From its humble origins 29 years ago — when it started life as a tarted-up Toyota Camry — the Lexus ES has charted a steady course of evolution, and it’s now the cornerstone of the brand’s saloon line-up. The only “L”-badged offering that outsells it globally is the RX SUV.
Lexus used the Beijing motor show in April to whip the covers off its longer, wider seventh-gen ES (designated XV70), and now the newbie has landed on our shores. It’s built on the Global Architecture - K (GA-K) platform that’s claimed to deliver sharper dynamics than the outgoing model, thanks to torsional stiffness that matches the LC coupé.
Unlike its rear-driven IS, GS and LS siblings, the ES retains its front-wheel-drive format, but the seventh-gen model is also offered in F Sport guise, which brings adaptive suspension, a beefy 19in wheel/tyre package and aluminium trim highlights in the cabin.
However, the ES is more cruiser than sportster, and in this respect we expect the newbie to again serve up the silence and supple ride (more so in the non-F Sport versions) that has made the model such a hit over the years — especially in the limo fleet sector.
In fact, Lexus claims the latest ES ups the ante in the safety and refinement stakes. The company also says there’s more sprawling room inside the cabin.
Lexus has been gradually forging its way into the hybrid domain over the past decade, and the ES now extends this trend via the ES 300h, which packs an electric motor to supplement its 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine for a combined output of 215bhp. This combo allegedly delivers strong off-the-mark acceleration, ultra-quiet progress in stop-start traffic (when only the electric motor is called into action) and a towering touring range. Lexus claims the ES 300h can cover up to 1,205km on a full tank, but we imagine that’s if you drive it with your tiptoes.
The ES 300h comes with a CVT (continuously variable transmission), and while we’re not fans of these units, we’ll reserve judgement until we drive the vehicle.
In case hybrids and CVTs aren’t your thing (or isn’t within your budget), there’s also the ES 250 (200bhp 2.5-four-pot with eight-speed auto) and ES 350 (300bhp/355Nm 3.5-litre V6 with eight-speed auto). Pricing starts at Dh195,000 for the base-model ES 250.