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2020 Lexus ES F Sport red rear end Feisty-looking Lexus ES 300h F Sport coming to Australia

The range of Lexus ES hybrid sedans offered in Australia will be expanded in October with the addition of a sporty-looking F Sport grade, rounding out the ES 300h range locally to three variants.

Complementing the existing entry-level Luxury and top-line Sports Luxury grades, the F Sport will be positioned both as a new middle tier for this range of large sedans, and as the most driver-focussed of the lineup.

The F Sport’s debut comes as part of the arrival of a 2020 model year update for the Lexus ES lineup, which will see all three variants fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring for the first time.

2020 Lexus ES F Sport cobalt driving

The F Sport will retain the same four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain as the other seventh-generation ES sedans on sale in Australia. Badged ES 300h, the trio pair a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated engine with two hybrid motors to produce 160kW of power. Combined torque is not stated.

While the Australian-spec ES F Sport does not pick up the V6 petrol engine offered in the United States, there are mechanical changes in the form of the addition of standard adaptive variable dampers to the F Sport grade, along with the figment larger 19-inch wheels.

Outside, more assertive styling on F Sport cars includes a jet black mesh grille and the unique availability of an exclusive Cobalt Mica grey exterior colour.

2020 Lexus ES F Sport red leather

The interior colour choices on the ES 300h F Sport include a bold Flare Red option and more understated black hide. The F Sport also picks up a unique design on the ES’s eight-inch digital driver display, plus a smattering of F motifs throughout.

The addition of smartphone mirroring tech for the ES lineup will arrive around the same time as the facelifted Lexus RX SUV, which also gains CarPlay and Android Auto. Unlike the RX, however, the ES does not gain a touchscreen at this time, with infotainment still to be controlled through the Lexus Remote Touch interface.

Pricing has not yet been revealed for the ES 300h F Sport – or indeed the range of revised ES 300h sedans for the 2020 model year.

2020 Lexus ES F Sport cobalt driving

With the F Sport parachuting in as the middle tier between today’s ES 300h Luxury ($59,888, $67,279 driveaway) and the flagship Sports Luxury ($74,888, $83,819 driveaway), an educated guess would place the F Sport’s list price somewhere between $65,000 and $70,000.

Standard equipment on the ES lineup will continue to include navigation, DAB radio, front-door keyless entry and start, a sunroof, 10-way power adjustable heated front seats, auto lights and wipers, and dual-zone climate control. All ES grades are also fitted with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.

The ES 300h F Sport will add the aforementioned styling changes and adaptive variable dampers, plus safety tech previously reserved for the Sports Luxury — blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a 360-degree camera. Additional F Sport equipment additions include cooled front seats and memory for the driver’s seat and steering wheel adjustments.

Pricing for the 2020 Lexus ES range is slated to be announced next month. Lexus are operating a platform for customers to register interest now.

2020 Lexus ES F Sport blue driving
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2019 ŠKODA KODIAQ RS side blue 2020 Skoda Kodiaq RS diesel confirmed for Australia

After a long period of negotiations with head office, Skoda Australia have locked in their hottest SUV model yet for Australia. The 2020 Skoda Kodiaq RS will run the same potent biturbo diesel engine seen in the European version of the vehicle that launched earlier this year.

The Kodiaq RS will be available for order from late 2019, Skoda says, which should mean the first customer deliveries will take place in late summer. A price will be confirmed later this year, but we predict an Australian price of around $60,000 before on-road costs.

2019 ŠKODA KODIAQ RS interior
Quilted suedecloth seats hold passengers in during sporty cornering.

Specification for the Kodiaq RS is similar in many ways to the current sporty Kodiaq variant – the petrol-powered 132TSI Sportline – with the major change being a substantial upgrade in engine outputs from the RS’s diesel donk, which was enough to secure the Kodiaq RS the Nurburgring lap record for seven-seater SUVs.

Skoda’s flagship SUV will usher in a 176kW/500Nm twin-turbocharged diesel four-cylinder that has remained forbidden fruit for Australian buyers for several years. The 176TDI engine is available overseas in a number of other Volkswagen Group products, including the Passat and Tiguan.

2019 ŠKODA KODIAQ RS front blue
A brighter colour palette will likely be available on the RS.

Green-lighting the Kodiaq RS was predicated on a reclassification of the Australian market from ‘hot and dusty’ to ‘moderately hot’ – a switch Skoda recently secured. A year ago, it was looking as though the Kodiaq RS had been ruled out for Australia.

Not only did the ‘hot and dusty’ classification restrict the 176TDI diesel engine, but it has also stopped Australian buyers from accessing full-output versions of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R performance grades. The European specification of the Golf R, for example, is rated at 221kW/400Nm, while the ‘hot and dusty’ Australian version is capped at 213kW/380Nm.

2019 ŠKODA KODIAQ RS rear blue
An AWD system complements the 176kW/500Nm diesel engine.

So, can we expect to receive European outputs in future? We put the question to the general manager of corporate communications at both Skoda and Volkswagen Australia, Paul Pottinger.

“While this announcement applies to Skoda for now, potentially it means that “full cream” variants of [Volkswagen] Group products will no longer be off limits for our market,” said Mr Pottinger, specifically naming the above example of the Golf R.

We’ll have more when Skoda is ready to announce a price and equipment list for the Kodiaq RS later in 2019.

Skoda Kodiaq RS white side
The Kodiaq RS also holds the Nurburgring lap record for seven-seaters.
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