My brand perception, however, altered slightly when I tested the ES 250. The six-generation ES landed in South Africa in November and its layout was quite surprising for many. It’s front-wheel-driven and features a 2.5-litre 135kW/235Nm four-cylinder engine, which in a car that weighs around 1 600kg, does not seem like very much. The weight can be felt at the pumps, with the claimed 8.0 litres/100km not being a very realistic figure - on a combined cycle I managed 9.8 litres/100km.
With the specs in mind, I went about driving the Lexus normally, through the daily grind and even some open-road stuff. By the time I had reached home on my first day with the car, I couldn’t help but notice how calm my demeanour had become. At first I thought that it was perhaps a freakish occurrence that I had simply blocked out the infuriating Johannesburg traffic, but when the same thing happened the next day, I had to conclude that the ES was to blame.
Driving it around allows you to channel out the outside world and because you know that it isn’t a performance hero, you never really feel the need to hurry anywhere. The six-speed automatic transmission is not in a hurry either, but that doesn’t really matter. The suspension has been judged beautifully; it is not a dynamic car but at the same time it will also never leave you in any sort of driving pain, thanks to that soft ride.
The most impressive aspect of the ES is the interior space. The cabin is about the size of its GS sibling although it costs less than the smaller the IS. Standard features include Remote Touch Interface with navigation through an eight-inch infotainment colour monitor. The infotainment system comprises of Bluetooth audio and telephony, USB, auxiliary and CD/MP3 compatibility. There is also a rather classy analogue clock in the dashboard. A sunroof, remote keyless entry, electric seats, electrochromatic mirror, back guide monitor and park distance control are also standard.
Safety-wise, the ES has lane change assist with a blind spot monitor - which came in very handy - vehicle stability control as well as ABS with EBD and brake assist along with 10 airbags.
While not the most inspired design both inside and out, it does match the understated charm of ES. It gets the Lexus family face along with daytime running lights and 17-inch alloys to liven up the package a bit.
At R435 900, the Lexus ES 250 provides the buyer with a comfortable, well-equipped and good-looking package at a reasonable price. The ES was a car I thought I would simply not like, but I just couldn’t help but fall for its relaxing nature. Now to return to my moaning during the daily trudge.