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With its expressive styling, comfortable space and improved driving dynamics, the all new Lexus ES250 is now better poised to take on its German peers.

08 Jun 2018

It seems Lexus wants the all new seventh generation ES Sedan to not only be a practical choice of car, but also an emotional one for buyers. This is something you never thought the luxury Japanese carmaker would have accomplished since it launched the first ES back in 1989.

The ES250 sports a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated samurai unit of an engine

Back then, the V6 front-wheel driven luxury sedan was created to appeal to the sort of mature audience who enjoyed spa retreats and retirement. This created a problem since competitors like the Audi A6 and the BMW 5 Series had the sort of appeal that attracted the affluent and younger buyers who enjoyed the finer and more exciting things in life.

Now, the new Lexus ES - like the sporty Lexus LC and the Lexus LS flagship sedan - represents a shift for the brand as it pursues a new identity that emphasises emotionality and individuality while ensuring the brand's culture and tradition have been retained at every possible level.
Oh, hello handsome!

For starters, the ES looks nothing like its predecessors. Instead, with its gaping spindle grille, striking headlamps that are underlined by LED daytime running lights and sleek sheet metal, it resembles more like the Lexus LS. That's also to say the ES has ample road presence now.

Bigger and newer: Not only has the new ES grown in size, the new spindle grille is also bigger on the car now

Adding to that is the wizardry Lexus designers did to the car to make it look sportier. The ES is now 65mm longer, 5mm lower and 45mm wider, with wheels that have been pushed closer to the corners thanks to a 50mm longer wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks.

On an average executive sedan, such a drastic change in dimensions may not have been achievable. But because the ES now rides on a new platform - the brand's Global Architecture-K (GA-K) platform, itself derived from Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) - significant changes for the better are made more realistic.

Up, up and away

One of the changes is the way the car drives.

The ES250 turns with precision, with a steering that's more talkative than before

Thanks to the new platform and a more talkative steering, the Lexus ES250 now possesses the kind of dynamism that was unheard of before. Mated to a decisive and accurate eight-speed gearbox, the sedan is no champion sprinter, even if it means the naturally aspirated 2.5-litre in-line four-pot powerplant produces 204bhp and a healthy dose of 247Nm of twisting force.

Instead, where it really stands out is the way it dances with elegance around long sweeping bends and sudden tight turns. Body roll is kept well in check as you tackle twisties with absolute gusto while steering response is near flawless and on par with what you would experience in a sporty German coupe. And while all this is happening, you feel all if not most of the tarmac as the ES250 swallows them.

That's not to say the ES250 has decided to put on her red cape and transform into a super sports sedan overnight. The car you see here manages to retain its silky comfort despite its vast improvement in driving dynamics. Driving it in a relaxing and gentlemanly manner, the car is as smooth and comfortable as they come, with external noises kept well at bay even at illegal speed limits.

The car is a smooth criminal when driven in a relaxing and gentlemanly manner

The inner heart is all that matters...

Further enhancing the ES' luxurious and comfy disposition is the cabin. As with the exterior, everything here clearly shows a certain level of thinking as far as design, materials used and layout are concerned.

The trimmings, while minimal in my ES250 test car, are the best in business and in its class. The 12.3-inch screen, operated but the updated Remote Touch Interface (RTI), is easy to use and lag-free. During my drive, the navigation as well as Bluetooth systems - both of which can usually be a pain to handle in higher-priced cars - were straightforward and synced with my iPhone without any fuss respectively.

While these are small issues, such little things can escalate from being mere annoying to downright unpleasant, especially when you're doing mundane commutes.

Passengers at the back will get to enjoy ample room all round

Niggling grievances like these accumulate, mind you, like a small broken peanut or a kiwi seed stuck in your tooth despite you using your worn-out tongue to get them out for hours.

Elsewhere, the ES doesn't disappoint too. Space is the royal order for the day, with three rear Singaporean passengers enjoying ample room all round. Boot capacity, while not the best in class, remains to be sufficient at 473 litres. Both the Audi A6 and the BMW 5 Series, on the other hand, enjoy a bigger 530-litre space.

Don't be too quick to judge just yet

Is the lack of boot space compared to its peers big enough a factor to sway you from the Lexus ES? I don't reckon it should, since you could still throw in three, perhaps even four, golf bags inside.

473 litres of boot space is more than enough to swallow a couple of golf bags

Expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year, the ES250 is the one car that beckons you to change your perception of what used to be an ordinary executive sedan.

No longer is it just another luxurious car with a touch of Japanese sake. Instead, the Lexus ES250 has undergone a change to become a smooth Japanese Rolls-Royce that blends nicely with a swanky 35-year old Yamazaki whisky.

Talk about being a practical and emotional choice of car.
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