Hands down, the Lexus ES 300h was the best car I’ve ever driven.
It lived up to the Lexus reputation of being one of the most “perfect” cars around. So perfect, in fact, that it’s been trying to reshape the brand to gain a more dynamic appeal.
For me, the drive proved that getting behind the wheel is not always about power and “feeling” it, but about how comfortable and relaxed you can be.
In these terms, the sixth generation ES 300h far surpassed any other vehicle I’ve driven. The size was also perfect, for while the LS 600h is one of the most majestic and graceful cars around, the 300h seemed ideal for everyday use.
I felt my hands did little more than effortlessly guide the engine, while my right foot had only to touch the pedals to accelerate or break. And the turns, no matter how sharp, were no problem at all.
|Design: ★★★★★ / Interior: ★★★★★ / Engine: ★★★★★ / Fuel economy: ★★★★★ / Cost and A/S: ★★★★★|
The high fuel efficiency of 14 kilometers per liter on this hybrid added to my affection, as it meant here was a car satisfying on so many different levels including performance, convenience and power.
I say power because contrary to what some may believe of the Lexus, the ES goes off like a shot and climbs hills like a pro ― provided that you don’t go off road, of course.
The legacy of the ES is perhaps why it’s so perfect. First launched in 1989, the ES has stayed with Toyota for quite a while now, recording more than 1.4 million sales globally.
They understandably account for one-fourth of all Lexus sales.
In Korea, the first fourth-generation Lexus ES was launched in 2001. It sold over 25,000 as of the end of August to take up almost half of total Lexus sales here.
The ES 300h is the first hybrid from the ES lineup.
It’s fitted with a 2.5 liter engine and an upgraded hybrid system that pounds out a horsepower of 200, and the official fuel economy is at 16.4 kilometers per liter.
The cabin was superbly sophisticated, and thanks to the elongated wheelbase, leg room was more than enough (nobody in the back was complaining).
I was delighted to find that there were minimal gadgets and knobs to keep you from being distracted, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the joystick for navigating the touch screen. Still, I was able to work it much easily than the rotund mouse Hyundai opts for.
In Korea, the Lexus ES comes in four trims, with prices ranging from 49 million won ($46,000) to 61 million won, which I think is reasonable for an entry-level luxury sedan.
I admit, the ES may not be the hottest machine on the road in modern terms, but the lines and curves are classic and refined.
Last but not least, I guarantee it will deliver maximum comfort and relaxation.
By Kim Ji-hyun (email@example.com)