Just like old times
Well, you asked for it — that’s why the mild-mannered ES is back
TOYOTA’S luxury brand is bringing back its most Toyota-like car. The Lexus ES, which shares its underpinnings with the front-wheel-drive Toyota Avalon available in the US, returns late this year seven years after it was dropped. Lexus Australia is in talks over cost and specification, which will determine if both petrol and hybrid versions make it.
The ES design closely resembles the GS’s but Lexus says its return is based on appeal to a separate set of customers. It is priced in the $70,000 range between the IS and GS.
Lexus ES chief engineer Toshio Asahi says the new vehicle has been developed from scratch, with some attention paid to the dynamics.
‘‘ I drove all of the previous generations to gain an understanding of its strengths and weaknesses,’’ he says.
‘‘ Immediately I determined space, refinement and comfort were the priority, but I also knew dynamic performance needed some attention.’’ Asahi says the new ES platform is longer, wider, lower and more rigid to deliver ‘‘ a driving experience unlike any vehicle before it, while maintaining those hallmark comfort, space and refinement characteristics’’.
The front-drive layout gives the ES more rear legroom than the sportier rear-drive GS, plus a larger boot and more relaxed road manners. It shares its petrol V6 and six-speed automatic transmission with the RX350 SUV, so peak outputs are likely to be 204kW at 6200rpm and 346Nm at 4700rpm. US figures suggest a thirst of about 9.8L/100km.
The hybrid model, with peak petrol-electric output of 220kW, weighs about 60kg more, uses about 5.9L/100km and has 340L of boot capacity.
The ES is the brand’s second most popular model globally. Almost 7000 ES 300s sold here from 1992.
‘‘ Today we still have many loyal ES owners who refuse to purchase anything other than an ES and the great news is they won’t have to wait much longer,’’ Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley says.