Being quick isn’t something the Lexus ES 250 does particularly well. The ES 250 sails from zero to 100kph in 9.1 seconds, and it makes the competition seem like space rockets in comparison. If speed is something you cherish, look away. The Lexus isn’t the car that you tell your friends you’re five minutes away when you’re just putting on a t-shirt, hoping that you’ll make up time on the road for your lateness.
This isn’t to say that the engine is underpowered. The 204hp and 247Nm coming from the 2.5-litre naturally aspirated engine are enough to drag this 1,660kg vehicle up a steep incline without effort. The infinite adjustments of the intake valve by an electrically-driven actuator and exhaust valve by a hydraulic actuator do make the Lexus take-off smooth and quick, only to lose all sense on urgency by the time the third gear engages.
An eight-speed automatic transmission puts the power to exclusively to the front-wheels. Lexus’ eight-speeder features AI Shift Control that predicts the driver’s intention by keeping an eye on the speed and throttle position. The resulting linear acceleration might explain the lack of theatrics, but the job gets done nonetheless. Overtaking is just as serene, despite having the Direct Connected Downshift which skips a couple of gears down when it detects the throttle going full bore.
Perhaps, not at all bothered by setting records on the Nurburgring, Lexus’ engineers made the ES 250 comfortable in every way possible instead. High-tensile steel makes up the sedan’s frame and on it hangs Yamaha Performance Dampers at the front and rear of the ES 250 Luxury. These extremely short stroke dampers iron out the little creases of the road and quickly levels the car after driving through bumps.
The flat ride continues through the corners even as you pilot the ES with much spirit. MacPherson struts in front and double wishbones at the rear are tuned to improve the responsive handling. The steering is accurate and quick but missing much of the feedback that would have made the drive more involving.
Riding inside the ES 250 isn’t just comfortable, it is also quiet. Lexus has pretty much kept the exterior noises outside through the use of sound-absorbing and insulating materials. And it all adds to the calming ambience of the ES 250’s interior.
The seats are particularly lovely, cushioned enough that you don’t sink into it nor feel like you are on a bus stop bench. Raised sides help keep the torso snug and hips sufficiently supported that you don’t slide while cornering. The headrests are layered with a soft material that cradles your head, relieving tension from the neck caused by the boss constantly looking over your shoulder. The defining feature of the semi-aniline leather seats is the ventilation holes that blow cold wind to your back, a blessing on hot days.
The dashboard pushes the various control panels towards the driver, placing each dial and button within reach. Same can be said for the control knobs positioned at the side of the instrument panel’s cowl.
You’ll appreciate the wide HUD, which Lexus claim is the largest in class. Multiple information can exist on the same plane with ample spaces in between. In any case, a 12.3-inch wide Electro Multi Vision screen displays other information that the HUD and instrument panel doesn’t. As imperfect as it is, Lexus is still sticking with its Remote Touch Interface remain Lexus’ choice to engage the media system.
A slim dashboard houses the media and control systems, and like the rest of the interior, it is also finished with precise stitches. The interior is trimmed in black Shimamoku wood within soft-padded leather upholstery, highlighted tastefully with metallic embellishments.
The stylish interior is continued outside where it is shaped by the wind tunnel. The ES 250 looks fast, in spite its performance. Having a low bonnet that joins up with the low sloping roofline, which sweeps to the rear, gives the Luxes a coupe-like appearance. The spindle grille, redesigned for the ES and enclosed in a satin-plated frame, appears sharper than before. Slim headlights with the angular daytime running lights add to the frontend’s wedge. Behind, the same acute treatment is afforded to bring together an elegant looking automobile.
Its sharp suit is only part of this executive sedan’s appeal. The Lexus ES 250 focuses on refinement and comfort over outright speed. The interior appointments and the choice of materials used make the car a pleasure to drive in traffic, at the day’s end.
Specification: Lexus ES 250 Luxury
Engine 2,487cc, inline-4, VVT-iE (intake), VVT-i (exhaust) | Transmission 8-speed Direct Speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive | Power & Torque 204hp @ 6,600rpm / 247Nm @ 5,000 | Performance 0-100kph in 9.1s, max speed 210kph, 15.1km/l (6.6l/100km) | Price RM320,510.50 | Score 8/10