When you think of a luxury executive saloon – the German brands come to mind. For many years, the Jerry’s has conquered the market with its sporty styling and engine refinement putting trust in the eyes of the market and sidelining the Japs, classifying it only as an alternative here in Malaysia. As a car company, Lexus stands relatively young as compared to many others but it has managed to capture the American market with its impressive levels of comfort and luxury refinement. So.. what is it that we are missing out on?
The brand only surfaced here in 2007 and since then, it has shown its unrivalled ownership experience to the market. Before hand, Lexus were only brought in by grey importers, usually upon special order by people who knew the brand very well. Just like many others, I’ve always believed that Lexus is just a rather extravagant and fancy iteration of what basically stands as a Toyota underneath. But the very moment I stepped into the ES, it unravelled my thoughts – “How have I been so wrong all this while?”.
Stepping inside the Lexus ES felt as if I got out of a fighter plane.. and into a mid-size business jet. Enlightening! The cabin is so quiet, you could hear your hair grow inside. Of course, this was all the result of endless time fiddling with my car’s exhaust system, I have made it rather extensively deafening but the cabin certainly demonstrated a level of quietness that I have never experienced before. And again.. No matter how adamant an enthusiast can be about a firm ride and going around a bend as fast as the laws of physics grants, there is no doubt that it can unquestionably be uncomfortable. Being in the car most definitely questioned my brash decisions on performance, because sitting in a car as quiet and as comfortable as the Lexus ES was undeniably pleasant.
So, what does the Lexus have to offer? On the performance side, you can get the ES in two different engine variants, either a 2.5-litre Hybrid dubbed as the ES300h or the one we have here, the 2.5-litre petrol powered ES250. The heart produces a respectable 181bhp and 235nm of torque at 4100rpm which sounds comparatively sluggish and annoying. Happily however, we are glad to say that on the driver’s seat, it doesn’t feel as such. With a Zerotohundred time of 9.1 seconds, the power is adequate to cater for everyday comfort and drivability. What we liked most about the ES250 was the power delivery and how smooth the motor runs.
The main issue with the Lexus ES is the fact that it looks too similar to a Camry. When you spend almost RM300k on a car; the least you’d want is for people to think your car is like the one their uncle drives. Put the badge aside – from the front, it could easily be mistaken for a Camry. But look into the history and understand that the ES underneath had always been based on the Camry. The 6th generation however is based on a Toyota Avalon (not sold in asian market) which is slightly longer, allowing a roomier interior on the ES.
Its true that the Lexus ES doesn’t have much to offer on aesthetics; but if you think about it.. the most important aspect of a car is the interior. Why? You spend most of your time living in the interior in the time you own the vehicle; and if you can’t enjoy the interior experience, then it’ll be difficult to like the car.
Lexus takes pride as a luxury brand in the market and living up to the name; they have spared no expense on the ES. As much as we enjoy performance oriented rides; its a nice change of pace to experience a sedate and luxurious interior from time to time. Sitting on the drivers seat, the ES250 feels like a proper premium item; bringing together a mix blend of high quality touches like walnut wood trims and contrast stitched leather that is easily appreciated.
Thanks to some premium insulation; the Lexus ES250 can bring its occupants to a state of sedation that is unboundedly pleasant and gratifying especially after a hard day at work on the drive home. Fitted with an infotainment system that is friendly enough to be operated by a man; it will keep you entertained along in every journey you decide to make with it.
However we did find the GPS to be a little confusing to use at first; especially when entering addresses and point of interests. It will require a bit of time to get to use to the system; as it is not as straight forward to use but the GPS lady has a pleasant voice to keep you calm.
Yes – we still think the Lexus ES is not a very good looking machine; and despite having a sports mode, it is not the kind of car that’ll do sporty very well. There are other cars in the price range that will do fast and sporty; and give a better essence of presence on the exterior like the Mercedes C-Class or BMW 3 Series; but non of them will be able to do ‘luxury’ like the Lexus ES can.
If you can look pass through all those factors – what you have is a no-compromise, lavishly equipped, luxurious and comfortable saloon that is surprisingly frugal and very well built.
Car: Lexus ES250 Luxury
Engine: 2.5 litre 4 Cylinder | 181bhp and 235nm
Zerotohundred: 9.1 seconds
Top Speed: 208km/h (as tested)
Price: RM 279,800.00