Earlier this year, Lexus launched the GS, a new, more dynamic version of a car that the company hoped would capture the imagination of those looking for a bit of dynamic excitement with a hint of luxury. It highlight Lexus’ current move towards making cars that are a bit more, well, exciting than those of years gone by.
However, Lexus became the success that it now is by way of comfort, so it needs to keep the old guard happy. And here’s how it’s doing that – the new ES. It sits in the same segment as the GS, taking on the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but it’s less focused on dynamism and more on space and luxury.
Underneath, the new ES is built on the same platform as the Toyota Avalon, which means front wheel drive. Eyebrows raise among the petrolheads at the UAE unveiling, but as chief engineer Toshio Asahi points out, there’s the GS for those that want a rear wheel drive experience. He assures us though that the ES will still be enjoyable to drive.
Asahi, a 21-year veteran at Toyota, set to work on the new ES only after taking a 1600-kilometre drive in the old car, once he was given the assignment. He wanted to get a feel for the car’s character and followed up that epic drive went around the world, visiting customers to find out how they used their previous generation ESs. Then he came back, and rustled up the car you see here.
“During the long journey in the previous generation ES I found that the comfort, ride and quietness were excellent but handling and performance were not so good compared to competitors,” Asahi said. “The challenge for the new generation was the keep the comfort and quietness but also to improve the performance.”
Priority has also been given to a more dynamic design and rear leg room – hence the move from previous Camry-based ES to the new Avalon-based machine. The ES is considerable stiffened compared to the Toyota to give a better driving experience.
Two versions are available – the ES 250 with its 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, and the ES 350 with a 3.5-litre V6, boasting 181hp and 272hp respectively.
The new Lexus ES is on sale now, priced from $42,200 to $59,897.