When Lexus introduces the ES saloon to the UK market early in 2019, it’ll represent an interesting change of direction for the Japanese brand. For more than two decades, Toyota’s premium brand has been selling the GS rear-wheel-drive sports saloon in the UK as an alternative to the BMW 5 Series and, latterly, the Jaguar XF; now, it is electing to offer us Brits the similarly sized front-wheel-drive ES instead.
Shifts in strategy as notable as this don’t come along very often and are usually evidence that a manufacturer is getting serious about improving its fortunes. You could certainly say that about Lexus, whose European sales may have doubled over the past five years but which is still a long way from rivalling the German competition on this continent.
Sharing a platform with another Japanese saloon that few Brits will know, the Toyota Camry, the ES should be slightly cheaper than the GS when it comes to the UK. Like some other Lexus models, it’ll be available with only a petrol-electric hybrid engine, and should have the low CO2 emissions, high equipment levels and strong value proposition to make it a much more appealing company car than the GS.
Read on over the next few pages to find out what the ES is like to drive and how it feels inside.