Lexus has revealed its all-new ES sedan in New York, and despite being written off earlier this week, we could see the midsized sedan make a return to the Australian market.
Speaking with TMR earlier this week, Lexus Australia CEO Tony Cramb said that while its specifications and size would make for a good fit locally, the lack of a right-hand-drive offering would keep the ES from our shores.
Now, the unveiling of the new ES suggests that the right hand could benefit from a chat with the left, thanks to confirmation that a right-hook version will enter production next year.
While there may be other obstacles in bringing the new ES here - such as availability, pricing and the potential for diluting the appeal of the new GS range - which side the driver sits on is no longer an issue.
Although the luxury car's front-wheel-drive layout makes it unique in the Lexus sedan range, lower production costs have allowed Lexus to position the ES as a more affordable companion to the similarly-sized GS.
That move has made the ES a regular top-seller for the brand, and Lexus VP Mark Templin is confident the new model will take on the best in the prestige market.
"This is no longer just an entry luxury car. This ES is so good, it can go toe-to-toe with cars in more expensive segments, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. That’s how confident we are in this car," Templin said at the unveiling of the new ES.
"It’s the same length and width, and has more interior space than the E Class. They both have 3.5 litre engines, yet the ES will cost thousands less."
As with the new GS, the 2013 ES gets the taller new Lexus 'spindle' grille design, LED-equipped headlights, a flowing roofline and massively reworked interior design.
In North America, the new ES will be offered in two specifications: the 3.5 litre V6-powered ES 350 and, for the first time, the hybrid-driven ES 300h.
Power and performance figures for the Dual VVT-i 3.5 litre V6 have not been revealed, although we could expect to see Toyota's 202kW/340Nm engine driving the ES.
The ES 300h will pair an Atkinson-cycle 2.5 litre I4 with an electric motor, shared with the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Lexus says it will achieve 5.8 l/100km on the combined cycle.
As for the possibility of an Australian return?
"I still think there's a place for the ES in the Australian market," Lexus Australia CEO Tony Cramb told TMR this week.
TMR will deliver an update on the new ES' local potential after the Easter break.
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