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World Scoop: Botox for Lexus ES300

Scalpel: Only minor changes are designed to bring the ES300 up to date.

A mid-term nose and tail lift might also boost sales of the mid-sized ES300

19 May 2004

LEXUS is preparing to present a facelifted ES300 sedan in June.

Captured in downtown Melbourne during a film shoot, the mid-cycle makeover for the current Camry-based ES300 is mostly confined to the nose and tail.

A rounder bumper with a revised air intake, more detailed grille, new headlight innards and possibly more bulbous bonnet and mudguards are the most obvious changes up front.

Redesigned tail-lights, a fuller rear bumper, new look (and larger) alloy wheels and a refreshed colour palette seem to be the extent of the alterations outside, while minor trim adjustments are expected inside. Lexus has also become far more liberal with its use of chrome trim, most visible here around the grille and number plate valance.

An appreciable leap in technology is also anticipated, with a mysterious square cut-out in the front bumper indicating the implementation of advanced radar devices for parking and cruise control applications.

But this may be limited to overseas models, as the car photographed was destined for American media consumption. In fact, the US is by far the ES300’s largest market.

Today’s MCV30R ES300, released in October 2001, may be the third generation Lexus to be based on the front-wheel drive Camry platform, but differs significantly from the Aussie Camry with its bespoke body, cabin, drivetrain and suspension.

The original VCV10R of June 1992 was only the second Lexus here after the LS400, and that was replaced in October 1996 by the MCV20R edition.

Lexus is looking for a lift in ES300 sales. To the end of April 101 units were shifted compared to 178 for the same time last year. In 2003 496 were sold, 219 fewer than 2002’s 715 tally.

The next all-new Lexus will be the third generation GS, the six-and-a-half year-old, rear-wheel drive, BMW 5 Series-rivalling sedan due out in the first quarter of next year.

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