The 176 hp / 131 kW engine used in the ES 300h is also slightly different from a conventional four-stroke in that it uses a slightly different cycle that produces less heat. This Atkinson cycle works by reintroducing cooled exhaust gases into the combustion chambers to further reduce engine temperatures. However, importantly, what does this all mean for the driving experience?
It’s always a bit of a strange experience being at the wheel of a hybrid compared to a car which has a traditional internal combustion engine setup. This is because when you hit the start/stop button, there’s no engine burble or exhaust popping noises to signify that the car is up and running, and this takes a bit of getting used to.
You glide away from your parking location in complete silence, which is useful when you want to head out early without waking the neighbours. The power delivery is responsive when you put your foot down (0 to 62 mph is achieved in 8.9 seconds), and gear changes come courtesy of the E-CVT (electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission) which has an infinite number of ratios at its disposal. By constantly analysing vehicle speed, road conditions, engine power and driver input, the E-CVT selects the optimal (most efficient) gear ratio for that precise moment.
It’s an ideal box for petrol-electric hybrids, because, in the absence of fixed gear ratios, the engine can be operated at its most efficient speed to either propel the car or recharge the batteries. However, just because it has the E-CVT box doesn’t mean you can’t change gear yourself, as there are paddles behind the steering wheel to do so.
The Lexus ES provides excellent all-round visibility and is a refined cruiser. We took it on both the motorway and the A-roads as we made our way through the East Sussex countryside, and road noise is kept to a minimum, so the cabin is a calm place to be. It’s also a very smooth ride on the tarmac due to the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, which has been designed to deliver optimal ride quality and precise handling on any surface.
AVS also brings different selectable driving modes, namely Sport S and Sport S+. The former sharpens the throttle response and transmission, whereas the latter adjusts the throttle, transmission and steering parameters along with the adaptive dampers. Other gadgets that we made good use of during our time with the ES included adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control and road sign assist.
With this model being a hybrid, the WLTP combined mpg figures range between a very respectable 48.7 to 53.2. Our 270-mile round-trip across the East Sussex countryside returned an average of 46.4 mpg on the regular driving mode, which only used about a half a tank of fuel (about 25 litres), so all-in-all, this is a pretty economical and great value car.
The ES 300h is a good, solid all-rounder and is a very credible alternative to some of the more natural choices from Lexus’ predominantly Swedish and German competitors. With low emissions making their way higher up the wish lists of car buyers, and combine this with a smart executive saloon packed full of equipment, this model should definitely be a worthy contender in its class.
Lexus ES 300h F Sport – Specification at a glance:
- Price as tested: £39,075 (including Sonic White metallic paint costing £920)
- Engine: 2.5-litre, 176 hp, four-cylinder, in-line, Atkinson cycle
- Full system power: 215 hp / 160 kW
- Top speed: 112 mph
- 0 – 62 mph: 8.9 seconds
- Transmission: Hybrid automatic E-CVT transmission
- WLTP Fuel Consumption – Combined: Test Energy Low (TEL): 48.49 / Test Energy High (TEH): 53.55 mpg
- NEDCeq CO2 Emissions Combined (with 19-inch wheels): 106 g/km
- Fuel tank capacity: 50 litres
- Boot space – VDA: 454 litres
- Close rivals: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and the Volvo S90
Lexus ES 300h – Where and How?
For more information on the Lexus ES 300h, visit www.lexus.co.uk.
Check out our Instagram page for pictures of our road test in East Sussex and our destination, Rye.
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