Seventh-generation ES is first to enter Europe, with design and handling tailored for that market

Lexus will replace its low-selling GS with the new ES, which has made its world debut in Beijing before going on sale in Britain from January 2019.

While it’s the first to enter Europe, this ES is actually the seventh-generation model, with its forebears having focused on the US market. The new car is tasked with drastically increasing sales in Europe, so it has been designed and engineered to appeal to drivers in this region.

Part of the motivation for this decision will no doubt be the success of European rivals to the ES, such as the BMW 5 Series, which is renowned for its good handling and strong performance. Lexus has therefore engineered the new ES to be significantly more driver-focused than its predecessors.

It is built on Lexus’s Global Architecture-K platform, which is a front-wheel drive layout said to offer significant improvements to structural rigidity, as well as more freedom to create a sleeker design. High-tensile steel is used in higher volume than before, helping to save weight, although the car has grown longer and wider compared with its predecessor, while sitting lower.

Our Verdict

Lexus GS300h

The Lexus GS has been injected with a few ounces of sportiness, making it a left-field contender in the mid-size exec category

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The new ES features multi-link rear suspension and has a V-brace behind the backseats to enhance handling and precision. ES Sport models add adaptive damping to this technical layout. It can be manually adjusted through a Drive Mode Select system.

Drive comes from a hybrid powertrain that's based on an all-new 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The system is rated to 215bhp and comes with claims of 60.1mpg combined. Lexus said the powertrain is also more natural in its power delivery, thanks to new control software that provides torque in a seamless way.

Pure petrol versions will also be available in ES 200 and ES 250 forms, but these are expected to make up a tiny proportion of sales in Britain, where Lexus customers tend to opt for its electrified models.

Lexus will equip the new ES with its latest safety technology. Driver assist features include a pre-collision detection system that can spot cyclists and pedestrians, as well as a two-stage high-beam system with 24 LEDs that can automatically switch beams off to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.

Much of the car’s exterior design takes inspiration from Lexus' LS flagship, although the ES Sport model also has the LC's coupé-like features, such as 19in wheels that share a similar design. The ES’s interior has a new dashboard with a clear driver-centric focus. It comes with a 12.3in infotainment system with a transmission tunnel-located touchpad and smartphone-integrated voice-recognition technology.

The ES replaces the GS, which goes off sale this month. Only 428 GS models were sold in Britain last year, meaning it achieved just 10% of the success of Lexus’s best-selling model here, the NX SUV.

Lexus sold almost 75,000 units in Europe in 2017. The Toyota-owned luxury brand targets 100,000 sales per year by 2020.

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Join the debate


25 April 2018

There is no way this replaces the GS. The GS might die, but this is just a Camry with a posher badge. Nothing wrong with a Camry if you want a soft FWD car, but this will not compete with the RWD alternatives. It seems doomed to me, being offered only with a 4 pot attached to a CVT. 

It will be reliable, and probably be a lovely place to spend time, but if it gives the driver one degree of pleasure i will be amazed. Its a shame Lexus cant be honest about that.

25 April 2018

and to anyone who appreciates ride quality, build quality, dealer quality, reliability, doesn’t want a diesel, isn’t a thrusting aggressive moron it will give a lot of pleasure.

26 April 2018

We have owned/own 3 Lexuses. My daily commute is an 80-mile motorway round trip - I have great pleasure in the amazing built quality, supremely comfortable seats and cruising ability of my Lexus, alongside the long list of standard features and safety technology. We also take immense pleasure in the amazing relaibility of our Lexuses, and the wonderful customer service we get from our Lexus dealer each time we visit, whether to simply browse, purchase or service our vehicles. For the odd weekend when the sun is shining, we take the Morgan out of the garage for a different kind of pleasure.  


2 May 2018

Having owned an IS300h F Sport from new for three years I feel well capable of offering my thoughts over 80k miles. Before people go off sprouting about driving dynamics, inch perfect apex clipping etc. etc. lets not forget where we live. Namely, the UK, poor roads, ever incresaing traffic snarl ups, over exhuberant spped cameras .... why would anyone want a daily driver with such focus on dynamics over a car that offers so much more if people would look past the fact the badge does not bleet Audi/Mercedes or BMW?

Other than perfect reliailty, not even a blown bulb, incredible dealer back up, supreme comfort, good fuel economy, 50,000 on tyres, never changed brake pads yet, quiet cruising. These cars are a lovely place to spend time and while away miles or to sit in traffic.

The magazines also need to realise Lexus do things differently and look at them not like the run of the mill exec wagons and then lets not forget the German trio plus VW have been testing their diesel engines on monkeys ..... 

The ES is the evolution of the brand, I was called by a sales guy yesterday from Lexus who told me like for like trim levels agaisnt the GS the ES will be on average £5000 cheaper, cleaner and more fuel efficient. While it will be at least as big as the GS if not slightly bigger.

Win win for me as I don't even bother with the German fodder theses days following piss poor dealer back up and having come out of a Jaguar in my previous car I would never return to the brand, dare I say Renault (in my experience) had better reliability and that includes the tailgate on a Laguna just falling off while on the M56 many years ago.

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Our Verdict

Lexus GS300h

The Lexus GS has been injected with a few ounces of sportiness, making it a left-field contender in the mid-size exec category

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week