With the ES, Lexus is targeting the large sedan segment in the luxury space. However, can the ES shed its Camry roots and present the customers with a viable alternative to German luxury barges?
The large sedan segment is still an in-demand section in the luxury sector of automobile in India. Which is strange, because across virtually all other sections, demands for sedans is declining, with customers switching to SUV’s. However, it seems that luxury customers still like their large sedans, which is why the E-Class is the largest selling product for Mercedes in India and the 5 Series for BMW. Targeting this segment – and the relatively large sales numbers – is the ES 350 sedan from Lexus.
Based on the Camry Hybrid, the ES has also been given the full Lexus treatment to enhance both its luxury and desirability factor. So, once again, we have the large spindle grille dominating the design along with a smattering of tastefully applied chrome. The interiors too get the requisite upgrades with smatterings of wood and leather spread all over, including on the steering wheel. And, of course, there is the Mark Levinson sound system to soothe the time spent in traffic.
The ES too is a Hybrid product, like its sibling, the RX, and features a 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combo that produces 202bhp. Given the size and weight of the ES, this combo gives it quite sprightly performance. However, the CVT box – as always – turns out to be a disappointment for me. I hate the rubber-band effect that CVT’s produce and when pushing along on the mountain roads, that delay in power delivery as the gearbox’s search for the correct ratio can be quite frustrating. However, if you’re looking to be chauffeured around, the ES proves to be a good choice, with its excellent seats, capacious interiors and comfortable ride paired with excellent NVH. The rear seats, as a matter of fact are particularly comfortable, with the acres of legroom and sufficient width giving the car a feel more akin to sitting in a nice sofa in a comfortable drawing room.
However, the issue with the ES are two-fold. One, is the fact that it is based on the Camry and largely shares its styling with it too, and second is whether Indian customers will accept the premium pricing of a car intending to compete with the likes of the E-Class and the 5 series.
- Lexus ES 300h
Engine: 2,494cc / 4-cylinders / DOHC / 16 Valves
Electric Motor: Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
Battery: Sealed Nickel Metal Hydride
Transmission: E-CVT / Front Wheel Drive
Power: 202bhp (combined)
Torque: 213Nm @ 4,500rpm
Price: Rs. 55.27 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: The most silent, refined and comfortable everyday car on the market just took it up a notch. But it will cost you!