2018 Lexus ES300h India Review, First Drive

2018 Lexus ES300h India Review: We spend some time with the world-renowned entry-level luxury car from Lexus. The brand makes its entry into India as enthusiasts and fans awaited all this long

Enchanting –

  • One of a kind design, truly stands out
  • Hybrid powertrain is docile and fun to live with
  • Comfortable and Surprisingly fuel efficient
  • Electronics make it easy to ride

Unsatisfying –

  • Could be more dynamic to drive
  • Interior can be more modern and loaded

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The luxury car market has grown exponentially. The German manufacturers have taken the market to the next level with their range of products on offer to the Indian market. Right from suvs to their potent sedans. Recently Volvo and Jaguar have contributed to the same by a big margin. Now, Lexus wants to contribute to that and it has entered the market late or if you compare its core competition, which are other Japanese luxury car manufacturers, it is the first one. Lexus finally gave us the ES300h to spend some time with. We tell you whether it is worth the second look.

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2018 Lexus ES300h India Review, First Drive-20

In terms of styling, Lexus cars have been different by a huge margin. The ES here comes with a very large spindle grille at the front, a curvy and intimidating side profile which showcases muscle, steel, and glass in abundance. The wheels look different from the way the rest of the car looks. The headlamps look super sharp and progressive and has LED DRL and projector with LED lights on offer. The tail-lamps are also LED and look really good with smoky and larger effect. The extremely low stance gives it a proper executive car look it deserves which ends up lending credible street presence. It hasn’t been updated in quite some time because it has been doing a good job really well worldwide.

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2018 Lexus ES300h India Review, First Drive-25

When it comes to the interior, there is leather all around the cabin. The dashboard, the steering and everything else feel good to touch and hold. However, the buttons, screen, and controls in the middle of the dashboard look dated and not so rich, to begin with. The infotainment system is dated and is controlled by a mouse which is a good touch. Lack of touch screen, navigation and apple car play and android auto in 2018 isn’t a great idea, to begin with.

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All of that is compensated with a to good to be true Mark and Levinson sound system which has excellent bass and sound quality on offer. There are cooled seats, Bluetooth, aux and USB on offer. Electrochromic (Auto-dimming) Aspherical Exterior Side Mirrors with Turn Lamps, Retractable, Reverse Linked, Memoryand a futuristic and 3 display cluster on offer help it an executive ambiance in the cabin. The sunroof is on offer, but is small in size and could have been better. Steering mounted controls, cruise control, 3-zone Auto Recirculation Air Conditioning System, electric seats are part of the feature list. Space in the back seats is good with segment best legroom and headroom on offer. It is a strict four-seater though. Boot space is good, but not deep thanks to the hybrid batteries stored below it.

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Safety kit includes Driver and Front Passenger Airbag, Driver and Front Passenger Knee Airbags, Driver and Front Passenger Side Airbags, Front and Rear Seat Curtain Shield Airbags, Rear Seat Side Airbags, Seat belts,3-point Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) seat belts with Pretensioner and Force Limiter Lighting, Traction Control (TRC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Brake Assist System (BA), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Security System; Intrusion Sensor, Immobilizer, Factory-fitted Front and Back Sensors and Rear View Camera and Monitor Display.


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The hybrid motor coupled with a gasoline 2.5-liter 4-cylinder motor makes 205 BHP of power and 213 Nm of torque. The electric motor provides EV mode which can be selected separately. The speeds it can reach is upto 40 km/hr after that, even if the battery is fully charged. The naturally aspirated motor is coupled to a CVT gearbox which is a typical layout with executive sedans from Japan.

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The power goes to the front wheel so there is torque steer when you push it hard. There are three driving modes on offer and they change the way the drivetrain behaves in modes such as Eco, normal and sport as their name suggests. Engine, gearbox and steering were the ones that became apt to the way one of three modes was selected. In our testing, the car delivered 16 km/l, did 0-100 km/hr in 8.2 seconds and top speed was around the 190 km/hr mark.

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The rubber band effect is imperative in the higher range. The gearbox works best while overtaking and at slow speeds in the city. Once you leave the throttle, the car continues to coast and this is where fuel is saved by a big margin. Braking charges the battery. The performance is good, could have been higher and there is enough driveability on offer all the time. The NVH levels are stellar and the cabin is the quietest of the lot as it bared of all the noises the outside world has to give.


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In the corners, the ES300h displays a considerable amount of body roll which is due to the soft suspension on offer. The steering is super light and easy to use in the city but the highway feedback is almost nill and the precision isn’t super sharp either.

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All of this is a trade-off, as the car is easy to drive and ride quality is fantastic. We wish the ES300h was more fun to ride, but it is orientated to the comfort side. Tires are good as they do not squeal easily. The brake pedal offers not so good bite, but braking performance is good. Long wheelbase and just about enough ground clearance mean you have to be careful over speed breakers when loaded with four passengers and luggage.

2018 Lexus ES300h India vs Jaguar Xe
Standard European Diesel Saloon or Japanese Petrol Hybrid. What would you choose?

2018 Lexus ES300h India Review, Verdict

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Lexus gave us a tour recently and has said that they plan to treat their guests in a way that other manufacturer cannot. We did sample some of that and came back impressed. What also works in the favor of the Lexus ES300h is the price, the design and the practicality it offers in this particular segment against its rival. It is eco-friendly and the brand’s new entry should definitely appeal to its targetted audience. We will have to see how the Indian audience reacts, from our side, we definitely think the ES300h is worth the second look and thought.

Lexus ES300h India Review
  • Design
  • Performance
  • Dynamics
  • Features
  • Practicality
  • Space
  • Interior
  • Safety
  • Value

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