The Lexus ES comes to the UK for the first time as a stunning alternative to the traditional German mainstream but its roomy cabin is let down by a confusing infotainment system
The Lexus ES is a posh executive saloon that provides an eye-catching and unusual alternative to the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class. It replaces the old GS, but looks much more dramatic thanks to a whopping great grille, plenty of interesting creases and headlights sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel.
This means you won’t mistake the Lexus ES for a German saloon in the golf club car park. It looks meaner and more aggressive from every angle – especially in F Sport guise with its bigger alloy wheels and extra air intakes slashed into the front and rear bumpers.
Step inside, and the ES’ double-decker dashboard and brushed-metal trims look great and feel just as solid as anything you’ll find in a BMW, Audi or Mercedes. Sure, there are a few harder plastics buried down in the door bins and right up by the infotainment display which you won;t find in the Germans. But, this isn’t a deal-breaker.
Sadly, the Lexus ES’ infotainment system could be. The screen is nice and sharp, but the haphazard menus and irritating trackpad control are much harder to use than the touchscreens and scroll wheels you get in most German saloons. Good job it comes with Bluetooth and satellite navigation as standard.
You can’t fault the Lexus ES’ superbly comfy front seats. You get eight-way electric adjustment as standard and top-spec cars even come with 10-way adjustment and heating and cooling features. There’s ample space for tall drivers to stretch out too, and you get a good view out through the ES’ large windscreen and tall side windows.
These large windows also help make the back seats feel impressively roomy. Passengers get much more leg room than in the 5 Series, A6 and E-Class and the seats themselves are soft and supportive in all the right places. Very tall adults will struggle slightly for headroom, but at least the Lexus ES’ wide cabin comes with enough shoulder room and foot space to carry three adults side-by-side with ease.
Things aren’t quite as good when it comes to packing the boot, though. The ES’ boot is noticeably smaller than you get in a BMW, Audi or Mercedes, but at least it comes with a ski hatch for carrying long, thin items.
Push it hard and the engine will be whining almost as much as you trying to operate its infotainment system, but overall the ES is a credible alternative to the German elite
There’s less engine choice than you get in the A6, 5 Series and E-Class. In fact, there’s only one – a 2.5-litre petrol paired with a hybrid system. This means the Lexus ES can cruise around town using just electric power so it’s dead quiet. It’s also pretty economical because the electric motors help the petrol deliver diesel-like economy on motorways.
Sadly, as soon as you give the accelerator a sharp prod, the car makes a loud whining noise. It feels relatively spritely for a large saloon, but it’s frustrating to have every surge forward accompanied by such an irritating drone.
Still, the Lexus ES is fairly quiet when cruising on motorways and wafts over all but the most heavily pockmarked roads. The steering is relatively light which is great when parking and the ES barely leans tight corners – especially F Sport models with their adjustable suspension. Despite this, you’d never call it sporty.
It is safe, though. The ES comes with loads of kit as standard that costs extra in German alternatives. And, you get automatic emergency braking that can even stop the car automatically in reverse
In fact, spec up a German alternative to the same level as the Lexus ES and you’d end up spending considerably more. As a result, it makes a very credible choice – providing you can get to grips with its peculiar infotainment system. Check out the latest Lexus ES deals from carwow to see how much you can save.