Lexus would be likely to argue that the ES’s biggest draw card is the fact that it’s only available as a hybrid here in the UK, coming in the form of the ES 300h. It’s based on the same TNGA GA-K architecture as the latest Toyota RAV4 and Camry (whose short-lived tenure as a UK car is now over), meaning there’s a 2.5-litre four-pot up front and it is supplemented by an electric motor for a combined output of 215bhp.
Lexus gave the car a design update in 2022, adding new headlights, some new driver assistance systems and an updated infotainment system. Some suspension revisions were intended to bring greater rigidity to the car’s chassis, and feel to its steering, too.
Around town is where the Lexus is most in its element. Here, its hybrid powertrain is at its smoothest, while the ability to run for brief periods on electricity alone means it achieves decent fuel economy as well.
Does it hold a candle to the likes of BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes in terms of outright desirability or dynamic appeal? Not really. Not even in F Sport trim, which is best avoided. While the ES is comparably comfortable and impressively solid-feeling, it lacks the usability of its German rivals, and its infotainment system is borderline infuriating to operate at times.
Being front driven, the car also lacks the natural rear-drive balance of the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF, and its powertrain doesn’t respond keenly to being worked hard.
9. DS 9
The big, luxurious French limousine returns in the shape of the DS 9, the Stellantis group’s latest bid to force its way in among Germany’s premium-brand elite. Sort of.
In fact, being based on the same model platform that underpins the Peugeot 508, this car isn’t as big as it might be – at least in some respects. Second-row leg room is fairly generous, but for cabin width and boot space, the DS 9 is a little way off mid-sized executive class standards.
The car leads with the material richness and artful flourish of its cabin, to accompany the glitzy flash of its exterior chrome. It was launched in 2021 with a choice of conventional petrol and plug-in hybrid power, but is now only offered as a PHEV. The E-Tense 250 model is the more affordable front-wheel-drive version and the E-Tense 4×4 360 is the twin-motor, four-wheel-drive range-topper, with its 5.6sec 0-62mph sprinting and 39 miles of electric range.