Lexus targets 'Big Three' buyers as it reveals price and spec of new ES
Malaga: Key details - Lexus ES & RC
LEXUS is planning to take big numbers of buyers from the German 'Big Three' (Audi, BMW and Mercedes) as it reveals detailed pricing and specification levels for the new mid-size luxury ES hybrid saloon.
The ES, which replaces the GS, is effectively on sale in Ireland as of now and costs from €49,450.
That's for the ES300h Executive which will be, they say, the biggest seller (60pc of sales). The 300h Luxury level (20pc of sales) costs €55,350 with the 300h F-Sport at €55,850 and the Premium version coming in at €62,390. Prices include government rebate of €1,500.
The ES, with its fourth generation 2.5-litre hybrid system, arrives at a critical, and hugely competitive, juncture for cars in the segment.
As a hybrid it chimes with moves away from diesel, which has been the pre-dominant driver of cars in this class for some time.
The brand is also at pains to point out that its starting price is below that of the 'Big Three' - all of whom are at least €1,180 above the €50,000 mark.
They would, no doubt, dispute the comparison purely on price.
But the psychological aspect of a sub-€50,000 premium car can not be ignored and is likely to stand them in some stead as they attempt conquest sales of 80pc to reach their target of 180 buyers.
With the upgraded Lexus Safety System + as standard, the ES hybrid is built on the global GA-K platform, is front-wheel driven and develops 218hp in total. Emissions are from 106g/km (€190 tax) and the boot stretches to 454 litres.
There is a new smaller power control unit which is now on the transaxle to save space and weight.
And the nickel metal hydride battery is under the rear seats to allow for more boot space. Lack of decent boot room was the major criticism of the GS.
The battery is also slotted lower and more centrally to give a better centre of gravity.
They are claiming a world first for their special shock absorbers with low velocity valves that can dampen even slight movements.
Standard spec includes pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic lane keep assist, auto high beam, automatic braking, pedestrian detection (day/night), cyclist detection (day).
Entry-level Executive spec also includes 17ins alloys, 8ins display, rear-view camera,10-speaker audio system, 2-zone climate control, Tahara upholstery, premium nav, 7ins TFT information display, LED headlamps, heated/electric front seats (lumbar support), sunroof, rear spoiler, eco/normal/sport drive modes, front/rear parking sensors.
Luxury adds 18ins alloys, smooth leather upholstery, front ventilated seats, rear-cross-traffic auto brake, electrically adjustable steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, wireless charger, partial wood trim.
F-Sport adds 19ins alloys, adaptive variable suspension (AVS), F SPORT design touches/specials throughout the vehicle, 8ins information display, triple LED headlamps, front/rear performance dampers.
And Premium adds 12.3ins display with DVD, panoramic view monitor with pedestrian alert, semi-aniline leather upholstery, 3-zone climate control.
Meanwhile the RC 300h coupe has been updated and, again, first models are coming onto the Irish market now.
Prices start from €56,950. It's now designed to look like a smaller version of the excellent LC 500. There is no change to the hybrid engine. The brand's safety system and premium navigation are standard.
It is powered by the 2.5-litre (4cyl, 2,494cc) hybrid system and has a 340 litre boot.
Main differences include new bumpers, grille, headlamps, rear lamps, wheels and interior elements.
There are two grades - Luxury and F Sport. With the pre-collision system standard, equipment embraces adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, auto high beam, lane departure alert, front/rear parking sensors, 10 speakers, sat nav, heated front seats.
With the shift away from diesel it is hardly surprising to learn that Lexus expect to reap the benefits with hybrid.
But they claim the current relief on diesel is keeping businesses, in particular, from switching to the likes of hybrid or petrol.
They want it abolished or petrol treated equally.
Expect more on that battlefront as petrol hybrids look set to account for 10pc of the total new-car market this year - an estimated 12,000 cars.