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New York show: Toyota teases new sedans

Sneak peek: Lexus has teased the front end of its next-generation ES sedan ahead of its New York public debut next week.

Lexus ES and Toyota ‘Avalon’ large sedan set for Big Apple show reveal

Lexus logo29 Mar 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

TOYOTA Motor Corporation is set to pull the veil of secrecy from not one but two large-ish sedans at the New York motor show next week.

The company has released teaser images of its new Camry-based ES Lexus sedan and a mystery Toyota-badged large sedan that most pundits are predicting will be the 2013 Avalon – also based on the Camry platform – due later this year.

Although both models were once sold in Australia, only one is a chance of landing back in local showrooms any time soon – the Lexus ES – provided it resumes production in right-hand drive.

Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb told GoAuto in 2010 that it was talking with Lexus about resuming ES sales in Australia with the next generation to fill the gap between the IS and GS.

The front-drive ES was tried in Australia between 1992 – when it was the entry level model in the luxury range – and 2008 when it was discontinued when the right-hand drive configuration was dropped from production in Japan with the demise of the Japanese version, the Toyota Windom.

The ES300 – powered by a 3.0-litre V6 – was commonly regarded in Australia as a Camry with the bow tie, and largely lacked the cache of the purpose-built Lexus models.

31 center imageLeft: Toyota large sedan teaser. Below: Current US-spec Toyota Avalon, current Aurion and the NS4 concept.

However, the renewed interest in the ES is due to greater effort by TMC to differentiate the ES from its donor car, with unique sheet metal and different engines, including a rumoured V6 hybrid powertrain in a model expected to be called ES300h.

The standard vehicle is expected to again run the 3.5-litre V6, although the Chinese-made version might again carry a four-cylinder engine for fuel-economy purposes.

The Lexus teaser image of the ES out today shows the same new “spindle grille” front design as the larger GS sedan that is set to be launched in Australia next week.

This signature design will spread across most Lexus models, as evidenced by the Lexus LF-LC concept that appeared at the Detroit motor show early this year.

All mechanical specifications have been held back until the New York gala opens on Wednesday, although Lexus promises American motorists “a new dynamic driving experience”.

The latter comment fits with Toyota president Akio Toyoda’s drive to put more fun into the Lexus range, starting with the rear/AWD-drive GS range that he personally oversaw in its development phase.

The Toyota sedan that will also make its debut at New York has been shown only in a rendering of the rear end, revealing a rakish, coupe-like rear roof line, twin exhausts and stylised sports wheels.

The accompanying press release said the all-new sedan was designed in the US. Presumably, this presumably means at Toyota’s Calty design studio in California.

“The sedan's exciting new design features an elegant yet athletic look,” the company says.

The US media is speculating that the car is the new American 2013 Avalon large car, due for release in the second half of this year.

Toyota Australia manager public relations Mike Breen said Toyota Australia was still in the dark about the New York car.

“There is talk that it could be the next generation Avalon or something like that, but if that is the case, then it wouldn’t be for us,” he said.

“Until they reveal it next week in its entirety and we get a bit more information, we don’t have any more information than you do.”

Toyota insiders have not ruled out the possibility that the car could be a design study for a large sedan further out – perhaps four or five years away – in a similar fashion to the NS4 mid-sized hybrid concept that provided a hint of the design direction of the 2015 Camry when it was shown in January at the Detroit motor show.

Once thing is for certain – it is not related to the new Toyota Aurion that will go on sale in Australia next month.

That Australian-built car is based on the premium Camry – known in some markets as the Camry Grande – and is only vaguely related to the Avalon.

With the Aurion is powered by a V6 engine like the Avalon and has some Camry underpinnings, the American car has a stretch wheelbase and totally fresh skin.

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