2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review: Extra Smooth, Fairly Sport

Derryn Wong
2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review - Singapore -

Does the F Sport treatment go with the refined ES experience – or does it create a weird monster? Our review of the facelift Lexus ES 250 F Sport in Singapore tells all

SINGAPORE – The Lexus ES has long been known as one of the most refined cars around, so what the heck is the F Sport treatment doing on it? Is the result like pineapple on pizza – or is smooth like a pina colada? 

The ES has received its mid-life facelift with the updated model debuting in Singapore very recently. The typical three-year lifecycle tweaks have been added with a subtly redesigned front end with tiny changes to the lights and grille, apparently. Having looked back and forth between the new and old model, we almost can’t tell the difference. 

Maybe you’ll have better luck below. Clue: The grille design is slightly different. 

But the car we test here does have big, visible differences. In fact it’s the most major change from the pre-facelift model, and it’s the fact that the F Sport trim line is available on the large luxury sedan for the very first time. It’s only available on the ES 250 gasoline model (also available as Exec or Luxury), not the ES 300h, which only has the base Exec and higher-spec Luxury trim. 

Styling and Appearance 

2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review - Singapore -

Audi has RS, BMW has M, Mercedes-AMG has AMG, and Lexus has F.

For the past decade or so, Lexus has ‘F-ed’ itself with very productive results. Besides the obvious LFA supercar, there have also been driver-focused gems like the RC F, the LC Convertible, and more recently, the updated very-sporty-driving IS sedan. The IS was also where we first saw the F Sport treatment appear

But does grafting the F Sport treatment onto the most classical of Lexuses, the ES, work?

If this was done to the previous gen ES, then it would be lipstick on a guppy, because that’s what the relatively anonymous old ES looked like. But 2018 saw a total revamp for the car, making it look just like the LS luxury limo, all flowing lines and aggressive angles. 

2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review - Singapore -

And the F Sport treatment matches that, and doesn’t look out of place at all. It’s amazing what paint and wheels do to a car, because the ES 250 F Sport has a very different character from the Executive and Luxury variants. The Heat Blue paint is an F Sport exclusive, likewise the darkened ‘mesh’ style front grille, as are the larger 19-inch dark alloy wheels, plus there’s a bootlid spoiler.

2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review - Singapore -

Interior and Equipment

2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review - Singapore - 
Interior cabin

The outside is easy to accept, but we admit to being a little shocked at such a visually loud interior on an ES : The front sport seats in red and black aren’t exactly subtle. There’s more red through the cabin, but also black perf leather and red stitching on the wheel/gearshifter.

There’s also the F Sport meter – it’s a circular display (inspired by the LFA, though the tach needle doesn’t go quite as far) that can be shifted to the centre at the touch of a button. It’s still a snazzy-looking piece of tech, and one that’s more impressive than a straight-up flatscreen display.

2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review - Singapore - 
Interior cabin

To the left, the ES’ 10.3-inch display has now become a touchscreen, and Lexus has moved the screen ‘more than 100mm’ closer to you so it’s easier to use. Great touch, since there’s nothing worse than a touchscreen you have to grasp for (Audi A4 I’m lookin at you). You can still control everything through the Lexus Remote Touch touchpad. It’s not the snazziest-looking infotainment system, but it is very easy to use.

2021 Lexus ES 250 F Sport review - Singapore - 
Interior cabin touchscreen
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatability comes with the touchscreen

The cabin is still filled with buttons that are labelled so you’ll never wonder how to do anything, and you’ll also never have to compete in the modern sport of menu-diving. Lexus has also resisted the urge to splash colourful lights throughout the cabin, so the feeling is much more of a business class lounge or bar, rather than a screen-filled discotheque like some luxury cars. The ES is spacious enough to be a chauffeur driven car, and F Sport trim doesn’t change that with lots of legroom, a sunroof, and a rear windscreen sunshade adding to the ambience.

Corollary to that while the Lexus feels old school – it’s a 180 from Audi’s buttonless super-clean cabins for example – there’s no less a sense of luxury from it. While there may be some less-than-stellar plastics (eg air con vents) everything else is executed to a very high standard. Not a stitch out of place really does apply here. 

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Continue to page 2: What does F Sport add to the ES driving experience?

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4-door 5 seat ES ES 250 F Sport Lexus petrol sedan

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment.

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