1 Jun 1992
THE second Lexus sold in Australia wasn’t really up to the marque’s reputation for “the relentless pursuit of perfection”, as it was a rebodied front-wheel drive Camry Mk3 sold elsewhere as a Toyota.
Some cynics suggested that the ES was nothing more than Lexus leveraging its newfound brand kudos for less-wealthy Americans to spend more than they need to on a tizzied-up Camry.
Powered by a 138kW/246Nm 3.0-litre quad-cam V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox, the ES was aimed at the sort of buyers who might have bought a Toyota Cressida.
Though swift, smooth and quiet, the soft suspension settings and overly light powered steering proved to be the ES 300’s undoing against the similarly priced yet dynamically far-more accomplished European rivals. And it was very tight in the back.
And the pillarless four-door hardtop body, though sharing no Camry commonality, was still unmistakably old-school Toyota prestige.
But the quality was high, the ride comfortable and the features list long (including dual airbags from ’93, anti-lock brakes, climate control air-conditioning, alarm, cruise control, leather trim and powered front seats), so the ES etched a small niche for itself.