Lexus ES300h: A Magic Flute Experience

 

2013 Lexus ES 300h gaycarboys BANNER

2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury (right) and ES 350 Luxury

2013 Lexus ES 300h gaycarboys (31)2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury

2013 Lexus ES 300h gaycarboys (26)

 

2013 Lexus ES 350 Sports Luxury (ECO mode)2013 Lexus ES 350 Luxury

2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury

2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury

2013 Lexus ES 300h Luxury2013 Lexus ES 300h gaycarboys (28)

2013 Lexus ES 300h gaycarboys (27)2013 Lexus ES 300h gaycarboys (29)

Yes Yes Yes oh YES: limo-like feel, well appointed, economical, spacious cabin

Oh dear me no: woodgrain looks cheap, no cut-off for rear controls

Do you remember an ad for Lexus from many years ago featuring “The Magic Flute” playing in the background. We watch the huge LS 430 taking bends much faster than it has any right to go, then it stops. The door opens, and a pair of posh black shoes step onto the pavement. He pops the boot where a vintage turntable is seen playing a record. The driver impeccably dressed carefully lifts the needle off. I can’t imagine why Bang and Olufsen didn’t invent some weird in-dash record player, it make you long for instant gratification of your Iphone. With it, you can stream music straight to the cars audio system while your phone sits in your bag, and you can carry your entire collection in your pocket. Had you taken that many records with you, you’d have needed to own a school bus.

Lexus has taken a different design direction of late and as a result, the frumpy frocks are gone. Now there are luscious exteriors, and impeccable cabins which have been lavished with obsessive care and attention. The ES makes a return to Australia after a hiatus of some years and fits between the IS and the GS. It is a big car with big presence.

If you hold your head just right, you can see a touch of the four-door sports coupe which Mercedes, BMW and Audi have cashed in on, except Lexus is doing it for half the price. The exterior is classy and elegant with the top hybrid getting Xenon headlights and our base model making do with halogen. It isn’t as though you would notice. Try as I might, I just can’t think of the base ES, the 300h, as a pov-model. Interestingly, the bottom of the range ES is a hybrid. I’m a fairly recent hybrid convert and Toyota/Lexus’s Synergy drive is the grand-daddy of them all. You can run your car silently just on batteries up to about 30-ish KPH if there is enough charge. The system will tell you if the power is insufficient. All kinds of flashing happens, and noises come then without further fanfare the petrol motor cuts in. Unless you’re unless max power, the cabin is as silent as it was solely on electric power. The battery charges when you coast, and ramps up that charging when you brake. The rest of the time the system switches between charging and driving the wheels. Once upon a time naysayers pooh-poohed hybrids and the environmentally disastrous batteries. Much was made of the amount energy taken to manufacture the batteries, then to get rid of them when they are depleted. They had apoplexies from the cockpits of their 6 litre V8 SUVs but after a few gins they calmed down. There were also criticisms made of the life span of the batteries too, I know, I was one of those critics. However, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that most of the batteries in the earliest hybrids in Australia are still performing as they were intended. The warranty is now 8 years, up from 5 years but most packs are lasting far longer.

The claims of fuel use are usually exaggerated beyond all recognition, but in this case it is pretty close. For a start, the Lexus runs on budget-priced 91 ron fuel according to the launch-day press release, which is unheard of in a luxury car. I note with some concern that the website states 95/98 ron. Perhaps one was a misprint.

The claimed economy is 5.5 l/100k which again is unheard of in a large luxury car. The 151kw output seems modest, but you’ll get to 100kph in 8.5 seconds, almost Hot-Hatch territory. The torque on the electric motor is available from the second you put your foot down so is almost a second quicker than the old petrol Gen 4 ES. The steering is uber-light with an ethereal feel at parking speeds, and sharp with loads of road feel at highway speeds. I could imagine doing a long leisurely road trip of a few thousand K’s without feeling like I’d been beaten with a baseball bat. I’ve done such trips in luxury Euro-snobs and was near crippled upon reaching my destination.

2013 Lexus ES 300h Luxury2013 Lexus ES 300h gaycarboys (30)

 

There are many things to like about the classy interior. The leather feels good to touch and it has been 2013 Lexus ES 350 Luxury boot spacelavished on almost every surface. The knobs have that gentle resistance you get from quality European audio gear. It isn’t the obvious that gets my vote though, it is the thoughtful way it is all put together that is most endearing. For example, the analogue clock looks almost art deco and the large LCD screen is set back into the dash so that reflection from the sun won’t obliterate your view. You input data via touch or the “mouse” joystick. I’ll admit the joystick takes quite some getting used to but once you do, selection is as quick as a flash. And, with no fanfare or crowd waves, the seat slides back when you press the “stop” button. It gives you all the space you need to get in and out, especially appreciated by those who have previously been crippled on long distance journeys in Euro-snobs. Even the boot lid is electric on the base model.

2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxury

 

We drove lots of highway K’s and only occasionally does the CVT make the petrol motor protest. The rest of2013 Lexus ES 300h Luxury the time you don’t know if you’re on battery power or not because the double glazing keeps all but the most persistent noises outside where they belong. You can view which motor is doing what via a small graphic in one of the menus which will be displayed on the driver’s LCD monitor. I wouldn’t bother because you’re meant to be watching the road. If using a phone, or watching tv, makes the state nannies spin, the synergy monitor would make their heads come away.

I started to read all about the platform, and transmissions, and planetary gears and it was all double Dutch, but it was the suspension description that made me giggle like a school girl. I had no idea what a “counter-wound coil spring” was but the OMG prize for “what are you talking about” goes to “rose-joint mounted stabiliser bar”. I stopped reading the ridiculous gobbledygook at that point. After you’ve done a few thousand kilometres, a rosebud joint isn’t going to seem important.

We had a variety of passengers on board to source as many opinions as possible. By far the least 2013 Lexus ES 300h Sports Luxuryentertaining was my hubby who came with me on a school run. He and an 8 year old found the rear controls. It made the trip home akin to Chinese water torture because you can alter far too many functions from back there. On several occasions I was heard to say “Don’t make me come back there” and I realised I sounded like my parents. I was less than amused. The 8 year olds mother chuckled and said “it comes to us all in the end”. I got very grumpy.

Everyone who rode in the ES loved it, especially the gay ones. One, who works as an I.T. guru in banking, insisted on being dropped at his head office’s main door. He said it was just because of the short walk to the lifts, but I suspect it’s because the managers take their morning coffee just around that time.

Many thought it was as good as a BMW or Mercedes Benz and some thought it actually was a BMW or a Mercedes Benz. Whilst I realise Lexus would like to be admired in her own right, she could do worse than to be compared favourably to the premium Germans. I’ll bet the premium Germans would be far less happy about it. They are terribly precious, if you know what I mean.

As I pulled into the top secret Lexus HQ, in The Shire, I felt pangs of regret because I didn’t want to give it back. I don’t find many cars I don’t want to give back so make of that what you will. “Waft” is my word du jour and for the first time in a long time I can’t think of a single thing I’d change. I like the ES just the way it is thanks very much.

Would I buy one? Yes

Model

ES 350

ES 300h

Engine

2GR-FE

2AR-FXE

Capacity

3456cc

2494cc

Engine type

All-alloy 60-degree V6, 24 valves, double overhead cams (per bank) with dual VVT-i

All-alloy Atkinson cycle in-line 4 with double overhead cams, dual VVT-i and cooled EGR

Fuel type

95 RON (ULP) or higher (recommended)

Bore x stroke (mm)

94 x 83

90 x 98

Compression ratio

10.8:1

12.5:1

Max power

Petrol engine

204kW@6200rpm

118kW@5700rpm

Combined (hybrid)

151kW

Max. torque (petrol only)

346Nm @ 4700rpm

213Nm @ 4500rpm

Hybrid system

Type

Series/parallel, full hybrid

System output

105kW

Torque

270Nm

Electric generator (MG2)

AC synchronous, permanent magnet

Voltage (V)

650

High-voltage battery

Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)

Voltage (V)

244.8

Transmission

Type

U660E six-speed automatic, electronically controlled with sequential shift

P314 electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT) with sequential shiftmatic system

Gear ratios

First

3.300

Six-step CVT

Second

1.900

Third

1.420

Fourth

1.000

Fifth

0.713

Sixth

0.608

Reverse

4.138

Final drive ratio

3.458:1

Suspension

Type

Front

Double-wishbone with coil springs and gas-pressurised dampers. Adaptive variable suspension on F Sport and Sports Luxury

Rear

Independent multi-link with rear-located toe control arm and separate coil springs and dampers

Driveline

Driven wheels

Front drive

Brakes

Front

296mm x 28mm ventilated disc

Rear

281mm x 10mm solid disc

Additional features

ABS

Electronic Brake-force Distribution

Brake Assist

Active Traction Control

Vehicle Stability Control

HAC (on ES 300h)

Steering

Type

Road-speed sensitive electric power-assisted steering

Turns lock-to-lock

2.9

Minimum turning diameter – tyre (m)

11.4

Wheels and tyres

Rims

17x7J Aluminium

Tyres

215/55R17 93V

Body/exterior dimensions

Overall length (mm)

4900

Overall width (mm)

1820

Overall height (mm)

1450

Wheelbase (mm)

2820

Track front (mm)

1590

Track rear (mm)

1575

Weights/loads

Kerb weight (kg) (Sports Luxury)

1630-1665

1685-1705

Capacities

Fuel tank (L)

65

65

Seating

Five

Boot Space (L)

490

425

Performance

Max. speed (km/h)

210

180

0-100 km/h (sec)

7.4

8.5

Fuel consumption (L/100 km)*

Combined

9.5

5.5

Urban

13.5

6.0

Extra urban

7.2

5.2

CO2 emissions (g/km)*

Combined

224

130

Drivetrain

Model

Price

Enhancement Pack

Enhancement Pack Specification

ES 300h

Luxury

$63,000

+$3,000

Pre-Collison Safety System and Active Cruise Control

Sports Luxury

$72,000

N/A

ES 350

Luxury

$65,000

N/A

Sports Luxury

$74,000

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