The new-look 2016 Lexus ES luxury sedan has been unveiled at the Shanghai auto show, bringing the brand's aggressive styling language to what is arguably the Japanese brand's most conservative model.
The revamped Lexus ES is said to feature "an elegant and progressive styling package" that is "daring", as well as "enhanced luxury interior construction" in a cabin that "exudes luxury".
The exterior changes include a bold spindle grille, new headlights with LED projectors and L-shaped daytime running lights that sit below the main light cluster, similar to the treatment seen on the IS model. The front fog-lights have been redesigned to sit further out, visually pushing the body of the car outwards and downwards to the road.
The rear sees a new tail-light design with a continuation of the L-shape light theme, while the chrome garnish between the light assemblies and the lower bumper has been redesigned with a sleek new splitter.
Lexus has stated there will be two new 17-inch wheel designs - a dark grey 20-spoke rim for the petrol model and a 10-spoke design for the hybrid version. The petrol Sports Luxury model will also be offered with a panoramic glass roof - a Lexus Australia first.
The brand has confirmed new colours will be offered, but hasn't confirmed what they'll be - though all ES models get Lexus' "self-restoring coat which allows the paint's clear coat to heal itself, even from minor damage".
Lexus claims that its engineers have focused on improving the handling of the ES, taking a leaf from the book of the IS. Extra structural reinforcement has been added, while more sound-deadening has been added behind the dashboard, according to the brand.
No engine changes will be seen in Australia despite a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine being developed for the car for China. The existing 3.5-litre V6 and 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid models will remain the local options.
Inside, the ES great a new steering wheel that has been designed to improve the driver's view of the instrument cluster.
There's a new speedometer dial, as well as a larger 4.2-inch TFT colour multifunction screen between the dials. That screen can show the driver at-a-glance vehicle info, media details as well as route criteria.
There are four seat colours to choose - Topaz Brown, Ivory, Moonstone and Black - and the Sports Luxury models feature leather-accented trim standard. Along with colour options, there are three interior styles to option: Piano Black, new matte-finish Bamboo and "Shimamoku ornamentation".
According to the Japanese maker: "Shimamoku, which first appeared on GS and LS sedans, is a high-end finish of luxurious wood created through a multi-step manufacturing process carried out by skilled craftsmen".
Lexus is also debuting its Safety System+ on the ES, including a radar-based pre-collision braking system, a camera-based lane departure warning system, automatic high-beam headlights, and radar cruise control. The latter system works in tandem with the lane departure system to detect other cars "for smooth acceleration and deceleration control".
Lexus ES chief engineer Toshio Asahi suggested the notion behind improving the ES was to lift the levels of luxury and refinement on offer.
"The new ES builds efficiently on what has made it one of the most popular luxury sedans in the world, and we are confident that this latest version of the ES will build upon its past successes," Asahi said.
"Our development concept was 'take the ES to the next level of elegance and progressive luxury'," he said.
Stay tuned for local pricing and specifications for the 2016 Lexus ES, which will launch in Australia in the second half of 2015. The current model is priced from $63,400 plus on-road costs for the hybrid model, and from $64,900 plus on-road costs for the V6 petrol.