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Old 15th April 2017, 17:32   #1
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Default Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update


Part I - Selection, Buying Experience, Highlights, Hybrid, Safety, Driving

This review is based on 4 months and 4000 odd kms of driving in Delhi-NCR and a few inter-city trips. As I am new to hybrids I thought let this review come with some miles under the belt. The photos are courtesy my youngest who is the only non-earning member of the parivaar and hence willing to work to earn pin money!

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-1.e10.jpg
The subject matter of this discussion. Handsome and aggressive looking in its own way with a traditional side profile and an unconventional frontispiece.
Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-2.e9.jpg
Side View. 5 metres in length. The car is longer than it seems. The rear half falls gracefully in a curve.

The Stable

Our stable comprised of - Amaze, Jazz, Superb and XC60 Volvo. We are a large family with many needs. Amaze is for my mother & aunt and the Superb for wifey - each with its own driver to keep sasu-bahu battles at bay. The Volvo is used by me and the Jazz is the utility hack and used by the young adults for important matters like going on dates, doing good deeds for the gramps, escaping from parental oversight, transporting potted plants for their mother etc.


We debated on whether we refurbish the Superb (M/T) and give it another 2 years or go for a luxury barge now. The young adults opined we continue with the Superb till a hybrid luxury model hoved in sight. And so we waited. Honda Accord Hybrid was looked at but rejected as not being an upgrade over a Superb in terms of the interiors. For a brief moment in time I dreamt of the Volvo XC90 hybrid plug-in but it is well beyond my pay grade though in all other ways fits the bill. The Superb M/T had completed 6 plus years and about 118,000 kms at time of sale.

Why Hybrid

I am keen on shifting, over the next few years, to hybrids, all electrics or other greener technology. I firmly believe that over the next decade and a half that is where the world will significantly move towards. This may not be a popular view on a forum of internal combustion lovers. It is possible that a point of inflexion is around the corner where hybrid-electric-hydrogen powered cars are concerned.

An analogy from my profession -in 1950 aero engines were primarily pistons with the turbo-compounds being at the leading edge and many top airliners (Douglas DC-6, Douglas DC-7, Lockheed Constellation, Convair 440) persisted on with them through the 1950s because of the superior range they offered over the early turbojets. Turbine power had come into the military by mid-1940s and through the Rolls Royce Dart to commercial airliners by 1953 but the pistons continued to dominate. In 2 years between 1959 and 1961 the first generation jet airliners (Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8, Sud Aviation Caravelle) so over took the market, in one sweep, that the prime fleet of 1958 became the secondary fleet of 1961 and the cargo fleet of 1965. I know retail market for cars is different but sharing a concept of how an idea whose time has come can sweep the floor.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-3.e5.jpg
Proud to carry the blue badge. A first for our family. The argument about coal burning power plants is valid but I believe we have to start somewhere.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-4.bd3.jpg
The engine title reinforces the hybrid status.

Key Purchase Criteria

The first important criteria is that I am not just buying a physical product but a composite product+service for 10 years. The physical product, consistent after sales service, associated attitude and lifetime ownership cost all need to be of a fully acceptable high standard.

Second important criteria is a top rating on safety. If this is not met little else counts. My last purchase was a Volvo so the reader would understand this emphasis.

All other criterion are equal and in bucket number three:

- Must be a hybrid or all electric
- Should be a reliable car...15 to 18,000 kms a year with 15 out station trips a year
- Should be a luxury car with a very comfy back seat ride
- Back seat comfort, leg room, conveniences and NVH are key
- Quality of interiors to be well above our Volvo XC60. Preference for quiet well finished looks
- Competence, attitude and courtesy of after sales support is sine qua non for the purchase

Being a Driver's Car is not on the list.

The Decision

The advice from Team BHPians was most useful. The discussion thread is here .

The thought of going for a Lexus was tossed into the fray by Lamborghini. Turbanator guided me to checking out the LWB E-class. My natural inclination is to be thrifty. So there was a toss up between spending so much money (Rs 65 to 70L) or staying with the Superb/Camry range. The E-class's interiors are opulent and spell class in every way. The Lexus's interiors are up there but shy of the new E except on leather and wood finish in which the ES exceeds. Reliability, excellent A.S.S. and decent dealer behavior are very high on my list. Here feedback from over a dozen neighbours and associates who all drive a Mercedes did not help. Audi and BMW were not in consideration. Audi because it is too common and they keep sending SMS's like real estate brokers. BMW due to no stepney, run flat, hard ride, less rear leg space and hydro-locks. Though looks wise BMW's are gorgeous.

The S.90 Volvo was a serious contender - stunning looks, reasonably decent interiors and effective after sales service (as experienced with our XC60). Two factors went against it - (i) ingress and egress was difficult with a low rear seat. It was uncomfortable for me in late middle age and would be more so for the 3 elders in the family. We needed more rear seat leg space and ease of entry - my pa-in-law is now 90 and rather tall (ii) no hybrid version though I am told one is on the way in 2018

The Buying Experience

Both Toyota Kirloskar and the local Lexus dealer addressed my many questions via email or personal meetings - about a dozen emails and 4 meetings at my residence. My letters to the Toyota Kirloskar Managing Director, Akitoshi Takemura were replied to promptly by him as were emails to the Lexus Gurgaon dealer-owner. All this left a very positive impression on me that Lexus as a brand, at the senior most levels, are willing to cheerfully engage with the customer and do not hide behind the dealer's sales officer and showroom manager.

This is the first time I have spent so much money on a car. Money that, like with many BHPians, has been earned with some effort over a lifetime. And I expect that the senior management of the OEM be willing to engage with the customer with an ounce of finesse and respect.

Test drive of about 2 hours was arranged in late March. The Team BHP PDI check list was sent to Lexus in advance and they patiently walked through the list with me item by item. Interestingly I had visited Grace Toyota once in 2014 to check out the Camry Hybrid. Had told them then that if Lexus ever came to India they should call me. Toyota remembered and called me in late 2016. I had forgotten this earlier conversation but the call 2 years on left a very positive impression.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-6.e8.jpg
And so the Lexus ES300h arrived in early April'17. Colour and interiors selected by my wife - steel grey exterior; beige interiors with bamboo wood matt finish. As this is her car we went 50:50 - she got to pick the combination while I got to choose the car! Car was delivered with a full tank. I was told this was the first Lexus delivered in Delhi-NCR. Bragging rights are important in hamari Dilli.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-7.be1.jpg
The buying experience has been a 9.9 on 10. From the dealer-owner to the GM to the sales manager they could not have been more attentive, patient and courteous. And they continue to keep in touch. They make you feel you are important to Lexus and the feel good factor can get addictive! In this area of human interface Toyota Lexus are a mile ahead of Mercedes' non-communicativeness and Audi's bombardment by SMS. Over the years I have purchased 12 vehicles for personal use and none of the OEMs even came within shouting distance of the holistic interface Lexus displayed at all levels of the organization.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-8.be2.jpg
When a customer purchases an expensive asset he expects courtesy, accessibility, finesse and willingness to spend time through first the decision process, second through the actual buying and third as the car settles in. Here Lexus has touched a happy chord sadly missing in some other OEMs.

Lexus ES300h - Quiet Comfort

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-9.e1.jpg
The ES300h is a car that since its inception in 1990 has remained true to its calling of providing a car with a first class rear seat comfort above all else and a low stress driving experience. Its superb NVH levels and cushy floating ride all point to two words - Quiet Comfort. If that's what your priorities are then go for this car and be ready to burn a small hole in your pocket. While this model is new to India it is a mature one in the world market and may get replaced in a couple of years. Some risk there. I have purchased it keeping a 10-year perspective. The model may change more than once over that horizon.

Basic Details


Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-10.bd2.jpg
2494cc, four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid
160 bhp at 5700rpm petrol engine+140 bhp motor = 202 bhp combined
213Nm at 4,500rpm (engine)


Front-wheel drive
Gearbox Electronic-CVT


Length 4915mm
Width 1820mm
Height 1450mm
Wheel base 2820mm
GC 151mm
Turning Radius 5.7 metres

Tyres 215/55 R
Suspension MacPherson Struts back & front
Brakes 16" discs back & front

Other Features

Rain sensing wipers
Steering column with tilt and telescope and memory of your position
Inside rear view mirror dims automatically in case of a glare
ORVM tilts on reversing
Moon roof
Daytime running lights
Front & rear fog lamps


Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-11.e2.jpg
  • Looks are, amen, unconventional - either you like it or you don't. Like the taste of marmite it is supposed to grow on you! You are not likely to mistake it for another car!! The external paint work is outstanding - better even than the Volvo XC60 which itself is finished to quite a high standard. On day one the car was covered in 3M's protective film all over.

  • Silent ride - excellent on NVH. At signals and slow crawls the car runs on the motor-battery combination thus adding to the quietness. Back seat ride over bumps and holes is gentle and well damped like it should be in such a car.

    Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-12.i12-copy.jpg
  • High quality interiors and woodwork. The quality and matt finish of the woodwork is better than the E-class LWB (which also evaluated) and much better than the S.90 (also checked). I have tried to take a photo that depicts the quality of finish on the leather, the wood and hand stitch. The photo however does not do full justice.

    Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-13.bd1.jpg
  • 425 litre dickey. Roughly the size of the dickey of a Vento I think.

    Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-14.stepney.jpg
  • Stepney and tools under the floor unlike some European marques

  • Full size alloy spare wheel in its traditional rear cavity. Lexus has fitted the batteries, the stepney and a 425 litre dickey where some other OEMs have difficulty accommodating a spare. The batteries are placed in the front part of the dickey between the dickey and the rear seat. The new Honda Accord (10th generation) apparently has its batteries beneath the rear seat bench thus releasing space in the dickey. Lexus may want to consider this design change in the next model of the ES300h.

  • 5 year warranty on the battery & the car. Toyota tell me the battery is for life and they have had only a handful of cases internationally requiring a battery change.

  • Servicing every 10,000kms after the first 1000 kms free service. Service costs expected to be Rs 12,000 at the first 10,000 kms mark and between Rs 15,000 & Rs 35,000 thereafter per event.

  • Total cost Rs 70.3 lakhs including local taxes and insurance. Toyota have a Lexus Protect insurance covering zero depreciation, tyres and alloys, personal belongings (in the car), hydro-lock, return to invoice and keys and locks. Understandably for an asset like this buying a fully loaded insurance helps.
The hybrid drive train

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-15.f6.jpg
The charging, regenerative braking, consumption can be viewed visually on the centre screen and the dashboard.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-16.bd4.jpg
Location of battery pack between the rear seat and the dickey.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-17.-batt-vents.jpg
Ventilation for the rear mounted hybrid battery power pack is via these louvres on the rear seat sides.

The Lexus ES 300h uses a hybrid powertrain that comprises a 160hp, 2.5-litre petrol engine and a 105kw (140bhp) electric motor. The combined maximum power of the hybrid system is 202bhp. The electric motor draws power from a 245V nickel-hydride battery pack positioned behind the rear seats. While the setup and power output is same as the Toyota Camry Hybrid the Lexus runs a different ECU for its powertrain. The system has the now familiar regenerative braking.

Ride & driving experience

Ride and driving experience is one of the key reasons I bought this car - the enthusiast should not look surprised - different strokes for different folks. When you switch on with the press of a button the dash board lights up. That is your cue that the car is ready. No sound. Not even a hum. Very silently in a relaxed manner you glide forward in 'D'. Initially till around 20 kmph the car stays in electric mode. After that the car's computer decides when to switch on and off the petrol engine. The switch on and off of the petrol engine is almost noiseless. You don't hear it unless you listen intently to pick the sound. So typically from starting from a signal light and in stop-start traffic the car glides silently.

The NVH levels and cushiness of the rear seat ride are way better than either the XC60 or the old Superb. I will risk my scalp by stating the NVH of the ES beats that of the E class by a noticeable margin. The ES is aimed at those who prize quietness and a relaxed, cushy driving or riding experience. The sound proofing is exceptional and a joy to experience.

Where ride cushiness is concerned it is very hard to discern a difference with the new LWB E-class. It would be fair to say the two are in the same comfort league at least under 100 kmph. I assume any E model is more planted at higher speeds.

Usual overtaking on the highway even in Eco mode is very normal and without effort. Spirited overtaking will need the Normal mode.

Safety features

5-Star NCAP safety rating (out of a maximum score possible of 5-stars)
10 SRS Airbags
Hill start assist
Vehicle Stability Control
Auto door lock at 15 kmph (not sure of exact speed)
Hazard warning indicators
Tyre pressure warning with location
Front fog lamp indicator
Anti-theft system
Child seat anchors

In IIHS testing, the car received the Top Safety Pick+ award in 2016 after it earned a Good score on all crash tests (Good is the highest possible score) and a Superior rating on the forward collision prevention and mitigation test.

NHTSA safety crash test video

Several reviews mention about being a hybrid making braking not as sure footed as in a normal IC engine car. I must admit I am no expert at automotive braking but in 4000 kms of driving neither I nor our 2 drivers have found it any different to use than say our Volvo or old Superb. For the average driver puttering around from point A to point B or travelling on highways the brakes are as good as they come.

Ground Clearance

Ground clearance while nominally at 151mm is iffy because of the soft cushion suspension. I have scrapped speed breakers more than a few times thus far especially the really big ones. In comparison in 7 years I have never hit a breaker in our Honda Jazz with its 160mm ground clearance and stiffer suspension. One needs to be cautious. This is something Lexus may want to look into to make this car friendlier for India. This is the one and only aspect that has caused me irritation.

Drive Modes

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-18.f10.jpg
The 3 driving modes. Our driving is 90% of the time in Eco mode. More than adequate for city driving. On highways Normal is better. The EV mode is for very short distances of 2 or 4 kms only.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-19.dashe.jpg
The drive mode has three settings - Eco, Normal and Sport. Normal is powerful enough to meet all your car-cranal needs within city limits. Eco is definitely Eco and acceleration is a bit slower but more than adequate for normal city overtaking. The Sport mode I have tried only once to experience it and can't say much because it is not my cup of tea. I have not driven above 100 kmph for a sustained stretch and cannot comment on high speed driving. But at 100 kmph the car is completely stable and smooth and very quiet.


Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-20.f2.jpg
The steering is light with a gentle feedback feel. Easy when you are parking in a tight spot. The steering is not meant for the enthusiast but for the daily driver. The matt finish bamboo wood and leather stitching look delightfully luxurious and add to the feel good factor. When you exit the steering moves in to create more space for the driver to egress. A useful touch for those with a waist.


Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-49.park.jpg
The car does not have a full auto-park feature. It instead has the proximity warning (audio & visual) and the camera at the rear to aid parking. We are all creatures of habit and training. Given the time period in which I learnt how to drive even today I park or reverse using the IRVM and ORVM only. Though I must say the rear camera does help confirm there is no small child or unseen obstruction.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel consumption has been measured through the full tank to full tank method. Over the first 1500 kms with the power train set for 'Normal' mode the average fuel consumption driving in Delhi-NCR was 14.8 kms/litre. For convenience sake I'll say 14 kms/litre in city driving. Similarly over the next 1300 kms it was measured in 'Eco' mode and the fuel consumption came to 15.9 kms/litre. Let's round that down to 14 for Normal and 15 for Eco. The tank carries 65 litres. That gives a theoretical full tank range of ~900 kms in city traffic.


Good for hot and humid tropical climates. 3 -zone. Tested through Delhi's summer.


Mark Levinson 15 speaker audio. Sounds jolly neat to me but I am no expert on audio quality.


Takumi is the traditional Japanese culture of excellence and hand craft in craftsmanship. This ethos is followed at Lexus's production plants like a religion. The aim of the craftsman leader is to ensure perfection and predictability in every piece produced be it a casting or a stitching. I am sure other top end manufacturers have their own methods and cultures of engineering excellence too. I can see it in the Lexus' interiors of which I understand a little (from my business).

Last edited by V.Narayan : 7th August 2017 at 19:13.
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Old 5th August 2017, 21:47   #2
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update


Part II - Exteriors, Cockpit, Interiors,
Is the Lexus a re-badged Camry, Service philosophy, Pricing, Conclusion


Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-21.e4.jpg
Rear view with the 'L' shaped brake lights. When braking suddenly the brake light blinks rapidly to caution the driver following. The rear windscreen has a net shade that can be operated by a button in the cockpit. Note the 4 tiny circular covers for the rear parking sensors

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-22.e6.jpg
The ES300h in India is available in only this alloy design. The alloy design chosen is smart and appealing.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-23.e7.jpg
Headlamps, Turn indicator and daytime running lights. Pointed arrows is the theme. The headlights switch on, automatically, as in some other cars, when you enter a dark space like a tunnel or parking basement.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-24.e9.jpg
Driver's side ORVM. Not as good as our Volvo or Jazz. In Indian traffic where fighter-bombers plunge in from all rearward directions without warning ORVMs need to be bigger. On the plus side they have an auto-dimmer, automatically turn down when reversing and have a driver memory built-in.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-25.i7.jpg
Door sill in matt steel finish.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-26.i9.jpg
Sun roof. Lexus calls it the moon roof. The opaque slide (beneath the smoked glass one) is moved manually while the transparency moves back-forth and up-down via a button. A lot of middle to high end cars have this. In my opinion these serve little purpose in our country with its sun, heat and dust.


Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-27.full-dash.jpg
Overall view of the cockpit. Understated looks. The real leather, the off-shade stitching, matt bamboo wood finish, brushed metal and garnished knobs are all very well put together and dignified. What I like is that it is not loud nor carries any flashiness. Overall look has a balanced retro tone. Next time Lexus may want to think of a more modern look a la Tesla but retain the woodwork & leather stitching.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-281.f3.jpg
Dashboard is blue when in normal mode and red in sports mode. The central display has the usual modes of info, tyre pressure, safety & doors, FE, battery charging, fuel tank levels, distance to empty, music data and what not. Left side big dial doubles up as tachometer or EV indicator (shown).

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-282.f12.jpg
Right side controls for the central displays variations; left side for music, cell phone. Close-up of the steering wheel's bamboo wood, stitched leather and matt finish metal. The steering wheel by itself is a piece of art.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-29.f5.jpg
The centre piece with the AC controls at the bottom, the music knobs in the middle and the analog clock on top. Clock has back light. Looks neat. Copied from Rolls Royce? I am not complaining!

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-30.screen.jpg
Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-31.f11.jpg
The central screen. Needs a mouse to move it around. Inconvenient. Touch screen would have been much preferred. The mouse and its hand grip look classy though.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-32.f14.jpg
Controls for blowing cool air conditioned air through the holes in the back & bottom seat fabric. Excellent feature for our climate. Often luxury cars being sold in India have a 'heating' feature which makes little sense in our climate. Lexus gets a pat for this. Note middle button for raising & lowering the rear window sun screen. If the screen is in the raised position it folds down automatically when you reverse.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-33.f4.jpg
Touch lights on the roof front-centre. To operate -just a gentle tap or moving your finger close enough will do. Nice touch - convenient and safe. You don't need to take your eyes off the road.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-34.f8.jpg
The foot office. Dead pedal & hand brake (though operated by the foot) on the left. The pedal travel and pressure is ergonomically good.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-35.f14.jpg
Right Side ancillary controls. Knee airbag at bottom left. ORVM buttons on top and a mini- storage unit at bottom. ORVM has auto fold-in.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-361-lhs.jpg
Right Stalk with wiper controls. There is a another stalk for cruise control which I have not used hence not covered

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-362-lhs.jpg
Left Stalk with light controls

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-37.driver.jpg
Driver height 177 cms with seat set for driver with height of 186 cms

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-38.reach-rake.jpg
Adjustment of steering for reach and rake-knob on right side.


Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-39.i2-rear-bench.jpg
Seats 3 comfortably; small low central shaft. Sadly no seat recline (unlike Camry). Seats hug you and are firm and comfortable. Lack of recline does not bother my wife and me as at our age we prefer seats that are upright but this feature will be missed by many.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-40.rear-pax.jpg
Passenger with height of 177 cms with seat in front set for passenger with height of 186cms. Valet button or boss button missing to move the front left seat forward to give passenger greater leg space. Relative to our old Superb, apples for apples the ES300h has 1" less leg space at the rear but is still a lot.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-41.i4-back-seat-controls.jpg
Rear Seat controls. Retro looks or something that walked out of a Contessa! This is an out of date design Lexus may want to look into. Mind you the finish & fit is tops. I am referring to the design look.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-42.i3-3way-air-con.jpg
3-zone air conditioning. That nice wooden touch again.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-43.d3-rear-door.jpg
Rear door. Sun shade built in for both pieces of window. Note ash tray & puddle light.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-441-front-office.jpg
Front Office. I like the quiet look and the beige-mocha brown combination. The topaz brown leather is even better but as it does not match with the bamboo wood work we opted for the beige.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-45.i10-seat-controls.jpg
Seat controls. Note lumbar support button (right) and front lever (left) to change the height of the seat.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-46.d1-drivers-door.jpg
Driver's door. 3-way seat memory settings. When you open the door the seat slides back, the steering goes in to allow ease of egress. Nice touch.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-47.i11.jpg
Leather & wood weaved together in Takumi harmony. The stitching on the dark blue leather, like in many other parts of the cabin, is hand stitched to add to the premium feel. The glove compartment below is felt-lined on the inside and has a lock outside.

Is the ES300h a re-badged Camry

This is a statement that is oft repeated. Let's table the facts and each reader can decide for himself or herself. The earlier 5 generations shared a common platform with the Camry. The 6th generation (2012 onwards) shares a common platform with the Avalon (a model not available in India). The safety features, interiors, body work, suspension, noise insulation, music system, in-cabin features and paint work are different and designed for the Lexus's market positioning.

The ES300h shares its hybrid powertrain with a number of models including the Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Lexus NX300h, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, and Toyota Camry Hybrid. This power train is one of Toyota's most reliable and proven designs and with variations and different tuning levels is therefore used in several of their models. In India as the Camry is the only one available some tend to express that "lower model ka engine daal diya hai - cheapo".

In my business we have an office Camry which understandably I have ridden several times. So my comparison of the two cars is based on live experience. The engine tuning, the ride, the NVH, drive smoothness and interiors of the ES300h are a good notch above the Camry.

ES300h versus the competition

Probably something on the minds of some readers given that this is a late entry 'new kid on the block' trying to create space for itself against the three German brands and JLR. I cannot comment or compare with the BMW 5 or Audi 6 as both cars were not in the running though BMW 5 is a better looker than the ES300h.

The E-Class Long Wheelbase {E-LWB} though was evaluated. The E-LWB is a looker with a sense of handsome stateliness. It is a car that tells the world you have arrived. The interiors are more chrome, plush and I dare say bling than the ES300h. The ES300h has superior leather and wood finish. Its wood finish is of a quality I have not seen while riding in a Mercedes S or BMW 7 {I have no riding experience of the Audi 8}. In one of our business units we do VIP interiors for a different asset so I have some idea of leathers, wood work, threading, upholstery etc. In this department the ES300h is on a very sound footing. The interiors are quiet, muted, a little retro and may not be to the tastes of some buyers. In overall opulence and zing factor the interior of the E-class is ahead.

Where driving is concerned each buyer will need to assess this for himself or herself. My assessment is that in city driving both are equally good with the ES300h noticeably quieter. Above 100 kmph the E-LWB is probably more planted and zippy. Where after sales service goes I have no doubt now that Lexus is so far ahead of the Germans/JLR that it does not deserve a comparison.

Nice big touch on service philosophy

The person who sells you the car is your one point of contact for all services for the entire tenure of your ownership. All after sales support is managed by him/her. This I feel is a thoughtful departure from most other OEMs where the front office sells you the product and then you fend for yourself with the service centre engineer & manager. My relationship manager-cum-sales person has been with the dealer for more than a decade so I assume he is not a job hopper. Here Lexus' approach and customer attention reminds me of how Mercedes used to treat its customers in the 1970s and 1980s (I know of this only from hearsay).


At Rs 70 lakhs all told this is an expensive car. After GST changes the price I believe is down by a few lakhs. Despite the respect I have for the Lexus brand I thought and re-thought given the price. As a self-employed with a finite pool of resources my budget was in the Rs 50 to 55L range and that last jump to Rs 70L was a long one mentally. I was sorely tempted to wait another 12 to 18 months for the Volvo S.90 Hybrid which Volvo's management said will be introduced next year. But the sheer responsiveness of the Lexus team from Toyota India's Managing Director and the dealer's Managing Director downwards helped me take the plunge.


The ES300h is a car for those who prize comfort and serenity over a fast and hard driving experience. For rear seat comfort, quietness, soft ride and graceful handling this car is a winner. Priced at Rs 65 +/- lakhs on the road in India it is relative to the Camry Hybrid 60% more car for 100% more price (in India thanks to taxes). For those who want a luxury car experience with a quiet but respected badge this car is for you. For those who want sheer reliability and great customer service over the many years of your ownership then this car is for you. For those who want 'neighbour's envy owners pride' then the first part of the phrase may not work in India.

Parting shot - My older driver, who's been with us 20 years, tells my mother - "iss gaddi mein do engine hain. Mummyji iska matlab hai ki driver ko dugna kaam karna padta hai - double engine double kaam" (This car has two engines. Mummyji that means the driver has to do twice the work - double engine, double work). To each his perspective. Lexus may want to take note.

Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update-48.-end.jpg
This review will be updated at the periodic intervals and major events. Thank you for reading. Finis.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 7th August 2017 at 19:15.
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Old 8th August 2017, 07:43   #3
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

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What a brilliant detailed review! Thanks for sharing. Moving to production
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Old 8th August 2017, 08:34   #4
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

What a fantastic review! Don't know if one should admire your car or your review of the same. Both are a complete class apart from the rest!

Some questions:

1. Why are the vents for ventilating the battery pack inside the passenger cabin? With today's battery technology it should be rare if any battery fumes would enter the passenger compartment, but placing them on the outer side of the door sill would have provided better ventilation. Like in the Nano.

2. ORVM controls on the dash, to the right of the steering: I think the natural position for these controls is on the driver door, towards the front of the armrest. Do you think Toyota/Lexus should swap these with the memory seat buttons?

3. Sun/moon roof: one potential use could be to peep ahead in a traffic jam to get a better idea what's going on. But that's probably not what a Lexus passenger would want to do.
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Old 8th August 2017, 09:14   #5
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Excellent review. Well worth the wait.

As expected, the car looks great and ideal for the class.

Wishing you an excellent ownership experience.

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Old 8th August 2017, 09:35   #6
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Wow! The review is excellent & very detailed. Congrats on your decision & wishing you many happy miles ahead
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Old 8th August 2017, 10:00   #7
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Congrats on your new acquisition! The review is very crisp and detailed. Wish you happy miles head.

I have a query though. How do you control the AC temperature at the rear? Can it be done only through the rear armrest? Or can it be controlled by the driver as well?
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Old 8th August 2017, 10:36   #8
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Congratulations on your new acquisition. I loved the color. Wishing you thousands of safe and happy miles.

What a brilliantly compiled review. Duly rating this thread a thoroughly deserved 5 stars.
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Old 8th August 2017, 10:52   #9
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Congratulations V.Narayan & thanks for sharing this awesome ownership review. Gone straight to the homepage . First a Volvo XC60, now a Lexus ES300h - must say, you have a taste for different cars.

Saw the ES300h in person and it does have presence. If you're looking for a reliable, luxurious, refined & environment-friendly ride, this is quite a car. It'll offer a fuss-free ownership experience that the Germans can only dream about. I keep reading how Etios & Innova owners are happy with the after-sales; Toyota might just roll out the red carpet for Lexus owners! I don't like the ES300h's pricing, weird front-end styling & lack of equipment (vis a vis the Camry) though.

Wish you many years of enjoyable ownership .
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Old 8th August 2017, 11:07   #10
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Excellent review. Do keep updating it from time to time. We have spoken before but just reaffirming this is a great car but let down by the pricing. At 78 lacs on road Mumbai it is just too much. It's a 3-C competitor internationally and here it is more than the 5 and the E. I just wish Toyota wasn't so profit hungry and more volume hungry and price products responsibly so that more of us could buy and enjoy them.
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Old 8th August 2017, 11:15   #11
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
At Rs 70 lakhs all told this is an expensive car. After GST changes the price I believe is down by a few lakhs.
Prices have increased post GST, as was the case with all hybrids. The ex-showroom price increase was around 4.2 lakhs.
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Old 8th August 2017, 11:34   #12
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Heartiest congratulations V.Narayan, You have a truly unique taste in cars.
The pictures are beautiful and the review was an absolute joy to read.
Das Germans could learn a thing or two from Lexus in-terms of ownership experience and reliability.

Wish you a safe and joyful ownership experience.
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Old 8th August 2017, 11:45   #13
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Congratulations Sir on the acquisition of this bad boy. An absolutely fantastic and detailed ownership report. Love the stately looks of the car (with the front end carrying a bit of a contemporary twist).

Lexus had been eyeing the Indian market since 2006 / 2007, and had approached my then employer (a law firm) for advice on the Indian market's legal nitty gritties. Plans were shelved then, but I am glad that they have finally entered the market. Coincidentally, the Lexus showroom in Bangalore is just a few steps from my current workplace. Keep gaping at the shiny new models displayed in the recently opened showroom, whenever I drive past on my way to work

Wish you a superb (pun unintended) ownership stint with the Lexus!

Last edited by arindambasu13 : 8th August 2017 at 11:47.
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Old 8th August 2017, 11:49   #14
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Lovely report.

The first ride I had in a Lexus was about 6 years ago. Probably the older generation of the same model. It was a hybrid. While the car as a whole did not WOW, I was amazed at the engineering brilliance of it. The way the engine+electric motor work was exactly how you described, you noticed the switch only if you payed close attention. It was seamless. The aircon barely made any noise too. It was eerily quiet on the inside. I could hear my stomach growl, which was embarrassing.

Very recently, I was sitting in a friends Camry and noticed that when he hit the Start button, nothing happened. All the dials lit up, aircon was working. He slotted reverse and the car was moving on the electric motor. Slotted to D, light vibration felt from the engine cranking and we were off. No delay or anything. Pulled up to a traffic light, engine shuts down. Lights turn green, lifts off the brake, engine cranks and we're off. I was zapped. The way the engine shut down and restarted was smoother than the annoying Start Stop system in a 530D.

I can't speak for other parts of the country. The Lexus brand is well known and popular in South India. A high end Toyota or a Lexus is the preferred ride for that successful businessman who just returned from the middle east. Mercedes? Naah. I'll take the Lexus. It is an almost eyes closed purchase. A lot has to do with the car and most important, the experience at the dealer, as you have experienced. It is as personal as it can get. Heck; you don't get this sort of treatment even at a Porsche dealer.

Back in 98', I wrote a letter to Aiwa (Hi Fi company) in Japan requesting for a brochure for their latest audio equipment. I was not going to buy an Aiwa nor were Aiwa officially selling in India at the time. I had a hobby collecting audio equipment brochures. A little over a month later, I get a mail that contained their latest brochure with a hand signed "With Compliments" card from some Japanese dude in charge of marketing. Why did that man take so much effort in sending me a brochure? That's the Japanese way.

Lexus in India may or may not sell as many as the big three Germans. They will sell in limited numbers, will carve out a niche customer base and this will slowly and steadily grow. I am sure that this is all the parent company Toyota really want.

Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
Why are the vents for ventilating the battery pack inside the passenger cabin?
To draw cooled conditioned air from the passenger cabin for cooling the battery pack.

Last edited by sandeepmohan : 8th August 2017 at 11:57.
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Old 8th August 2017, 11:53   #15
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Default re: Lexus ES300h - Owner's Review. EDIT: 4-years, 48,000 kms update

Lovely car, lovely brand, lovely place and an equally lovely write-up V.Narayan sir! Rating it a full 5 star!

With such brilliantly done reviews, it also gives us a chance to get into the nitty-gritties of such exclusive beauties which otherwise will always stay out of reach for someone as me. Lexus, which initially was a brand exclusive to the US market, its feels really good Toyota making it here and class of the people as you buying it right in our surroundings.

Wish you miles and miles of motoring with smiles.

PS: The most interesting thing, handbrake is down in feet(extreme left). Is it still referred as handbrake? or may be just "parking brake".


Last edited by Nohonking : 8th August 2017 at 12:09. Reason: punctuation check
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