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In Pics | Looking into the 2021 Lexus ES300h

Incremental don’t add or subtract from the fact that the Lexus ES300h is the most practical luxury sedan in the market

January 04, 2022 / 01:28 PM IST
There’s a comforting level of familiarity that comes with the Lexus ES300h, or any Lexus for that matter. It involves an unmatched level of quietude, refinement and poise along with the promise that all these attributes only get stronger as each of the brand’s products evolve. Thankfully, that continues to be the case with the facelifted Lexus ES300h. As the brand’s locally-assembled flagship, the ES300h has been the most successful model sold in the country. Which isn’t saying much, because at present, with the EV policies completely sidelining hybrids, Lexus once again finds itself between a rock and a hard place. (Image: Lexus India)
There’s a comforting level of familiarity that comes with the Lexus ES300h, or any Lexus for that matter. It involves an unmatched level of quietude, refinement and poise along with the promise that all these attributes only get stronger as each of the brand’s products evolve. Thankfully, that continues to be the case with the upgraded Lexus ES300h. As the brand’s locally assembled flagship, the ES300h has been the most successful model sold in the country. Which isn’t saying much, because at present, with the EV policies completely sidelining hybrids, Lexus once again finds itself between a rock and a hard place. (Image: Lexus India)
Can the ES300h help ameliorate the circumstances for the brand? On paper, it certainly should. The ES300h has all the ingredients for the ideal luxury sedan for Indian roads. It’s whisper quiet on the inside, fantastically insulated, softly sprung and considerably easier to maintain than its German counterparts. That hasn’t changed. But the really small details have. The brand’s trademark spindle grille is now composed of inverted L-shaped pieces and the 18-inch alloys now sport a different design. The overall profile of the car does appear more squared-off, particularly around the shoulder-line, but this could just be an optical illusion – this continues to be a sedan that’s more stately than sensational. Other design flourishes like digital door mirrors continue to be absent in the Indian model. (Image: Lexus India)
Can the ES300h help ameliorate the circumstances for the brand? On paper, it certainly should. The ES300h has all the ingredients for the ideal luxury sedan for Indian roads. It’s whisper quiet on the inside, fantastically insulated, softly sprung and considerably easier to maintain than its German counterparts. That hasn’t changed. But the really small details have. The brand’s trademark spindle grille is now composed of inverted L-shaped pieces and the 18-inch alloys now sport a different design. The overall profile of the car does appear more squared-off, particularly around the shoulder-line, but this could just be an optical illusion – this continues to be a sedan that’s more stately than sensational. Other design flourishes like digital door mirrors continue to be absent in the Indian model. (Image: Lexus India)
It’s on the inside where the changes begin to get more noticeable. Lexus interiors, although fabulously appointed, were starting to get a bit long in the tooth and so the brand has placed a 12.3-inch touchscreen centre console, angled towards the driver, with faux brushed-aluminium swatches underneath it, where a few handy buttons continue to remain. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are finally found in a Lexus cabin, as are open-pore walnut trims running along the breadth of the dashboard and door panels. It lends a particularly rich, old-world feel to the steering wheel. At the back you find more such opulence with three-zone climate control, reclining seats and superbly cushioned seats with a central armrest that has button-operated multimedia and seat control functions. (Image: Lexus India)
It’s on the inside where the changes begin to get more noticeable. Lexus interiors, although fabulously appointed, were starting to get a bit long in the tooth and so the brand has placed a 12.3-inch touchscreen centre console, angled towards the driver, with faux brushed-aluminium swatches underneath it, where a few handy buttons continue to remain. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are finally found in a Lexus cabin, as are open-pore walnut trims running along the breadth of the dashboard and door panels. It lends a particularly rich, old-world feel to the steering wheel. At the back you find more such opulence with three-zone climate control, reclining seats and superbly cushioned seats with a central armrest that has button-operated multimedia and seat control functions. (Image: Lexus India)
Powertrain | The powertrain remains largely unchanged, with a 2.4-litre, Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol-hybrid engine which makes a combined 215 bhp and is mated to an e-CVT transmission that sends power to the front-wheels. The LX300h was never a tarmac scorcher to begin with, nor have there been any incremental power gains to change that. It’s singularly focussed on providing comfort and economy, and in that capacity it delivers as steadfastly as ever. The 1.6 kWh, nickel-metal-hydride electric battery takes care of all the mundane aspects of driving, including start-stop and crawling functions, with regenerative braking recuperating power fairly effectively. As always, the “electric-only” function doesn’t last very long, and the battery size remains unchanged. (Image: Lexus India)
Powertrain | The powertrain remains largely unchanged, with a 2.4-litre, Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol-hybrid engine which makes a combined 215 bhp and is mated to an e-CVT transmission that sends power to the front-wheels. The LX300h was never a tarmac scorcher to begin with, nor have there been any incremental power gains to change that. It is singularly focussed on providing comfort and economy, and in that capacity it delivers as steadfastly as ever. The 1.6 kWh, nickel-metal-hydride electric battery takes care of all the mundane aspects of driving, including start-stop and crawling functions, with regenerative braking recuperating power fairly effectively. As always, the 'electric-only' function doesn’t last very long, and the battery size remains unchanged. (Image: Lexus India)
Lexus has claimed that it has specially calibrated the suspension of the locally assembled ES in accordance with the country’s unique topography. Suspension suppleness was really not an issue previously, but now it feels sublimely well-sprung. The powertrain feels the same however – not exceptionally quick but it moves forward with a certain stoic composure which is almost impossible to upset. Almost. Bury the throttle and the e-CVT does take a moment or two to catch on – the only time it needs to catch its breath. In every other way the ES wafts over surfaces and moves towards triple digits steadily and stealthily. (Image: Lexus India)
Lexus has claimed that it has specially calibrated the suspension of the locally assembled ES in accordance with the country’s unique topography. Suspension suppleness was really not an issue previously, but now it feels sublimely well-sprung. The powertrain feels the same however – not exceptionally quick but it moves forward with a certain stoic composure which is almost impossible to upset. Almost. Bury the throttle and the e-CVT does take a moment or two to catch on – the only time it needs to catch its breath. In every other way the ES wafts over surfaces and moves towards triple digits steadily and stealthily. (Image: Lexus India)
Despite allegedly greater torsional rigidity, this is still a purely comfort-oriented sedan. It’s a job it does well, and despite missing out on a few choice bells and whistles like a lithium-ion battery or digital wing mirrors, it still solves the mobility need of the hour for Indian car buyers. It’s quick, refined, softly-stung and very good looking. And then there’s the fact that as a hybrid, it’s the most fuel efficient luxury sedan in the market. (Image: Lexus India)
Despite allegedly greater torsional rigidity, this is still a purely comfort-oriented sedan. It’s a job it does well, and despite missing out on a few choice bells and whistles like a lithium-ion battery or digital wing mirrors, it still solves the mobility need of the hour for Indian car buyers. It’s quick, refined, softly-stung and very good looking. And then there’s the fact that as a hybrid, it’s the most fuel efficient luxury sedan in the market. (Image: Lexus India)
Verdict | It’s truly baffling that hybrid cars have not been incentivised the way EVs have. Hybrids, plug-in or self-driven, particularly as plush as the ES300h, would go a long way in easing the transition to electric mobility. The Lexus ES300h is nearly silent at all times, except when you floor it. Despite having a tiny electric battery, it manages to highlight just how fuss-free electric mobility can be, without making you compromise on everyday practicality. And being a Lexus, it still boasts of low running costs, much like an EV. In fact, the CVT gearbox is the only little niggle keeping it from being a nigh-perfect city car. But it does add to its frugality and ease of maintenance. (Image: Lexus India)
Verdict | It’s truly baffling that hybrid cars have not been incentivised the way EVs have. Hybrids, plug-in or self-driven, particularly as plush as the ES300h, would go a long way in easing the transition to electric mobility. The Lexus ES300h is nearly silent at all times, except when you floor it. Despite having a tiny electric battery, it manages to highlight just how fuss-free electric mobility can be, without making you compromise on everyday practicality. And being a Lexus, it still boasts of low running costs, much like an EV. In fact, the CVT gearbox is the only little niggle keeping it from being a nigh-perfect city car. But it does add to its frugality and ease of maintenance. (Image: Lexus India)
With a starting price of Rs 56.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) the ES300h does manage to undercut the price of its competition by a considerable margin. Add to that spruced-up interiors, a quiet hybrid powertrain, innate reliability and refinement and you have a very compelling choice. Even without any subsidies, this hybrid is the one to go for. (Image: Lexus India)
With a starting price of Rs 56.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) the ES300h does manage to undercut the price of its competition by a considerable margin. Add to that spruced-up interiors, a quiet hybrid powertrain, innate reliability and refinement and you have a very compelling choice. Even without any subsidies, this hybrid is the one to go for. (Image: Lexus India)
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first published: Jan 4, 2022 01:28 pm
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