The all-new Lexus ES: a higher level of performance and sophistication

After six generations of success in the mid-size sedan category, the new, seventh generation Lexus ES is forging a new, more ambitious path. Long renowned for its comfort, refinement and luxury appointments, the new ES builds on its strengths with an all-new chassis that allows for a more dynamic exterior design and even better driving …

After six generations of success in the mid-size sedan category, the new, seventh generation Lexus ES is forging a new, more ambitious path. Long renowned for its comfort, refinement and luxury appointments, the new ES builds on its strengths with an all-new chassis that allows for a more dynamic exterior design and even better driving performance.

It is a further expression of Lexus’ design direction and commitment to crafting vehicles that provide more excitement, emotional connection and passion, helping bring the brand’s vision for its future to a wider audience. Traditional buyers will find the new ES more spacious, quieter and safer than ever before, while a new generation of customers will be introduced to a sedan with sharpened performance, class-leading safety technology and a level of craftsmanship rarely found in this market segment.

The seventh generation ES will be the first to be introduced to markets in Western Europe. It follows the new LS flagship sedan and LC coupe in carrying forward a new chapter in Lexus design that has a much stronger emotional quality. The eye-catching styling, made possible by the use of an all-new Global Architecture – K (GA-K) platform, will have particular appeal to customers in the region, together with a more engaging driving experience and even higher safety provisions. The range will include the ES 300h, on sale from December 2018, powered by a new self-charging hybrid system, together with the ES 200, ES 250 and ES 350 petrol engine models that will go on sale from September 2018.

Lexus achieved close to 75,000 sales in Europe in 2017, its highest total yet, marking a fourth consecutive year of growth. The new ES sedan will be a core model in its line-up, contributing to Lexus’ ambition to reach 100,000 annual new car sales in Europe by 2020.

New dimensions in ES design

The new ES is built on the all-new Global Architecture – K (GA-K) platform, giving Lexus the opportunity to explore the limits of mid-size luxury sedan design. The car is longer (+65 mm), lower (-5 mm) and wider (+45 mm) than its predecessor. The longer wheelbase (+50 mm) allows the wheels to be pushed closer to the car’s corners, with wider front and rear treads (+10 and +37 mm). Its stance and proportions reflect its new-found performance capabilities and give the ES the kind of eye-catching appeal that will make owners and admirers take a second look.

Yasuo Kajino, ES Chief Designer, describes the car’s new look as “provocative elegance”.

“The ES has always been an elegant luxury sedan. For this generation, we have added daring design elements that challenge buyers’ traditional expectations,” he said.

The new GA-K platform allowed for a lower hood line, which gave Kajino’s team the freedom to produce a distinctive silhouette with a strong downward slant, creating a dynamic yet fluid shape. Up front, the ES’ face is dramatically different according to model. The standard versions display elegant, vertical bars that radiate out from the centre of the signature Lexus spindle grille, while the F SPORT models – featured for the first time in the ES range – adopt a black cross-hatch pattern that corresponds with cut-out sections at the car’s front corners.

In a break with past generations, the design features a fast roofline that emphasises the vehicle’s lower stance and slippery aerodynamics. The rear end is clean and sharply chiselled, with LED lamps that wrap around the quarter panels to generate a continuous styling line when viewed from any angle. F SPORT models add a rear spoiler, badging and dark lower valance to add emphasis to the look. Three different 17 and 18-inch wheel designs are available for the standard ES models, with the F SPORT versions running on 19-inch wheels1 that are similar in appearance to those found on the Lexus LC coupe.

A palette of 12 colours includes new beige and green shades. Ice Ecru is designer to mimic light reflected off fresh snow, while Sunlight Green is inspired by ocean water in sunlight. The two exclusive colours – Heat Blue and F White – are available for F SPORT models, complementing its high-energy design.

The future of Lexus interiors

When designing the look and feel of the ES’ cabin, Kajino’s team’s starting point was the Lexus Future Interior concept, which blends a driver-centric cockpit with a spacious and comfortable area for the front passenger. The driver’s focus is kept on the road ahead by locating the centre display screen, instrument panel and head-up display in a tight cluster within the field of view. Front passengers, on the other hand, have a more open, spacious and relaxing environment.

It will be a connected space, too, with the availability of an optional navigation system including a range of connected services. The navigation also provides a 12.3-inch multimedia display and second generation Remote Touch touchpad control; its voice recognition also extends to a mobile assistant allowing a contactless driver’s smartphone control.

Rear passenger comfort has long been a hallmark of the ES and the new model upholds this quality, in spite of the sleeker exterior roof line. A lower hip point and carefully configured headlining preserve headroom while the longer wheelbase ensures generous legroom.

The interior colour options include a new combination that reflects the “provocative elegance” design theme. The Rich Cream option matches cream upholstery with a brown headlining to give the cabin a modern, yet warm look and feel. Other choices include Black, Chateau and Topaz Brown.

To create an entirely different appearance for the interior of the new F SPORT models, a new kind of metallic cabin trim was developed, unlike anything Lexus has used before. Inspired by traditional Japanese sword-making, the Hadori trim has fluctuating wave patterns that give it a three-dimensional look that varies depending on the viewing angle. The effect is subtle, but indicative of the level of detail and craftsmanship invested in giving the F SPORT a unique place in the line-up. The standard ES models will continue to make use of traditional materials such as bamboo and Shimamoku wood, which give the ES the kind of hand-crafted appearance that luxury customers expect and appreciate.

A new era of performance

The engineering team, led by Chief Engineer Yasuhiro Sakakibara, had a clear goal: transform the image of the ES. That meant turning a sedan known primarily for comfort and quietness into one that is equally capable of delivering class-leading handling and power that you can feel and hear.

According to Sakakibara, this ES has been built to deliver a fundamentally higher level of performance than any of its predecessors. He said: “We knew that this ES had to feel responsive and easy to drive, no matter what kind of road it was on. That can only be achieved with a solid foundation.”

The starting point was the new GA-K platform. It is an exceptionally rigid, front-wheel drive chassis that rivals the GA-L rear-wheel drive platform used for the LC coupe and LS sedan in terms of torsional stiffness. Various grades of high-tensile steel reduce weight compared to previous platforms, while enhancements such as an all-new multi-link rear suspension design, rack-mounted electric power steering and a V-brace behind the rear seat gave the engineers the flexibility to tune the ES with a new-found precision.

The chassis team sought to create a sense of comforting predictability coupled with a feeling of quick response to every movement. Yoshiaki Ito, the ES’ chief test driver, explained: “We want every kind of driver to feel a sense of complete control when they are behind the wheel of the ES. It’s a level of comfort that goes beyond merely delivering a smooth ride.”

For an even higher level of dynamic performance, F SPORT models will be available with Adaptive Variable Suspension, similar to that found in the LC coupe. This adds adjustable dampers at each wheel with 650 levels of damping force to provide ultimate control on any road surface. Another element exclusive to F SPORT is a Sport+ mode for the Drive Mode Select system, which engages the most responsive engine, transmission and suspension settings. The ES 350 F SPORT also features an engine sound enhancement system that adds a further layer to the sound of the engine, amplifying the natural rhythms of spirited driving.

Fourth generation hybrid drive system

The ES 300h – to be launched in Western and Central Europe – is equipped with a new, fourth generation self-charging hybrid drive system that can deliver exceptional fuel efficiency, responsive performance and minimal emissions for a mid-size luxury sedan. It couples an ultra-efficient 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with a lighter, more compact and more power-dense electric motor. Total system power is 218 PS/160 kW and combined cycle fuel economy is from 4.7 l/100km.

The 2.5-litre engine is all-new and incorporates fast-burn combustion technology that makes it one of the most thermally efficiency engines to feature in a production vehicle. The result is more power without increasing emissions or fuel consumption. Features that help achieve such impressive results include straight intake ports, increased valve angles and laser-clad valve seats. A variable-capacity oil pump, multi-hole injectors, VVT-iE on the intake valves and a variable cooling system also contribute to the engine’s impressive heat and combustion management.

Overall driveability has been improved thanks to a more sophisticated hybrid system control computer that is better able to mimic the feel and power delivery of a standard petrol engine. Even the nickel metal hydride hybrid battery is more compact than before, allowing it to be located beneath the back seat, without intruding on boot space.

Petrol powertrains and new eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission

In Russia and other Eastern markets, ES will be available with a range of petrol powertrains.

The ES 350 is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that is designed to deliver commanding acceleration and a stirring note. This impressively smooth engine benefits from an update to the D4-S fuel injection system and now develops 250 PS/183 kW of torque, marking significant increases on the performance of the previous generation V6 unit.

As well as the boost in power and torque, the ES 350 also gains a new eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission. This uses an ultra-thin torque converter and a multi-plate lock-up clutch to transfer power to the front wheels more efficiently. It is tuned to deliver crisp, precisely timed shifts with quick pedal responses. With a wider spread of rations, it can us high-torque gears at the low end for quick starts, and tall gearing at the high end of optimum efficiency.

The ES 250 will be available with an all-new, high-efficiency 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a new eight-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission. Constructed with lightweight aluminium, it has a long-stroke design, laser-clad intake valve seats and advanced intelligent variable valve timing (VVT-i) to achieve high-speed combustion. It has a high overall thermal efficiency of 38 per cent.

Unparalleled safety provisions

The seventh generation ES is available with the latest Lexus Safety System + (standard on all models in Western Europe, available as an option in Eastern Europe markets). This package of active safety technologies provides new capabilities and expands the driving scenarios in which it can provide added protection for driver and passengers and help prevent an accident from happening.

The new features include daytime cyclist detection which is part of the comprehensive Pre-Collision System (PCS). Already capable of detecting oncoming vehicles and pedestrians, the Pre-Collision System’s ability to detect cyclists addresses one of the most common accident scenarios on the road today. PCS has also been enhanced to detect pedestrians at night by increasing the radar’s sensitivity and dynamic range.

Another new safety advancement offered in the ES is a two-stage adaptive high beam system (AHS). This system not only turns the high beams on and off automatically for the driver, its 24 individual LED light array is capable of adapting the light pattern to provide enhanced illumination while reducing glare for oncoming drivers.

The world’s most immersive audio experience with Mark Levinson PurePlay

The 17-speaker Mark Levinson PurePlay system makes its debut on the 2019 Lexus ES. Its world’s first design architecture was created to immerse each individual in the most powerful, precise and pure audio experience yet.

PurePlay leverages multiple unique approaches to deliver outstanding in-vehicle performance: precision staging, world-class speaker design and placement, and unparalleled tuning and decompression technology. Speakers are placed at shoulder level around the cabin, enhancing acoustics and creating a tonal synergy. These perfectly timbre-matched locations deliver a consistent tonal colour between all midrange speakers and all tweeters, effectively creating two identical sound stages for the front and rear passengers. As a result, each individual is enveloped in sound, creating a listening experience that is consistent in every seating location.

The next chapter in the ES story

The seventh generation Lexus ES will usher in a new era for one of the brand’s longest-established and most popular models. In common with the Lexus flagship LS, the new ES sedan aims to engage a wider range of customers. It delivers everything traditional Lexus buyers expect, together with qualities that will draw in those who have not considered the brand before. Stronger styling, more dynamic performance, high-quality interior finishes and the latest safety technology will help recast the image of the ES into one that is new and unexpected.

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