Lexus junior impresses on all fronts

Look at this car. It’s a big Lexus, right? Yes. But it’s not the big one – this is Lexus Junior – a large, luxury saloon with all the bells and whistles but at a fraction of the price you’d expect. No, this is not the full fat LS limo, it’s the Camry-based front-wheel drive ES – with most of the bells and whistles anyway.

Not quite a copy Rolex or Louis Vuitton either, this is a genuine Luxury Export US – it’s the real thing and perhaps then some. In fact, I came away quite impressed by it – this is a hell of a lot of car – especially for the money – and it’s come quite a long way since Toyota’s luxury arm first toyed with an affordable yet quite compelling compromise too.

When Lexus first introduced ES, it seemed a little too much Camry – Toyota’s lofty large saloon that was once on sale in SA for many years too – and perhaps a bit too little Lexus, but the luxury brand has addressed all that and this is now very much a Lexus. In fact you need to know those little nuances to tell them apart, so let’s just say it’s a pretty real Lexus nowadays!

Anyway, we enjoyed ample time with ES and came away quite convinced by it. Positioned as an alternative to the LS many may confuse it with. It looks, feels and rides close enough to the flagship to fully earn that association. And all this hybrid driveline does, is to drive that quality feel home even further – the petrol electric drivetrain adds a definite air of superiority to it...

On the road, ES may lack the kind of deft steering you’d expect of a 3 Series, but does that really matter? This car is all about copious space and all the luxury you could possibly cram into it. Not that it handles badly at all – it’s a solid car to drive and is most impressive on gas, while performance is solid too.

That all came together most impressively when four of us set off before dawn to the Koue Bokkeveld one fresh Saturday a couple of weeks ago. That road delivers every reasonable driving situation too and two of the guys that came along both mistakenly took this ES as an LS. It took a little explaining as to the differences and they were doubly impressed once they understood. I believe that is the point of this car.

Sure, this mini me is by no means as sophisticated as its flagship sibling, kinda like the rough step-sister who buffs up quite good to steal the show. Now what was her name again…? – Michele Lupini

QUICK TEST: Lexus ES250h
Engine: 160kW 220Nm 2495cc hybrid petrol I4
Drive: CVT automatic FWD
0-60km/h: 4.14 sec
0-100km/h: 8.76 sec   
0-160km/h: 21.07 sec
400m: 16.6sec @ 131km/h
80-120km/h: 4.5.44 sec
120-160km/h: 8.99 sec       
VMax: 180km/h 
Fuel: 4.6 l/100km
CO2: 104 g/km
Warranty/Service 7y 105K/7y 105Kkm
RATED:    85%