This is the new Lexus ES 300h EX. The range that has replaced the GS in the company’s sedan offerings isn’t new but the EX badge is.

It’s a new addition that expands the range to three options; an entry-level 250 EX powered by a naturally-aspirated petrol 2.5l four-potter, a 300h SE using a hybrid version of the same motor and now the EX, essentially the 300h SE with less specification.

The new model retains many of the associated amenities like the 20.3cm touch command screen but instead gets a leather-clad steering wheel minus the heating element and wood covering, thinner 17-inch alloy rims instead of 18s, electrically retractable mirrors but not the automated kind that dip and activate the rear camera when you engage reverse, a 10-speaker Lexus Premium sound system in place of a 17-speaker Mark Levinson orchestr, and normal cruise control instead of the adaptive version found in the range topper.  

This model debuts the range-wide fitment of a revised infotainment system which now includes updated Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and free Wi-Fi connectivity.

Despite the marginal cut in creature comforts like rear electric seats and safety items like Pre-Crash and Lane Trace Assist, the EX still boasts 10 airbags. I found it still cossets and pampers passengers with an air of first class travel.

Being 4,975mm long yields a voluminous 2,870mm of wheelbase that gifts it peerless rear legroom in its price bracket. It makes for an affordable chauffeured ride but it’d be rude not to try it out from the driver’s pew.

FROM A DRIVER’S PERSPECTIVE THE CAR REMAINS CUSHY AND QUIET WHILE SOLIDLY PLANTED AT HIGHWAY SPEEDS

There’s clearly no shortchanging on an opulent drive quality because the lower spec EX still wafts like the best of them thanks to intelligent dampers said to be unique in the industry. Feedback from the steering, throttle and transmission is the relaxed rather than hurried and engineered to work with the floating qualities of the suspension.

From a keen driver’s perspective the car remains cushy and quiet while solidly planted at highway speeds. The hybrid drive system sends 160kW to the front wheels via a hushed CVT with none of the usual monotony of this type of transmission. It’s claimed to accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 8.9 seconds and reach a top velocity of 180km/h with the combined fuel economy cycle rated at 4.6l/100km.

Also, though the ES looks immense, it actually doesn’t drive as big. The turning circle is remarkably compact to make for effortless swinging around obstacles or in parking situations.

It competes neatly in price, power and average fuel consumption averages with 2.0l four-potters from Audi’s A5 Sportback range.

According to a Lexus product specialist, the entry-level ES 250 EX is the best seller of the range and it’s hoped this newer, more affordable ES 300h EX will help expand the reach of the company’s economy and environmental-minded hybrid system to more customers. 

The Lexus ES 300h EX retails for R774, 300 and comes standard with a seven-year/105,000km warranty and full maintenance plan. Vehicle service intervals are at every 15,000km.