|+ A sense of luxury||– Camera screens|
|+ Digital exterior mirrors||– Gear lever|
|+ Sound insulation||– Trunk control|
Our Lexus ES300h has something we haven’t seen much in passenger cars: a camera instead of side mirrors. Still, it wasn’t these cameras that impressed us the most during our test drive with the Lexus ES300h. This car is all about details.
What is the Lexus ES300h?
The letters ES on the Lexus ES300h stand for ‘executive sedan’: a car for the director. The elegant appearance leaves no doubt about this. The classic Lexus grille and its chrome frame make it immediately clear what the Lexus ES300h stands for. This is a luxury car, especially in the President Line version that we drive.
Seen from the side, the design is quite ordinary: some will recognize BMW in it. The Lexus ES300h gets its look mainly from small features, such as the beautifully designed headlights and taillights. Despite the elegant appearance, the design also has something sporty: the roof is steeply sloping and there is even a real spoiler on the trunk lid.
However, the Lexus ES300h isn’t built to impress others: you’re buying this car for yourself. Most impressive is the luxurious interior. Our test car’s chocolate brown color and cognac-colored interior radiate a warm glow even in the dead of winter. This is what a Japanese Lexus is: every detail has been thought out. Wherever you look, whatever you touch: everything gives off a sense of luxury.
How does he drive?
The Lexus ES300h drives as a luxury car should: very solid. The car feels indestructible. Maintenance is excellent in all cases. It helps that the Lexus ES300h weighs 1755 kg. Yet at no point does the car feel bulky or heavy. With great confidence you point anywhere, in all situations you are in full control.
Due to the high insulation, noise from the outside does not penetrate into the interior. In addition, everything about the car is silent, right down to the special low-noise rims. The comfortable suspension absorbs all the vibrations, without the car feeling like it’s floating. When you drive the Lexus ES300h, you seem to be in a bubble. An excellent Mark Levinson sound system with 17 speakers reinforces this feeling. The outside world feels so far away that you sometimes forget you are a road user.
The Lexus ES300h is a compact hybrid: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine works together with an electric motor for an output of 218 hp. This turns out to be more than enough for this car. Perfect for a smooth but dignified driving style: acceleration is smooth but neat. When driving, the gasoline engine shuts down frequently, so you can drive fully electric. You won’t notice anything about this change as a driver, but it helps to achieve a good experience: even during our winter driving test, we drove 1 to 15 in the Lexus ES300h.
If you want to drive in a sporty way, switch to sport mode. The character of the Lexus ES300h changes immediately. The counter turns white and red and the accelerator pedal reacts immediately to each touch. The car suddenly pushes you into your seat during acceleration, the engine in front starts screeching dangerously and a smile appears on your face. A smart gentleman named Lexus suddenly shows that he is not a fun-loving loon.
However, the Lexus ES300h is all about comfort. The heated and ventilated seats are comfortable. Each occupant controls their own temperature and music volume. Despite the sloping roof, you are also comfortable in the back: the rear seat can even be raised 8 degrees. If you move the front seat forward, there is one meter of legroom. That’s why this version is called the President’s Line.
Many details add to the feeling of luxury. The buttons on the steering wheel have a subtle design. Boxes are opened quietly. The lights turn on after a light touch and you set the temperature with the cool toggle switches. When the seat is heated, it doesn’t get so hot that it feels uncomfortable. Even if you send the Lexus over the lines, the lane assistant responds weakly. No squeaks or steering wheel corrections, just a slight vibration in the steering wheel and a quiet sound, like a butler coughing and saying “I’m sure you didn’t mean that, sir.”
Everything on the Lexus ES300h seems to have been thought twice. The window opens and closes completely silently. The windshield wipers stop wiping when the door opens, so the passenger doesn’t get wet. The letters on the driving lanes button are glow-in-the-dark, so you can read them in the dark. Every time you come across such a trick, you feel special.
In a well-thought-out car, finding weaknesses is a challenge. You will soon get into the details. For example, you cannot operate the gear lever immediately after starting, which only works after a few seconds. It looks like the program hasn’t started yet, making it feel like you’re running a computer instead of a machine. Moving with poker is also a little heavier than it should be for a gentleman.
The tailgate can be operated by a sensor under the rear bumper, but in our week at the Lexus, we couldn’t afford a decent kick motion. Sweeping your foot under the bumper a couple of times doesn’t give the luxury image that is Lexus. The alternative is a little button under the edge, but you should always look for it. However, if these are the shortcomings you found after a week of driving the Lexus ES300h, then you can draw conclusions from it.
As standard, the Lexus ES300h is equipped with all the driver assistance and safety features. Adaptive cruise control, lane assist, stealth assist: everything works smoothly and subtly. The 12.3-inch screen on the dashboard is powered by a touchpad, which works very well. The large head-up display shows all the information clearly on the windshield. The optional triple LED headlights provide so much light at night that other road users will thank you.
A separate word needs to be said about the digital mirrors of the Lexus ES300h. The standard exterior mirrors have been replaced by cameras on the stems and two small screens on the dashboard. These aren’t well integrated into the dashboard: people who don’t look closely will think you’ve embedded two navigation systems.
Driving with these digital mirrors is very quick. The cameras are not affected by rain or dirt and always produce clear images, even in the dark. There are guide lines in the picture to help you. The camera also zooms out when backing up or exiting, so you can see more of your surroundings. Sometimes you miss the outline, because with regular mirrors you have to lean forward to see something in the mirrors. For the camera, of course, this is useless.
Lexus ES300h test drive conclusion
The details and materials used in the Lexus ES300h give you a sense of luxury and continue to surprise you. In addition, this car also has a sporty side, which you can handle if you need. You can completely relax in the Lexus ES300h. During our test drive we drove several times in the evening just to relax and listen to music.
Our test drive with the Lexus ES300h shows that the Germans aren’t the only ones who can make a luxury sedan. Those who don’t blindly look at their neighbors will see that the Lexus ES300h is very competitively priced. The Price starting at 55,245 Euros, while the top model we drive costs 70,485 Euros. At this price, you can’t beat all the options on a BMW. In addition, the Lexus ES300h is less loud and more refined than its German siblings.