The interior layout, fit and finish
The ES has a digital instrument screen and an 8.0-inch infotainment system 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 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 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. The seats are comfortable, with decent lateral support although 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 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 select one; but speed is indicated on a digital counter both in the binnacle and – if equipped – on the unusually large head-up display. Sadly it has nowhere near the level of configurability of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.
The interior uses materials of fairly impressive quality, although 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, tactile 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.