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Beijing show: Lexus ES goes hybrid only

Growth strategy: The ES is longer and lower than the outgoing model, and despite the sleek roofline, it gains rear legroom.

Lexus to offer new-gen ES solely in petrol-electric hybrid guise in Australia

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Lexus logo25 Apr 2018

THE all-new Lexus ES mid-size sedan will be a hybrid-only proposition when it hits Australian showrooms in the fourth quarter of this year.

Making its motor show debut today in Beijing, the new ES will no longer be offered with a petrol V6 option, with Lexus Australia opting for the latest Lexus Hybrid Drive petrol-electric powertrain instead.

Lexus Australia chief executive Scott Thompson said the hybrid-only strategy was part of Lexus’ plan to increase its electrified offerings Down Under.

“In Australia, hybrid accounts for 30 per cent of Lexus sales, so offering the latest-generation ES solely with an advanced self-charging hybrid system represents another significant milestone towards greater electrification of our line-up,” he said.

The ES joins the CT200h small hatchback as the only Lexus models sold exclusively with a hybrid powertrain.

It will be sold as the ES300h and will be available in Luxury and Sports Luxury grades, but no F Sport.

As expected, the new ES is built on the mid-size, front-drive version of the Toyota New Global Architecture (GA-K) shared with the new Camry.

It is 65mm longer, 5mm lower, 45mm wider, has a 50mm longer wheelbase and wider front (10mm) and rear tracks (37mm).

The new fourth-generation hybrid system pairs a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a “lighter, more compact, more power-dense” electric motor and self-charging hybrid system for a combined output of 153kW.

Lexus has not provided the torque figure or an official combined cycle fuel economy figure, but it said it would consume less than 6.0 litres per 100km.

The current ES300h that uses the older hybrid system drinks 5.5L/100km.

The mechanically related new-generation Toyota Camry pumps out 160kW and uses between 4.2 and 4.5L/100km of fuel, depending on the variant.

Lexus says the new ES has a “more sophisticated” hybrid system control computer that mimics the feel and power delivery of a regular petrol engine, which helps the car eliminate the “rubber-band” feeling of previous hybrid systems.

A new smaller nickel-hydrogen battery is positioned under the rear seat to ensure it does not impact boot space.

Lexus says it wanted to change the image of the ES from a comfortable, quiet, efficient car to something a little more exciting.

The engineering team, led by Yasuhiro Sakakibara, developed the new-gen ES to deliver a “fundamentally higher level of performance than any of its predecessors”.

To achieve this, the new ES uses a rigid front-wheel-drive chassis, with different grades of high-tensile steel helping to reduce weight compared to the outgoing model.

It uses a multi-link suspension set-up, a rack-mounted electric power steering system and a V-brace mounted behind the rear seat, while the low and wide proportions ensure a lower centre of gravity and improved aerodynamics, according to Lexus.

While Lexus revealed one image of the ES last week, the company has now fully uncovered the seventh-gen version.

It features a low bonnet, new vertical bar grille, and a sloping roofline, LED tail-lights and 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels.

The interior was designed according to the Lexus Future Interior concept that focuses on a spacious and comfortable area for the driver and a driver-centric cockpit.

The instrument panel, centre display screen and head-up display are in a tight cluster in the driver’s field of view, while adjustments have been made to the angle and position of the steering wheel as well as the angle and location of the brake pedal for an improved driving position.

Lexus says headroom has been maintained despite the sleeker roofline, while the longer wheelbase means more legroom.

In terms of safety, the ES will be offered as standard with Lexus Safety System + 2.0 that now includes features such as cyclist detection, which is part of the pre-collision system that already detects oncoming vehicles and pedestrians.

More details will be revealed closer to the ES launch in the fourth quarter of the year.

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