The latest Lexus ES executive sedan's engaging drive supports its athletic styling
Lexus ES a bigger and sportier ride he Lexus ES offers a composed ride with little body roll. PHOTO: LEXUS

The ES is Lexus' best-selling model after the RX. The current sixth generation car, launched six years ago, still looks fresh from the oven.

The latest 2019 model resembles the flagship LS at first glance and assumes more muscular and athletic lines - as if it spent many hours in the Lexus gym.

Its sports-defined, sinewy shoulders aft of the C-pillars, an imposing new front grille which takes after the two-door LC coupe and the LS, and an overall bigger footprint.

The car is 45mm wider, 65mm longer and sits 5mm lower than the outgoing one. The wheelbase is also longer by 50mm. Each wheel is nearer every corner of the new body, which results in tracks widening by 10mm in front and 30mm at the rear. The profile makes for a squat and purposeful stance.

It also makes for a roomier interior. Rear legroom is LS-like.

On the move, the luxurious cabin is noticeably more refined, thanks to more sound-proofing materials and a stiffer body.

The biggest difference is steering feedback. In the previous ES, it is woolly and uncommunicative. In the 2019 model, it is razor-sharp, thanks to a new electric power steering system mounted directly on the steering rack instead of the steering column.

It is a delight to steer the new car in the twisty back roads of suburban Nashville. I am in complete control as I flick the steering wheel left and right with no second guessing whether I am in my lane on the tight and narrow roads. The ride is composed with little body roll. The car feels lithe and sporty.

It is powered by a 2,487cc normally aspirated four-cylinder. It has the same capacity as its predecessor, but with a longer stroke and smaller bore to enhance fuel efficiency.

It makes 204hp and 243Nm of torque - some 20hp and 8Nm more than previously, but at higher revs. The front wheels are driven via an eight-speed automatic transmission found in the LC and LS.

The engine also finds a role in a hybrid, mated with a lighter and smaller electric motor. Hand in hand, they produce 215hp and 221Nm of torque, channelled to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission, like now.

The nickel-metal hydride battery is now relocated under the rear seat instead of the boot, thanks to a slimmer and more compact design.

This means that boot space in the hybrid version is no longer compromised and offers the same 473 litres as its non-hybrid twin.

The ES' cabin is well-executed and classy. The steering wheel has been nicked from the LS and there is a massive 12.3-inch multi-information display.

There is a pair of rotary knobs on the driver instrumentation binnacle, similar to those found in the LC and LS - the right for the Eco, Normal and Sport settings, and the left for traction control.

Lexus intends to win over new customers with the ES. From the way it looks, the way it is equipped and the way it drives, it has a pretty good chance of doing that.