First Look: Lexus is bringing an F Sport to the all-new 2019 ES

This post was originally published on this site

Every other headline published by an automotive news outlet these days seems to blare how automakers – especially premium ones – are pushing ever-closer to fully autonomous cars, taking luxury to the next level by, essentially, turning drivers into “occupants” and cocooning them in a soft, pillow-y transport pod.

Lexus has decided that, at least for now, the new 2019 ES is going to go in the opposite direction. Less passive transit, more dynamism, performance and adrenaline to go along with the leather and wood in this luxury sedan.

That’s not to say the ES isn’t also upping the comfort ante, too. Long-time Lexus buyers can look forward to a four-door that’s quieter and more spacious than any of its predecessors. But if you’re also not yet ready to give in to our new robot overlords and want to drive the thing, the ES might be worth a look.    

“This is a new evolution of ES. It’s like skipping a generation-and-a-half ahead,” says Chad Deschenes, a Lexus product specialist. “For [performance] enthusiasts like me, they’ll love it—I would drive it every day of the week.”

This new approach begins from the bottom-up, with a new chassis – the Global Architecture K (GA-K) platform – underpinning the 2019 ES, giving the car a wider track, longer wheelbase and lower, more aggressive stance than the outgoing car.

Lexus’ stylists took advantage of these new, sportier proportions and built a fluid, dynamic body around them, with a striking silhouette defined by a sleek roofline. The low hood similarly emphasizes what chief designer Yasuo Kajino calls the ES’ “provocative elegance,” as does the chiseled rear end with wraparound taillights.

The brand’s polarizing “spindle” grille isn’t kowtowing to critics and has instead got somehow even bolder, with vertical bars running from the edge of the hood to the chin spoiler.

“The vertical lines give it a whole new look, and actually help the body line build through the hood of the car into the fenders. Even the scoops on either side of the grille follow the same pattern,” says Dechenes. “There’s tonnes of cohesiveness on these vehicles.”

2019 lexus es reveal 41 First Look: Lexus is bringing an F Sport to the all new 2019 ES

The 2019 Lexus ES 350 at its Los Angeles reveal.

Inside, passengers are pushed to the edge of meditation swaddled in a cabin best enjoyed from the back seat—rear seat legroom is actually even better than the flagship Lexus LS’. The person behind the wheel, meanwhile, basically lives in another world, with the ES’ driver-focused interior giving them everything they need to pay attention to – a heads-up display, gauges and a center screen – right in front of them.

While designed to deliver class-leading handling and performance, Lexus’ engineers wanted, too, to make the ES easy-to-drive. To that end they fitted that aforementioned GA-K chassis with lighter parts, added bracing and electric power steering. The ES responds quickly and predictably to inputs, the company’s test driver says, giving the driver a feeling of complete control.

“The engineers wanted to make sure we retained the heritage of the car,” says Deschenes. “But they also wanted to change the driving dynamic completely and ignore the guidelines to instead target the next generation of ES buyers.”

Motivation for the ES 350 comes from a retuned 302-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 – that’s a 30-plus-horsepower gain over the old car – mated to an eight-speed Direct Shift automatic.

If that fails to excite, Lexus is for the first time offering an ES 350 F Sport trim, for drivers in need of an even more exciting performance luxury sedan.

The F Sport adds Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with adjustable dampers; a Sport+ mode with more aggressive engine, transmission and suspension settings; and, a little to our dismay, an Engine Sound Enhancement feature to pipe in via stereo an added layer of faux engine noise over the real exhaust note.

Inside, F Sport buyers are surrounded by new metallic Hadori trim pieces, inspired by the making of a traditional Japanese sword. A subtle fluctuating wave pattern on those surfaces gives a vaguely 3-D effect. Outside, a rear spoiler, darkened rear fascia, sporty 19-inch wheels and an L-shaped-clusters-pattern grille insert set F apart.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the ES 300h, with a new fourth-gen self-charging hybrid system mated to an all-new Atkinson-cycle 2.5-litre four-cylinder. Together the two units deliver about 215 horsepower, and Lexus testing shows fuel efficiency to be around 5.3 L/100 km combined.

The 2.5-litre four is a cool little engine – literally – with a host of technologies thrown at it to deliver optimal thermal efficiency without cutting power. A more sophisticated system control computer means the hybrid better mimics the feel of a gasoline engine; while a new nickel-metal-hydride battery slots nicely under the rear seat.

Even the non-hybrid ES models get some neat new technologies, since they’re fitted standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite. The LSS+ 2.0’s Pre-Collision System now gets daytime bicyclist detection, though the radar’s been enhanced for better cyclist or pedestrian detection at night, too.

2019 lexus es reveal 51 First Look: Lexus is bringing an F Sport to the all new 2019 ES

The 2019 Lexus ES 350 at its Los Angeles reveal.

Also, available for the first time in any Lexus is Apple CarPlay, a feature rivals have been building into their cars for a while now. The functionality can be accessed via the dashboard-mounted control screen or via voice commands. Amazon’s Alexa is coming to U.S. cars, too, but the timeline for that tech coming to Canada is uncertain.

“The new ES offers an overall package that competitors just don’t,” Deschenes summed up the car. “Some offer power, others focus on suspension feel, and others tend toward emphasizing steering. This car has redefined all of that.”

Lexus is hoping putting all of this into ES – striking a balance between comfortable luxury and aggressive performance and styling – will help it hold on to traditional Lexus buyers while conquesting new ones when the car goes on sale this September.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: