It's no secret that I love a good "old-fashioned" luxury sedan, even if the rest of the world is only interested in SUV's these days.

Recently, we tested the Lexus ES sedan, which certainly impressed, yet at the time, I said that I couldn't wait to get my hands on the Hybrid version. It's very much a case of same-same but different.

The Hybrid test car was in top SE spec as opposed to the "lower" EX spec of the previous model. This is a case of taking a highly specced car and then adding even further. The spoil factor just gets higher with items like active cruise control and safety, sunroof and more.

I find it interesting that the ES was originally intended as the entry sedan in the Lexus range. Front-wheel drive instead or the rear of the IS, yet a larger car overall. Personally, I don't believe that buyers in this category know or care about the difference.

The Hybrid is powered by the same 2.5L 4 cylinder petrol engine but with added hybrid technology. Power is rated at 160kW and 221+ E  Nm. This is matched to the superb variable automatic transmission instead of the 8 speed torque convertor in the non-hybrid.

Perhaps it's my driving style but I felt that the hybrid is not about performance, but rather all about smoothness and sheer luxury cruising. It can certainly deliver if you desire and the multi-mode transmission does have a sport mode. I just left it in normal mode for the test period.

The comparison between the Hybrid and non-hybrid models was always going to concentrate on fuel consumption above all else and the result was absolute proof of the value of a good hybrid system in the SA context.

Limited electric only range compliments the figures and after a week of varied driving the figure of 5.5L/100km can only be described as amazing. Taken into context against the 8.6L/ 100km of the non-hybrid version. The sheer smoothness and luxury of the package are a bonus.

If I have to find a complaint, it must be in the pricing. All cars have become absurdly expensive these days but at R948 800 as tested I think I would forego a few luxuries and rather opt for the "plainer" EX Hybrid at R774 400 instead.

A 7 year/ 105 000km maintenance plan is included. 


Alan Rosenmeyer: MotorMatters      www.