Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- The Altezza name is also used generally for clear rear automobile tail lamps resembling those on the Toyota Altezza
The Altezza (known as the Lexus IS 200 and Lexus IS 300 in export markets) is a compact luxury car from Toyota. Its main rivals are BMW 3-series and Audi A4. This first-generation Altezza (codename XE10) was launched in Japan in October 1998. The Lexus IS200 made its debut in Europe in 1999.
The Altezza comes in 2 variants:
- The AS200 (codename GXE10), powered by the 1G-FE inline-6 engine generating 155 hp (115 kW) and mated to a 5-speed manual transmission (4-speed automatic optional)
- The RS200 (codename SXE10) powered by the 3S-GE inline-4 engine generating 206 hp (153 kW) and mated to a 6-speed transmission (5-speed automatic optional)
European and North American-market Lexus IS vehicles, as well as the Japanese hatchback version called the Gita (called Lexus IS Sportcross in US and Europe) are only available with either the 1G-FE engine version or the 2JZ-GE 6-cylinder inline engine version, which is also found in the naturally-aspirated fourth-generation Toyota Supra and Lexus GS/Toyota Aristo amongst others. The 2JZ-GE powered IS series are popular amongst tuners in the US because of this.
In Japan, the RS200 version is more popular due to the wide availability of tuning parts, as the engine is shared with with the last of the SW20 MR2 and ST202 Celica. As a result, a number of tuning companies modified the IS/Altezza over the years. The MillenWorks-built Lexus IS 430 was unveiled at the 2003 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The IS 430 prototype is an IS 300 fitted with a 4.3 L V8 from the Lexus GS 430. Lexus dubs the IS 430 a one-off with no plans for production. In Europe, Toyota Team Europe TTE shoehorned a Supercharged 4.3 L V8 into a IS300 bodyshell, the result is a 400 hp (298 kW) saloon capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. TTE also produced an aftermarket Supercharger kit for the IS200, raising the power output to 205 hp (152 kW). Naturally, a number of Japanese tuning firms, including Toyota's own TOM'S and TRD, offered parts and sometimes complete car conversions.
The RS200 is also used by many racing teams, including TRD (Toyota Racing Development), to race in various touring car championship series across Asia. A Lexus IS200, based on a heavily modified RS200, has also raced in the British Touring Car Championship with limited success.
US and European sales of the Lexus IS300 have been disappointing. In the US market, after hitting a high of 22,486 units in 2001, IS sales dropped below the 10,000-unit mark in 2004. The IS200 fared better in Europe and Asia, but still fall well short of the sales volume achieved by the likes of the BMW 3-series.
The Altezza will be redesigned for the 2006 model year and will be introduced in the Fall of 2005. A pre-production example was shown in the 2005 Geneva Autoshow .
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