
All three ES versions are packed with features. These include keyless operation, a moonroof, Bluetooth, twin-front and twin-rear USB-C ports, DAB+ digital radio, a 10-speaker audio system for EX grades and a thumping Mark Levinson 17-speaker audio for the SE, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Hybrid models also get Lexus Navigation.
Cabin décor includes a new mauve trim insert option for the hybrid SE grade, while the EX-grades have new Hazel and Rich Cream trims. New exterior colours include Sonic Iridium, Sonic Chrome and Graphite Black.
The only technical change to the ES range is a fourth-generation, self-charging hybrid drive system in the ES 300 models, but all are powered by a 2.5l four-cylinder petrol engine with outputs of 152kW and 243Nm, connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. The non-hybrid ES 250 is rated with a 6.6l/100km fuel consumption and a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 9.1 seconds and top speed of 210km/h.
The two hybrid models have a total system output of 160kW and consume 4.6l/100km with acceleration of 8.9 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 180km/h.
The drive in both was the same wafting excellence we’ve come to expect from Lexus that encourages a laid-back driving style. The damping is still of the highest order in the segment.
Safety is taken care of by 10 airbags, blind spot monitor and the SE grade gets autonomous cruise control plus the full Lexus Safety System which further includes Lane Departure Alert, Pre-crash System, Lane Keep Assist and LED-Adaptive High-beam System. A rear-view camera with park distance control is standard across the range.
The 2021 Lexus ES comes standard with a seven-year/105,000km warranty and full maintenance plan.
Lexus ES 250 EX — R719,400
Lexus ES 300h EX — R774,400
Lexus ES 300h S — R948,400
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.