By Bill McCarthy
FEW may have heard of this stunning looking Lexus, but it has been around for 30 years – but not in the UK.
In fact it is the brand’s most popular saloon, having sold 3.5 million worldwide.
You can see why. It is a luxury motor taking on the likes of the BMW 5 series, Mercedes E-Class, Jaguar XF and Volvo S90.
A stiff challenge then, but it has the advantage of being something new and offering tested hybrid technology. Based on the firm’s Global Architecture-K platform, it has what is described as ‘Provocative Elegance’
It looks a real great with chiselled and sculpted angular lines, while F-Sport bespoke features include a close-mesh pattern in the signature spindle grille made up of interlocking ‘L’ shapes, set within a jet black frame, discreet, integrated bootlid spoiler, lower rear bumper valance and F Sport badging.
Despite the 2.5-litre engine and battery producing 215bhp, acceleration is not going to throw you back in your seat. The car hits 62mph in nearly nine seconds and on to a top speed is 112mph where permitted.
But this model adds Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) which provides 650 levels of automatic, adjustment to the damping force at each wheel. AVS adds Sport S and Sport S+ settings for the Drive Mode Select system which sharpens up throttle, transmission and steering parameters along with the adaptive dampers.
If performance isn’t exactly electric, economy certainly is.
Official consumption figures are around 52mpg (WLTP figures) and CO2 emissions from 106g/km. This puts it in the highly competitive 25 per cent benefit in kind figure for business user.
The front wheels are driven by the electronic continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) which is a a world away from early CVT efforts. As a full hybrid, it has the benefit of a fully electric EV driving mode, perfect in slow moving traffic and above a certain speed kicks in where driving conditions warrant it.
The interior, is a luxurious place to be with F Sport styling including sports front seats embossed with the F Sport emblem and a striking new aluminium trim.
Also exclusive to the F Sport, the leather upholstery can be specified in a bold Flare Red colour, while the rest of the cab is finished with leather trim and high quality soft touch finish to the luxury to dash and doors.
The central console features a track/pad mouse which control the major functions through the central eight-inch display screen. It can be a bit fiddly and is very sensitive, especially on the move, but you can use voice commands.
The touchscreen controls sat nav, climate control, connectivity and sound system and there is also a multi-display system incorporated into the binnacle.
At under £40,000 the list of kit represents good value, with a comprehensive list including DAB radio, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera, power-adjustable, heated front seats, power-adjustable steering column, sunroof, rear privacy glass and dual-zone climate control.
It also features LED headlights, cruise control, parking sensors, with camera, smart entry and push-button start.
The list continues with the comprehensive safety kit to gain a Euro NCAP five star rating which includes 10 air bags, traction and stability control and on this model blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and new daytime cyclist and night-time pedestrian detection.
This is a big car as evidenced trying to park in out 1960s designed car parks. But it is a comfortable place to be with a long, if slightly shallow boot.
Space is compromised by the battery, but is adequate for the style of car at 454 litres.
Ride and handling are good, but it really scores when cruising on the motorway or uncluttered long country roads. It is hugely refined, with the advanced suspension soaking up bumps and potholes, occupants are cosseted in comfort, with the hybrid combo just a whisper in the back ground.
The Lexus is up against top premium opposition, but it is a luxurious alternative which is supremely refined and cheap to run.
Oh, and it does look pretty sensational.
Lexus ES 300h F-Sport
Mechanical: 215bhp, 2,487cc, 4cyl petrol engine/battery hybrid driving front wheels wheels via automatic gearbox
Max speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Combined mpg: 52.9
Insurance group: 34
CO2 emissions: 106g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles