The new Lexus ES has been revealed in full at the Beijing Motor Show, and it’s coming for the Germans. The Japanese rival to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class is all-new, from the new ‘Global Architecture-K’ chassis to the fourth-generation full hybrid system, which has given Lexus latitude to challenge the dynamics of the class leaders.
Lexus has binned the GS badge in the UK and Europe, aligning its replacement under the ES name that the rest of the world has known for six previous generations. Built for the UK only as an ES 300h hybrid, some other EU markets will get ES 200, ES 250 and ES 350 petrol-only versions.
It’s 65mm longer than the old GS, 45mm wider and 5mm lower, so the overall impression is of a sportier stance. An extra 50mm into the wheelbase keeps handling tidy, also courtesy of track widths raised by 10mm and 37mm front and rear.
Lexus has tried to make the 2019 ES much more dynamic than it used to be, without sacrificing comfort or refinement. The stiffer chassis rivals the LC Coupe’s for torsional rigidity, while it carries its weight lower down and uses a brand new multi-link rear suspension design.
There will be an F Sport model running on 19-inch wheels based on the LC Coupe’s, where other models use comfier 17s and 18s. F Sport cars gain a Sport+ driving mode for the tightest body control and increases throttle response to its most un-Lexus-ish.
The new hybrid setup is said to produce a feel much more like a conventional petrol car despite running a CVT transmission. Its smaller batteries hold no less power but sit completely beneath the rear seat, meaning the hybrid shares its boot capacity with the petrol cars.
The UK-spec hybrid will pump out 215bhp and 60mpg, which is nice. We have to wait for confirmed performance figures. The sound system is a well thought-out Mark Levinson unit that features precise speaker locations to give the front and rear occupants the same audio experience. Brilliant, as long as you don’t have a four-year-old on board who keeps demanding the soundtrack to Frozen.