Seventh-gen executive saloon gets sharper looks, new platform and improved hybrid drivetrain.

Hey, the ES has gone sporty!

For the first time ever, Lexus has made its global bread-winning saloon sporty in appearance thanks to the inclusion of the F Sport treatment.

As seen in these first official pictures, the ES gets those sharp lines applied in many other models currently on sale. There will also be a classy variation bearing a less aggressive-looking front grille.

Making its world premiere at the Beijing motor show this week, the seventh-gen ES sits on a new front-wheel-drive platform called GA-K (known as TNGA in Toyota speak); the rear-drive GA-L currently underpins the LS luxury saloon and LC sports car.

With a wheelbase measuring some 50mm longer than in the outgoing ES, Lexus promises a spacious cabin (and quietness when driving). The fascia has been completely redesigned with more tidiness in mind and incorporates a new 12.3in infotainment screen.

Has it gone plug-in hybrid yet?

No it hasn’t. There are only two petrol engines available initially. The first one is 302hp 3.5-litre V6 in the ES350 coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Lexus says its 34hp more powerful than in the sixth-gen model.

The version is the ES300h featuring a new hybrid system without plug-in facility. Although the four-cylinder still displaces 2.5 litres, Lexus claims it’s all-new. And when coupled to lighter, more compact and higher power density electric motors, the combined output comes to 215hp.

Lexus adds that the nickel metal-hydride battery has been reengineered in size so that it can fit under the rear seat rather than being positioned vertically in the boot behind the backrests.

In a bid to boost its safety credentials, the ES comes with all of the brand’s latest systems as standard. A notable driver-assist tech is the detection of cyclists rather than just pedestrians and vehicles.

Will it replace the GS?

Lexus hasn’t mentioned anything about this on the record. But we learned that the ES will replace the rear-drive GS as both cars have always been overlapping each other in showrooms despite their distinctive drive formats.

That means the new ES has the tough task of doing battle with the rear-drive BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Two other executive saloons that still drive the front wheels in the more basic versions (all-wheel-drive is available in higher variants) are the Audi A6 and Volvo S90.

Expect the new ES to land on Thai shores by the end of this year with prices ranging in the 3-4 million baht bracket. The ES300h is likely to be the core-seller.

Rivals that have already gone plug-in hybrid in Thailand include the 530e, E350e and S90 T8.

News Reporter

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