The ES gets a digital instrument screen and an 8.0in infotainment system as standard, but the latter is upgraded to a 12.3in screen on higher trim levels or as part of an option pack. We have yet to test the standard version, but the upgraded system is controlled via a ‘remote touch’ fingertip-entry touchpad that isn’t the easiest to operate. You trace your fingertip to move an icon around the screen, a bit like using a trackpad on a laptop computer – except the system insists on the kind of precision that will be difficult to muster for many with their left hand and in a moving car. The pad is supposed to also recognise pinch, swipe, double-tap and handwriting input, and yet zooming the navigation map to your required scale takes two or three attempts, while even routine tasks such as changing the radio station can be tricky.
The driving position is straight and sound, and is comfortable rather than sporty, with good visibility. The seats (Lexus’s optional 10-way adjustable ones) are comfortable, with decent lateral support. Meanwhile, the digital instruments change their appearance according to drive modes (which are selected using an odd-looking stalk that’s a bit of a stretch to reach, since it sprouts from the side of the instrument binnacle). If you want an analogue-style rev counter dial, you can have one; but speed is indicated on a digital counter both in the binnacle and – if equipped – on the unusually large head-up display.
The interior uses materials of fairly impressive quality, although it’s not likely to appeal to the senses quite like the interior in an Audi A6 or Mercedes-Benz E-Class. More expensive models use soft, tactile leather generously, but they also have slush-moulded and hard plastics masquerading as hide in places – and not very convincingly so in some areas. Overall, the interior doesn’t quite have the lavishness of Lexus’s bigger models, although there’s little to really complain about, and most will be happy that it feels like a proper premium-quality environment.