Our first European drive of Lexus’ GS replacement reveals an improved car of many talents – but with a familiar Achilles’ heel
A relatively big change in what is traditionally a conservative sector. Lexus has decided the time is right to change tack in Europe and focus on delivering volume, and the new ES plays a core role in that.ES is a nameplate that will be instantly familiar to those in the US and Asian markets, given Lexus has shifted 2.3 million of the things since the first generation went on sale way back in 1989. It’s not a known quantity in Britain, despite now being lined up to replace the GS here. The reasoning is sound, however. The GS survived four generations in the UK without ever really capturing the market. But where Lexus always seemed content carving its own path with a modest 0.5% market share, now targets have been set to double that in the next year or so. The ES has greater potential to increase sales and profitability once supply issues have been ironed out (Lexus’ biggest markets can’t get enough of them), because unlike the rear-wheel drive GS it can compete financially with the fleet-heavy lower rungs of the executive sector: mainly the four-cylinder offerings from Mercedes, Audi and BMW. The front-wheel drive platform is adapted from that of the hugely popular Toyota Camry, allowing Lexus to benefit from greater economies of scale and lower build costs. It means the ES is cheaper than the car it succeeds – a rare thing in this sector – but features more standard kit. The platform also brings more space, while Lexus claims better refinement and a more polished driving experience despite the loss of the ‘enthusiasts choice’ of chassis layout.
Source: – autocar
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