- New dynamic capabilities reflected in an emotional design
- Built on the new Global Architecture-K platform, giving excellent body rigidity and design freedom
- First ES model to be offered in the UK and Western and Central Europe
- Introduction of the first ES F Sport model
- Second generation Lexus Safety System + standard for UK models
- ES 300h with new, fourth-generation self-charging hybrid powertrain available in the UK and Western and Central Europe from January 2019
After six generations of success in the mid-size saloon category, the new, seventh-generation Lexus ES is forging a new, more ambitious path. Long renowned for its comfort, refinement and luxury appointments, the new ES builds on its strengths with an all-new chassis that allows for a more dynamic exterior design and even better driving performance.
It is a further expression of Lexus’ design direction and commitment to crafting vehicles that provide more excitement, emotional connection and passion, helping bring the brand’s vision for its future to a wider audience. Traditional buyers will find the new ES more spacious, quieter and safer than ever before, while a new generation of customers will be introduced to a saloon with sharpened performance, class-leading safety technology and a level of craftsmanship rarely found in this market segment.
The seventh generation ES will be the first to be introduced to the UK and markets in Western Europe. It follows the new LS flagship saloon and LC coupe in carrying forward a new chapter in Lexus design that has a much stronger emotional quality. The eye-catching styling, made possible by the use of an all-new Global Architecture-K (GA-K) platform, will have particular appeal to customers in the region, together with a more engaging driving experience and even higher safety provisions. Available from January 2019, the UK range will feature the ES 300h, powered by a new self-charging hybrid system. ES 200, ES 250 and ES 350 petrol engine models will be available in certain other European markets from September 2018.
Lexus achieved close to 75,000 sales in Europe in 2017, its highest total yet, marking a fourth consecutive year of growth. In the UK the brand followed up a strong performance in 2017 with a sales volume increase of 4.6% in the first quarter of 2018. The new ES saloon will be a core model in Lexus’s line-up, contributing to the brand’s ambition to reach 100,000 annual new car sales in Europe by 2020.
New dimensions in ES design
The new ES is built on the all-new Global Architecture-K (GA-K) platform, giving Lexus the opportunity to explore the limits of mid-size luxury saloon design. The car is longer (+65 mm), lower (-5 mm) and wider (+45 mm) than its predecessor. The longer wheelbase (+50 mm) allows the wheels to be pushed closer to the car’s corners, with wider front and rear tracks (+10 and +37 mm). Its stance and proportions reflect its new-found performance capabilities and give the ES the kind of eye-catching appeal that will make owners and admirers take a second look.
Yasuo Kajino, ES Chief Designer, describes the car’s new look as “provocative elegance”. “The ES has always been an elegant luxury saloon. For this generation, we have added daring design elements that challenge buyers’ traditional expectations,” he said.
The new GA-K platform allows for a lower bonnet line, which gave Kajino’s team the freedom to produce a distinctive silhouette with a strong downward slant, creating a dynamic yet fluid shape. Up front, the ES’s face is dramatically different according to model. The standard versions display elegant, vertical bars that radiate out from the centre of the signature Lexus spindle grille, while the F Sport models – featured for the first time in the ES range – adopt a black cross-hatch pattern that corresponds with cut-out sections at the car’s front corners.
In a break with past generations, the design features a fast roofline that emphasises the vehicle’s lower stance and slippery aerodynamics. The rear end is clean and sharply chiselled, with LED lamps that wrap around the quarter panels to generate a continuous styling line when viewed from any angle. F Sport models add a rear spoiler, badging and dark lower valance to add emphasis to the look. Three different 17 and 18-inch wheel designs are available for the standard ES models, with the F Sport versions running on 19-inch wheels1 that are similar in appearance to those found on the Lexus LC coupe.
A palette of 12 colours includes new beige and green shades. Ice Ecru is designer to mimic light reflected off fresh snow, while Sunlight Green is inspired by ocean water in sunlight. Two exclusive colours – Heat Blue and F White – are available for F Sport models, complementing their high-energy design.
The future of Lexus interiors
When designing the look and feel of the ES’s cabin, Kajino’s team’s starting point was the Lexus Future Interior concept, which blends a driver-centric cockpit with a spacious and comfortable area for the front passenger. The driver’s focus is kept on the road ahead by locating the centre display screen, instrument panel and head-up display in a tight cluster within the field of view. Front passengers, on the other hand, have a more open, spacious and relaxing environment.
It will be a connected space, too, with the availability of an optional navigation system with a range of connected services. This system also provides a 12.3-inch multimedia display and second generation Remote Touch touchpad control. Its voice recognition function includes a mobile assistant, enabling contactless control of the driver’s smartphone.
Rear passenger comfort has long been a hallmark of the ES and the new model upholds this quality, in spite of the sleeker exterior roof line. A lower hip point and carefully configured headlining preserve headroom while the longer wheelbase ensures generous legroom.
The interior colour options include a new combination that reflects the “provocative elegance” design theme. The Rich Cream option matches cream upholstery with a brown headlining to give the cabin a modern, yet warm look and feel. Other choices include Black, Chateau and Topaz Brown.
To create an entirely different appearance for the interior of the F Sport models, a new kind of metallic cabin trim was developed, unlike anything Lexus has used before. Inspired by traditional Japanese sword-making, the Hadori trim has fluctuating wave patterns that give it a three-dimensional look that varies depending on the viewing angle. The effect is subtle but indicative of the level of detail and craftsmanship invested in giving the F Sport a unique place in the line-up. The standard ES models make use of traditional materials such as bamboo and Shimamoku wood, which give the kind of hand-crafted appearance that luxury customers expect and appreciate. Details of UK trims, colours and availability will be announced later.
A new era of performance
The engineering team, led by Chief Engineer Yasuhiro Sakakibara, had a clear goal: transform the image of the ES. That meant turning a saloon known primarily for comfort and quietness into one that is equally capable of delivering class-leading handling and power that you can feel and hear.
According to Sakakibara, this ES has been built to deliver a fundamentally higher level of performance than any of its predecessors. He said: “We knew that this ES had to feel responsive and easy to drive, no matter what kind of road it was on. That can only be achieved with a solid foundation.”
The starting point was the new GA-K platform. It is an exceptionally rigid, front-wheel drive chassis that rivals the GA-L rear-wheel drive platform used for the LC coupe and LS saloon in terms of torsional stiffness. Various grades of high-tensile steel reduce weight compared to previous platforms, while enhancements such as an all-new multi-link rear suspension design, rack-mounted electric power steering and a V-brace behind the rear seat gave the engineers the flexibility to tune the ES with a new-found precision.
The chassis team sought to create a sense of comforting predictability coupled with a feeling of quick response to every movement. Yoshiaki Ito, the ES’ chief test driver, explained: “We want every kind of driver to feel a sense of complete control when they are behind the wheel of the ES. It’s a level of comfort that goes beyond merely delivering a smooth ride.”
For an even higher level of dynamic performance, F Sport models will be available with Adaptive Variable Suspension, similar to that found in the LC coupe. This adds adjustable dampers at each wheel with 650 levels of damping force to provide ultimate control on any road surface. Another element exclusive to F Sport is a Sport+ mode for the Drive Mode Select system, which engages the most responsive engine, transmission and suspension settings.
Fourth generation hybrid drive system
The ES 300h is equipped with a new, fourth-generation self-charging hybrid drive system that can deliver exceptional fuel efficiency, responsive performance and minimal emissions for a mid-size luxury saloon. It couples an ultra-efficient 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with a lighter, more compact and more power-dense electric motor. Total system power is 215bhp/160kW and combined cycle fuel economy is from 60.1mpg.
The 2.5-litre engine is all-new and incorporates fast-burn combustion technology that makes it one of the most thermally efficient engines to feature in a production vehicle. The result is more power without increasing emissions or fuel consumption. Features that help achieve such impressive results include straight intake ports, increased valve angles and laser-clad valve seats. A variable-capacity oil pump, multi-hole injectors, VVT-iE on the intake valves and a variable cooling system also contribute to the engine’s impressive heat and combustion management.
Overall driveability has been improved thanks to a more sophisticated hybrid system control computer that is better able to mimic the feel and power delivery of a standard petrol engine. Even the nickel metal hydride hybrid battery is more compact than before, allowing it to be located beneath the back seat, without intruding on boot space.
In Russia and other eastern markets, the new ES will be available with a range of petrol powertrains.
Unparalleled safety provisions
In the UK the new ES 300h will be equipped as standard with the latest Lexus Safety System +. This package of active safety and driver assistance technologies new capabilities and expands the driving scenarios in which it can provide added protection for driver and passengers and help prevent an accident from happening.
The new features include daytime cyclist detection which is part of the comprehensive Pre-Collision System (PCS). Already capable of detecting oncoming vehicles and pedestrians, the Pre-Collision System’s ability to detect cyclists addresses one of the most common accident scenarios on the road today. PCS has also been enhanced to detect pedestrians at night by increasing the radar’s sensitivity and dynamic range.
Another new safety advancement offered in the ES is a two-stage adaptive high beam system (AHS). This system not only turns the high beams on and off automatically for the driver, its 24 individual LED light array is capable of adapting the light pattern to provide enhanced illumination while reducing glare for oncoming drivers.
The world’s most immersive audio experience with Mark Levinson PurePlay
The 17-speaker Mark Levinson PurePlay system makes its debut in the new ES. Its world-first design architecture was created to immerse each individual in the most powerful, precise and pure audio experience yet.
PurePlay leverages multiple unique approaches to deliver outstanding in-vehicle performance: precision staging, world-class speaker design and placement, and unparalleled tuning and decompression technology. Speakers are placed at shoulder level around the cabin, enhancing acoustics and creating a tonal synergy. These perfectly timbre-matched locations deliver a consistent tonal colour between all mid-range speakers and tweeters, effectively creating two identical sound stages for the front and rear passengers. As a result, each individual is enveloped in sound, creating a listening experience that is consistent in every seating location.
The next chapter in the ES story
The seventh generation ES will usher in a new era for one of Lexus’s longest-established and most popular models. In common with the Lexus flagship LS, it is designed to engage a wider range of customers. It delivers everything traditional Lexus buyers expect, together with qualities that will draw in those who may not have considered the brand before. Stronger styling, more dynamic performance, high-quality interior finishes and the latest safety technology will help recast the image of the ES into one that is new and unexpected.
1 Specification details may vary according to market; confirmed details of the UK model range and specifications will be announced nearer the ES’s on-sale date.