Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • One engine option – hybrid petrol
  • Performance is compeititive
  • Fuel consumption is excellent in the right hands

Unlike its rivals, the ES is hybrid-only – and is offered in just one engine derivative, a 218hp 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid badged ES 300h with claimed fuel economy between 52 and 59mpg and attractively low CO2 emissions to lure cost-conscious buyers and company car drivers alike.

It's surprisingly easy to match those claimed fuel consumption figures if you're mire in the typical slow stop-start traffic that is typical for anywhere south of Manchester. The hybrid system works seamlessly, and delivers brilliant refinement – and unlike earlier Toyota and Lexus hybrids, the petrol engine doesn't spend all of its time revving unsatisfactorily as soon as you show it a hill or need to overtake.

Performance is adequate, with a 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds and an electroncally-limited maximum speed of 112mph. It feels pretty leaden to drive in Eco mode, but put it in Normal or Sport, and the throttle sharpens up nicely, making this hybrid saloon feel nicely responsive. We'd probably just leave it in Sport all of the time.

Sadly, there’s unlikely to be a plug-in hybrid model, though. As Pascal Ruch, Lexus’s director of Europe explained to Parkers: ‘For the short-term, the full “self-charging” hybrid is the most pragmatic solution. With what we have today, Lexus has the strongest offering.’  If you’re holding out for a diesel-engined ES, then forget it – there won’t be one.

  • Decent handling with good body control
  • Lack of decent steering feel
  • Go elsewhere if you're looking for excitement

Lexus promises the ES is a better car to drive than previous versions – as well as the GS it’s replaced – with more responsive, quicker steering and more power and capability, while remaining comfortable and quiet like any other Lexus. Would you consider it a driver's car? No, not really, and that comes down to the slightly disappointing power delivery and lack of steering feedback.

The biggest difference between this and the outgoing GS is that it’s front-wheel drive, while F Sport models come with Adaptive Variable Suspension (like you’ll find on the LC), while entry-level ES and Takumi models have a more traditional set-up that focuses on comfort. In reality, it's not really an issue, as the ES handles tidily, and never feels anything other than responsive – it just feels a little remote.

The good news is that it largely delivers on this promise. The ES feels surprisingly agile and quick to respond with sharp steering and good body control. There's plenty of grip and poise in corners, and if that's your thing, you won't be disappointed. It’s not quite a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF, but it’s certainly up there. But it's best left as a relaxed cruiser because of the eco-focused hybrid drivetrain. Just don't expect excitement.