A new prototype, draped in the usual camouflage but unmistakable in identity, has been spied testing in the US this week. These photos are very likely our first look at the next-generation 2018 Lexus ES in its final body.
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Clearly inspired by the big new LS limo unveiled in Detroit earlier this year, the new ES will wear the same expansive 'spindle' grille that has famously polarised punters for years now.

Hooked headlights are set back from each corner of the face, and a clean coupe-like profile reaches from the long snout to a short rear deck. A compact glasshouse feature for a more athletic look, and the guards at both ends have been given a flared look for the same intent.

Despite those flared arches, the new Lexus ES is expected to be built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that underpins the Prius and is expected to feature beneath a number of new-generation Toyota models - and likely the long overdue CT hatch replacement.

Buyers can expect the ES to continue with the front-wheel-drive layout utilised by the current model, rather than joining the IS, GS and LS in the rear-wheel-drive squad. An all-wheel-drive model may also appear.

Reports in recent months have suggested the GS could be binned in the near future, making the ES the Japanese luxury brand's only offering in the large sedan segment. The LS is considered an upper-large car in the Australian market.

The presence of Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 models in these shots, as benchmark prototyping cars, could be a further hint as to the new ES sedan's role as a replacement for the GS. If that's the case, the ES would likely be given a more upmarket cabin and technology suite to compete with its rivals.

Retiring the GS would also bring an end to the short-lived GS F performance line, and an ES F is... likely not on the company's agenda.

Watch for more on the new ES to surface in the coming months, with a global debut likely to occur before the end of the year - although a Detroit debut in January could also be on the cards.

Click through to the photo gallery for more photos of the new ES.