Lexus ES 300h F Sport 2022 UK review review

What is it?

It’s Lexus’s mid-size saloon to take on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series, only this time with a lightly fettled mid-life refresh.

There are design tweaks to the front and rear (to call them mild would be overdoing it) but the ES was a handsome, sharp-looking thing to begin with so there wasn’t much need to mess around with it. This, BMW, is how you do an aggressive grille.

Three-eye LED headlights have been added, to give a wider light throw, and inside there’s a new 12.3in touchscreen that also mercifully retains some physical buttons and yet equally persists with Lexus’s infernal trackpad. We like you being different, Lexus, but there are limits.

There’s also an updated driver assist package, stretching to the usual lane keeping assistance et al and with allegedly smoother steering corrections, plus an interior focus on ‘closer panel spacing’. Given that Lexus fit and finish was fag-paper tight anyway, that’s an impressive statement.

Chassis alterations run to efforts to improve the dynamics and comfort, with more rigid rear suspension braces and a new actuator on the adaptive variable suspension, both designed to offer a more linear feel to the steering and suspension. Although, as you’ll see shortly, it hasn’t worked.

What’s it like?

I really love the way Lexus generally goes about things, forging its own path and being all the better for it sometimes, but sadly the ES plows away on its own furrow but still ends up falling short of the 5 Series.

The chief bugbear is the ride quality. Over broken surfaces, there’s a disconnect between the seat and the suspension, so one part of the car is reacting in one way and another is moving at a different rate. It means it all feels a bit fussy and flustered, as if the dampers don’t ever really know what they’re meant to be ironing out. Cross axle bumps upset it the most.

It’s odd, because usually Lexus does wafting pretty well (with the exception of the first-gen NX and hatchback CT). A Lexus has generally flowed down a road well – granted, feeling disconnected but at least comfortable. It was never a performance that got road testers frothing at the mouth, but it did at least mean relaxing motoring. In this ES, that’s been lost.

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