The interior layout, fit and finish
The ES has a digital instrument screen and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with built in sat nav plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity as standard, but the latter is upgraded to a 12.3in screen on top Takumi models, and is also available as part of an option pack for F Sport. We have yet to test the standard version, but the upgraded system is controlled via a ‘remote touch’ touchpad that isn’t the easiest to operate.
You trace your fingertip on a pad on the centre console to move an icon around the screen. It’s a bit like using a trackpad on a laptop computer, except that the system insists on the kind of precision that many will find will difficult to master with their left hand and in a moving car. The pad is supposed to also recognise pinch, swipe, double-tap and handwriting input, yet we found it to take two or three attempts to zoom the navigation map to our required scale. In fact, even routine tasks such as changing the radio station can be tricky. Although it’s certainly an improvement over older Lexuses, we’d much rather have a rotary dial.
The driving position is sound, and is comfortable rather than sporty, with good visibility that’s helped at night by standard automatic LED headlights. There are also automatic wipers, a rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors on all models. You can opt to have cameras in place of regular door mirrors in top Takumi trim but we wouldn’t bother; the displays are of a disappointingly low resolution and the system is pricey. The seats are comfortable, with adjustable lumbar support as standard and decent lateral support although our taller testers found the seat didn’t quite go low enough. F Sport gets sportier seats with more side support, but these are just as comfortable.
Meanwhile, the digital instruments change their appearance depending on the drive mode selected; you do this via an odd-looking stalk that sprouts from the side of the instrument binnacle where it’s a bit of a stretch to reach. If you want an analogue-style rev counter dial, you can select one, but the instrument panel has nowhere near the level of configurability of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.
The interior uses materials of fairly impressive quality, but the interior it’s not likely to appeal to the senses in quite the same way as that of the Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series. More expensive models use soft leather generously, but they also have plenty of leatherette masquerading as hide in places – and not very convincingly so in some areas. We also found some surprisingly scratchy plastics around the door bins and centre console that aren’t as appealing as the squishier materials in German rivals.
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