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Mid-life update brings changes for Lexus ES

Traditional values: The Lexus ES appeals to the company’s traditional core buyer base, according to Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley.

Lexus seeks to maintain its appeal to traditional customers with refreshed ES

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Lexus logo24 Sep 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

LEXUS’ refreshed sixth-generation ES mid-sizer has arrived in Australian showrooms, bringing new safety tech, updated exterior styling, new cabin materials and a range-wide price increase.

The current ES launched in Australia in late 2013 and at the time, Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said the car-maker would target its traditional base with the big sedan, as well private hire-car companies.

Since its launch, Lexus has sold 1136 examples of the ES, with sales down by 39 per cent so far this year to 282 units.

Mr Hanley said Lexus did not have lofty sales targets when it launched the ES in 2013, and added that it was a car that appeals to Lexus loyalists.

“Our traditional buyers are important to us,” he told GoAuto at the ES reveal in Brisbane. “We will never deploy a strategy – be it product or marketing – that would alienate the people that put us where we are today.

“They are the 53 per cent that come back year after year to Lexus. They are deeply important to us.

“I don’t make any excuses for ES’s sales volume. ES was never going to be a big sales volume for Lexus. It was brought in to satisfy a very traditional loyal group of Lexus buyers and they are now coming back to buy this car and they love it.”

Mr Hanley also said at the 2013 launch that he hoped the ES would help lift Lexus hybrid sales in Australia from an average of 30 per cent of any given Lexus model’s overall sales to 50 per cent.

He told GoAuto this week that Lexus looks set to exceed this target, thanks in part to the appeal of the ES to private hire-car customers.

“In 2016 I am expecting ES300h to be 60 per cent of the sales. Admittedly ES is smaller volume. The reason is the hybrid powertrain offers sensational fuel economy and it’s affordable. It’s practical. You fill it up and you drive it.

“The second thing is, the hybrid ES is getting strong take-up from private hire-car companies. Whilst it’s not overwhelmingly a great percentage now, every other week we are getting further inquiries, so as these cars are seen under private hire-car plated cars, other operators are seeing them, they have a look and we are seeing a greater take-up and demand.”

Lexus offers the ES in petrol-electric hybrid 300h guise that matches a 118kW/213Nm 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a 105kW hybrid system that features an electric generator and a nickel-metal hydride battery, matched with a continuously variable transmission for a combined output of 151kW.

This version can dash from standstill to 100km/h in 8.5 seconds and sips 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres of fuel on the combined cycle.

The ES350 continues to employ Lexus’ ubiquitous 304kW/346Nm 3.5-litre V6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission offering a combined fuel economy figure of 9.5L/100km and a 0-100km/h-sprint time of 7.4 seconds.

Prices are up by $2000 for the base ES300h Luxury, which now kicks off the range at $62,500 plus on-road costs, while the Sports Luxury hybrid has risen by $1000 to $70,500.

The ES350 Luxury is up by $1527 to $63,500 and the Sports Luxury has increased by $890 to $71,500.

The updated ES marks the debut of the Lexus Safety System+ that brings in a number of active safety features or packages under the one umbrella, including the Pre-Collision Safety System, a lane-departure warning, auto high-beam and adaptive cruise control.

Also new to the ES range are new 10- and 20-spoke alloy wheel designs, a panoramic glass roof (optional on ES350 Sports Luxury), while inside it gains a new three-spoke steering wheel, luxurious Shimamoku wood finish, new seat quilting, new controls and three new trim colors with contrasting stitching.

This is on top of the refreshed styling that brings a bolder version of the familiar ‘spindle’ grille, a revised grille surround, new headlights, restyled front bumper, the addition of a bootlid garnish that is integrated into the new tail-lights that feature an L-shaped theme.

Lexus says the changes to the exterior design bring the ES into line with its NX crossover and RC coupe stablemates.

Under the skin very little has changed, however Lexus says it has added a sound-reducing dash layer from improved cabin acoustics, while a more rigid body structure makes for enhanced ride quality and handling.

Starting with the ES300h and ES350 Luxury, standard gear includes a reversing camera, embossed leather-accented trim, DAB+ digital radio, a blind-spot monitor, driver’s seat memory, a moon roof, satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers, auto-levelling headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The ES300h and ES350 Sports Luxury adds tri-zone air conditioning with humidity sensor, semi-aniline leather accented trim, heated rear seats, full LED headlights, a Mark Levinson premium audio system, a passenger-seat memory function, rear side sunblinds and power bootlid.

Four new body colours are on offer in the ES range, including Sonic White, Graphite Black, Deep Metallic Bronze and Deep Blue.

2015 Lexus ES pricing*
300h Luxury$62,500
300h Sports Luxury$70,500
350 Luxury$63,500
350 Sports Luxury$71,500
*Excludes on-road costs

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