The 2022 Lexus ES facelift has arrived in Malaysia. First unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2021 in April this year, the premium sedan gets a light touch-up in the looks department, enhanced comfort, improved safety and a new F Sport variant. This is the first time the ES is available here in F Sport trim.

The 2022 Lexus ES range starts with the Premium at RM295,663. The ES 250 Luxury goes for RM329,910, while the F Sport you see here goes for RM345,134. Prices are on-the-road excluding insurance, but with the 50% sales tax exemption for CBU imported cars, valid till the end of this year. Lots to unpack, so let’s start.

The ES is, along with the flagship LS, is the most long-standing Lexus nameplate, having been one of the two models that were launched together with the brand in 1989. It is also Lexus’ best selling model, with over 2.65 million units sold in some 80 countries so far. Even in the age of the SUV, the ES remains a core model for the brand.

The current seventh-generation sedan was launched here in September 2019, sporting the boldest looks yet for the ES. The “Provocative Elegance” design is significantly more emotional and dynamic than the car it replaced, and Lexus says that this “junior LS” body contains a more spacious and refined cabin, with class-leading rear legroom. Compared to the previous-generation ES, this one is 66 mm longer and 46 mm wider, with a 51 mm longer wheelbase. The bigger footprint and five mm lower height contributes to a sleek shape.

Making all this possible is a wider and longer chassis – the Global Architecture K (GA-K) is essentially Lexus’ version of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that also underpins the current XV70 Toyota Camry.

Nothing is broke with this smooth design, so the changes for model year 2022 are limited to details. There’s a new insert for the spindle grille, an ensemble of L-shaped components that “emphasise lateral flow”. It looks more intricate than the simple downward flowing lines of the pre-facelift.

That’s the standard grille for the Premium and Luxury. The F Sport gets its own mesh pattern of interlocking L elements with a dark metallic finish. That same pattern is repeated on the side cut-outs, which are larger than on the standard bumper. No chrome strip here, too.

There are also subtle changes to the headlamps. On the ES 250 Premium, the bi-LED projector units have a new inner bezel design, while the compact three-beam LED projector headlamps of the ES 250 Luxury and F Sport have a new LED daytime running light design. As is usually the case for Lexus, the ES has a very sharp, piercing gaze.

There are two new colours joining the ES palette, and they are Sonic Iridium and Sonic Chrome, which are like shades of grey (the latter is darker). Sonic Quartz, Sonic Titanium, Graphite Black Glass Flake, Red Mica Crystal Shine, Ice Ecru Mica Metallic and Deep Blue Mica complete the eight-colour menu.

The F Sport can be had in two exclusive colours – Heat Blue Contrast Layering or White Nova Glass Flake as seen here – in addition to all of the standard choices, except for Ice Ecru Mica Metallic and Deep Blue Mica.

The sporty variant also gets a rear spoiler, darker rear light housing, F Sport badges on the front fenders and 19-inch alloys (235/40 tyres) in Dark Premium Metallic. Black, basically. The Premium and Luxury continue to roll on 18-inch wheels (235/45 tyres) – the former gets a new multi-spoke design in Dark Grey Metallic, while the latter has “noise reduction” turbine-style rims in Hyper Chrome Metallic.

Good news for those who want something other than an all-black cabin (still available, don’t worry), because the ES is now offered with Hazel upholstery (tan brown) with Walnut Brown wood trim. The Luxury trim adds on another shade of medium brown called Mauve, paired with Walnut Black trim. The F Sport gets the searing Flare Red-black theme you see here, matched with aluminium trim. Too much for you? As always, all-black is an option (no browns for F Sport).

This Flame Red-black interior theme is exclusive to the F Sport, but all-black is also available

Lexus has improved on the infotainment system, with ease of use being the main goal. No full-on Tazuna concept for the ES, but the full colour 12.3-inch display is now a touchscreen (Luxury and F Sport, 8.0-inch for Premium, no change in size), and to welcome fingers, it’s now 112 mm closer to the occupants and angled five degrees towards the driver.

The system – which has navigation for the Luxury and F Sport – can also be controlled with the Remote Touch Pad next to the gear lever. All USB ports on the ES are now of the Type C variety, which is in line with the latest devices.

There are more unique items for the F Sport. The package includes sports seats; a steering wheel with perforated leather instead of wood trim, red stitching and F Sport logo; a matching shift knob with dimpled leather (red stitching on the boot); plus aluminium pedals. The analogue clock next to the touchscreen has a different dial too – looks like carbon print for afar, but it’s actually L-shaped graphics.

L-R: The F Sport’s main dial slides from middle to right; the standard fixed combo meter

The F Sport’s party piece though is the movable meter. First used in the LFA supercar, the sliding main dial has featured in F Sport variants of mainline models for some time now. Basically, it’s a physical ring that can be shifted from the centre to the right, making way for more info on the left. There’s a page that tracks G-force – yup, G-force in a Lexus ES.

Inside the ring is a digital main dial that changes graphics according to drive mode. Speaking of that, it’s a Lexus quirk to have the drive mode dial on the side of the instrument binnacle, like ears. Non-F Sport cars get a meter panel that’s a combination of digital and physical fuel and temp gauges.

What’s unchanged is under the hood, The Lexus ES 250 is powered by a 2.5 litre Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine, making 204 hp at 6,600 rpm and 247 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. The direct-injection A25A-FKS naturally aspirated unit is paired to a Direct Shift conventional eight-speed automatic transmission sending drive to the front wheels. Steering shift paddles are standard.

The Premium and Luxury get wood trim and two new brown leather options, in addition to black

Lexus says that the transmission uses an ultra-thin torque converter and a multi-plate lock up clutch, giving the direct feel of a dual-clutch system with the smoothness of a traditional torque converter automatic. Direct Connected Downshift allows the gearbox to skip gears when big throttle inputs are detected. The 0-100 km/h sprint is completed in 9.1 seconds on the way to a 210 km/h top speed. Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes are available.

The ES suspension consists of front MacPherson struts and rear double wishbones. While this is unchanged, Lexus says that ride comfort and handling have been improved by increasing rigidity in the rear – they added a brace for this. The Luxury and F Sport get what Lexus calls performance dampers – these “absorb even the smallest instances of frame compression and/or flex” to cut out any resonance that might generate noise.

Standard across the ES range is Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+), and the latest version of the suite sees Pre-Collision System (PCS or AEB) get enhanced daytime cyclist detection by both the millimetre-wave radar and monocular camera sensor. Pedestrian identification in certain low-light situations have also been improved by increasing the camera’s sensitivity and dynamic range.

The F Sport (left) gets 19-inch black wheels, a mesh design grille and boot spoiler

The other LSS+ elements are Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) with Stop & Go Function; Lane Keeping Assist; Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Lane Departure Alert (LDA); and Adaptive High-beam System (AHS). AHS now has BladeScan tech, which uses LED-sourced light that shines onto blade mirrors spinning at high speed, which is then transferred to a lens to illuminate the road ahead.

A residual image effect prevents the light from appearing to be moving, while BladeScan precisely controls light distribution by synchronising the rotation of the blade mirrors and switching the LED lights on and off. It sounds terribly complicated, but basically, this is for more intelligent shielding of light (for oncoming cars) while broadening the range of the high beam compared to the regular AHS.

Another light tech is the new Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), which computes vehicle speed and steering input to direct low beam in the direction of travel. Useful in winding roads and urban driving, it lights the path “well in advance” to improve driving confidence. The ES also features Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Parking Support Brake (PKSB). The latter is like Perodua’s Pedal Misoperation Control.

Other new and standard additions are the Nanoe-X negative ion generator and an inclination sensor, which will sound a siren when the car is tilted, such as when being towed away.

Here’s a spec breakdown for the rest of the kit. The entry RM295,663 Premium gets bi-LED headlamps with auto high beam, LED DRLs with cornering lamps, keyless entry with push start (with smart card key), moonroof, auto wipers, electronic parking brake with auto hold, auto fold/memory/reverse-linked wing mirrors, auto steering adjustment, dual-zone auto AC with pollen filter and Nanoe-X, electro-chromic rear view mirror, automatic rear screen sunshade and a Pioneer 10-speaker audio system.

In the seating department, the Premium comes with eight-way ventilated and powered front seats (memory for driver), and the upholstery is NuLuxe synthetic leather. Ten airbags and LSS+ are standard, minus the AHS high beam.

The display is now a touchscreen; ventilated seats are standard; only Luxury gets a rear seat control panel

The RM329,910 Luxury adds on a fair bit for about RM35k extra. The list includes performance dampers, noise-reducing wheels, ultra compact three-beam LED projector headlamps with washer, AFS and AHS, sequential LED turn signals, powered boot with kick function, three-zone AC, ambient lighting, rear window shades (manual), 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, head-up display, panoramic view monitor and a Qi wireless charger.

As for seats, the Luxury’s main throne comes with 10-way adjustment, four-way lumbar adjustment (from two), cushion length adjustment, and front passenger seat memory. The seats come with heating, and the rear seat backrests have power recline. There’s also a control panel in the fold down armrest for seat, audio and AC functions. The upholstery here is semi-aniline leather.

The RM345,134 F Sport has all the above-mentioned trim-exclusive equipment, but also loses some comfort kit from the Luxury such as the three-zone AC (back to two), extra driver’s seat adjustment (back to eight-way), driver’s cushion length adjustment, front passenger seat memory, seat heating, rear seat recline, rear seat control panel, rear window shades and ambient lighting. The sporty one is around RM15k costlier than the luxurious option.

By the way, prices for the Premium and Luxury are a few thousand ringgit cheaper than when the pre-facelift was launched here in 2019, despite the enhancements, so this handsome sedan is also a good deal. The latest Lexus ES 250 will be available in showrooms from October 31, and order books are open today. What do you think of the latest ES and the F Sport?

GALLERY: 2022 Lexus ES 250 F Sport

GALLERY: 2022 Lexus ES 250 Luxury