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All right, so Lexus hasn’t had the most timely entry in the Indian market. But it comes in having proven itself as a global contender, at a time when its competitors here run the risk of becoming overfamiliar. It’s been imported into the country unofficially in the past, and in not-insignificant numbers, so clearly there’s something about the very best of Japanese luxury that resonates with buyers in the country.
With five models in the stable (three of which are hybrids), it’s come in hot and, more importantly, it’s come in green – starting with the Lexus ES300h, a taste of hybrid luxury served up in a swashbuckling sedan with a fairly large footprint and trademark Lexus design details all over its sweeping form.
The ES has a few things working in its favour. For one, it’s a hybrid, packing the same drivetrain as the formidable Toyota Camry, except in a different state of tune. This means it gets the same 2.5-litre petrol engine supplemented by a 105kw electric motor, with the combined power levels adding up to 205bhp. Apart from adding to the fuel economy, the electric motor takes care of all the mundane duties, ensuring a smooth, silent exit from the driveway. The battery recovers energy through deceleration and braking, and is capable of running independently on a full charge, up to 60kph. This charge, however, gets depleted rather quickly, so it works best in unison with the engine and the CVT gearbox, ensuring a steady and seamless supply of power at all times.
Then there’s how the ES rides. The suspension doesn’t exactly wallow, but it’s tuned to be supple enough to gently absorb impact and preserve dental fillings. Much like the RX, the ES rides like skiboards on a slab of butter, disconnecting you from your environment. And the tan brown leather treatment on the inside immediately puts it in the big league. Lexus is known for its obsession with details. And it shows in the way the interiors have been put together.
What doesn’t work in the ES’ favour is the fact that it arrives as a CBU. And this brings the price up to an eyebrow-raising ₹55.27 lakh (Ex-Delhi). That ought to change when Lexus starts assembling its cars locally, so you’re not likely to see the ES flying off the shelves until then. Even though it’s a spectacularly well-appointed and comfortable car to drive or be driven in. As a mid-point between traditional, internal combustion-driven luxury and an all-electric future, it doesn’t, for the moment, get much better than this.
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