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Monday, April 28, 2008

COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW: Toyota Altezza AS200 (Lexus IS200)/ RS200 BEAMS DUAL VVTI

COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW: Toyota Altezza AS200 (Lexus IS200)/ RS200 BEAMS DUAL VVTI


My (Jeff LIm's) VIEWS:

In this review, I’m covering mainly Lexus IS200. In Japan’s the European IS200’s known as the Altezza AS200. The AS200 is mechanically the same as the UK Lexus IS200, using the same engine and gearboxes. In addition, I'd like to add my own review on Altezza RS200 BEAMS DUAL VVTI.

Why I review this model? It’s because of the ROCK SOLID Resale value pricing in Malaysia. A year 1999 Altezza RS200's up for RM80,000, while a 2000 model Altezza RS200 still fetching RM88,000. A 2001 model’s up for RM98,000. AN Unregistered 2002 model (from Japan): RM120,000. Why is it so? It's all due to the supply and demand thingy. Grey importers brought in Limited units to Malaysia. But the demand's there for Toyota Altezza RS200.

It's all due to the state of the art engine and gearbox. Check it out: Maximum Power 210ps @ 7,600 rpm, Torque: 216Nm @ 6,400 rpm. What the... why so high revving? It's TUNED BY YAMAHA that's why. Gearbox: 6 speed manual or 5 speed Sport-shift (tiptronic) automatic (something Toyota forgotten to install in todays' cars). Eg. The New Camry and the newly launched RM120,000 Corolla Altis still powered by 4 speed Automatic(!).

However the basic specification of Altezza is lower than the equivalent Lexus IS200 but with many options available.


My Toyota Altezza RS200 brief review:

I got a chance to drive a year 2000 Altezza RS200 for a short 20 minutes. The dashboard quality's still akin new with nice to touch plastics. The Dash meter's like a Breitling watch (see picture somewhere in this review). The car's fitted with Electric Sunroof, powered seats, climate control, high quality leather.
In every car there's a downside. For the Altezza's interior, it's the rear seat legroom - it's cramped (I'm only 5 feet 9). It's as bad as BMW E36 3 series.

The Japanese Domestic version of the Lexus IS200, the Altezza RS200's 3S-GE engine was specially tuned by Yamaha to produce 210 PS @ 7,600rpm. It is also the first Toyota to be equipped with BEAMS Dual VVT-i which is only recently available for the newer range of Lexus.

DRIVE TIME

The RS200 gives out an explosion of power, almost comparable to the Honda BIG VTEC (DOHC), feeling and sounding like a race car as the variable valve gear starts. The Toyota Altezza is very enjoyable to drive with a race-feel engine GROWL (when you REV it past 6000rpm) and great build quality. If you are looking for an automatic, the Japanese version has the 5 Speed F1-Style gearshift which is also great fun to drive. Performance of the RS200 is much much greater than the AS200 and there are many after market performance parts available which are lacking on the AS200/Lexus IS200.

Now, the ride and handling: This car handles very very well (My friend's car's fitted with 17" OZ Rims & a set of Continental ContiSport Contact II shoes)! It's one of the better handling cars which was pleasure to drive. It corners like rails with no hit of oversteer cornering at 100km/h (it's a rear drive car remember?), A real driver's car; awesome steering feel and response. Best appreciated on twisty roads. Again, the downside: Due to the hard suspension, the ride was jittery over Malaysian rough roads. The engine's smooth (typical Toyota) when you drive sanely (NOT REVVING IT) but spoiled by my friend's aftermarket Loud 2" Exhaust system.

END OF RS200 review. That's all I can comments, can't review the car properly as I just spent 20 minutes with the car. All is not lost, again, I dished out a detailed Lexus IS200 (Toyota Altezza AS200) "Supertest" by GoAuto Australia topped with NINE OWNER'S Review from Belgium, Canada, US, UK, Sweden, Australia and Ireland.

i)Carsurvey.org (owner's review 1 to 7) and ii) autos.msn.com (owner's review 8 and 9).

CREDITS also given to LEXUS OWNER’S Club UK for some of the Specifications. ALSO, Bonsaicars.com for Top speed & Acceleration times. Here’s the "Go Auto Australia" review. Enjoy!:

Overview (SUPER TEST)

Model release dates: March 1999 - October 2005


LEXUS has always been a brand to be feared in the luxury class and now, with the IS200, it tackles BMW's heartland where the 3 Series has reigned seemingly forever. The IS200 has a balanced chassis, outstanding handling and a sweet six-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine, whereas its similarly priced competition only offers four cylinders. The IS200's only real problem is it lacks a clear sense of identity. And that's rather important at this end of the market. In certain markets, the IS200’s also available in Sportscross wagon (Altezza Gita in Japan). Picture below.


The Car

THERE'S no doubting Lexus' intention with the IS200; claim the small sports crown from the 3 Series BMW. Under the skin it adopts the same front-engine rear-drive philosophy as the BMW, but the exterior and interior design states bluntly that this is a sports sedan rather than a sports tourer. Check out the wedge-shaped side-profile, the aggressive trapezoidal headlights and the large alloy wheels.

Seat Plan

THE IS200'S interior and boot space is optimised by placing the fuel tank ahead of the rear wheels. The compact multi-link rear suspension aids space utilisation as well. There's a lockable flock-lined glovebox with lamp and an upper and centre console, front and rear door pockets and front and rear-centre mounted cup holders.

The Car - Seats

THE IS200's interior speaks of its sporting intent and the marque's luxury heritage. The seat trim is Chenille fabric with metal-fibre highlights, the driver's seat eight-way adjustable and the front passenger's seat four-way adjustable. There are separate headrests for all passengers with the front headrests being four-way adjustable; the rear headrests are two-way adjustable. There are seat back pockets on the front seats.

The Car - Dash

THE IS200 has unique chronograph-style instruments and round air vents. Instrumentation includes speedometer, tachometer, instantaneous fuel consumption meter, fuel level gauge, coolant temperature gauge, voltage meter and automatic transmission shift indicator. The dash is a two-tone design, with a metallic colour highlight running across the centre of the crash pad. There's an electronic odometer and twin trip meter to complete the package.

The Car - Controls

THE IS200's leather steering wheel has perforated leather inserts, accentuating its sporting intent. There are chrome highlights on the gearshift, air vents, doorhandles and handbrake lever button. Electronic cruise control with resume and coast function is available only with the optional automatic transmission. There's a centre mounted digital clock and front centre console bin. Power window functions are mounted in the driver's door.

The Car - Wheels/tyres

LEXUS says the tyre choice for the IS200 was specifically developed to match local conditions and driving tastes. So what do we get? Quite a choice actually. While the standard offering is a 16-inch x 6.5-inch alloy wheel mated to the 205/55R16 V-rated Bridgestone RE030, the Luxury Option offers a machine-finished 17-inch x 7-inch alloy wheel combined with a 215/45 17R Z-speed rated Bridgestone RE040. Two accessory 17-inch wheels are offered: one from Japan the other from OZ Racing in Italy.

The Car - Luggage

THERE'S no split-fold rear seat, but there is a "Trunk-through" capacity which adds to the IS200's flexibility. A sports ski port bag, which can hold four snow skis or two snowboards, is an accessory. A safety triangle and a comprehensive first-aid kit are located in the boot. The kit includes items for communicable disease protection. There are chromed luggage tie-down hooks in the boot.

The Car - Stand out features



THE IS200 reeks of individuality, thanks to its bespoke exterior and interior, including the striking chronograph instruments. The performance of the chassis is outstanding, backing up the sports look, and the gearbox is exceptional. Its equipment levels are high and the pricing is attractive. There are also plenty of options and accessories to customise your car.


The Car - Climate control

CLIMATE control air-conditioning is standard in the IS200, and includes a pollen filter which keeps pollutants to a minimum. Rotary type heater/air-conditioning controls are used. There are also rear seat passenger ventilation ducts. An external ambient temperature gauge is part of the package.

The Car - Sound system

THE Australian Spec IS200's stereo is a premium-grade Fujitsu Ten audio system with 220 watts of power and eight speakers spread around the cabin. The sound system include a six-disc in-dash CD player with controls that includes random and repeat functions. The tape deck includes full logic controls and metal tape facility. The radio has 12 FM station presets and six AM presets. The IS200 has a roof-mounted pole antenna for the radio.

The Car - Security


LEXUS claimed the IS200 anti-theft system was the most sophisticated ever offered in a Lexus when it launched the car. The security system is designed to protect contents as well the car. Keys are laser-milled; theft-preventing radar intrusion sensor detects movement inside the vehicle; a transponder-type engine immobiliser is standard and a self-powered siren is located in boot. The IS200 is also fitted with specially-strengthened door locks (pictured).


We like (+ve): Delightful chassis, smooth, melodic engine, Lexus quality
We don’t like (-ve): Melodic engine lacks punch, car lacks identity



GOAuto's Opinion

By TIM BRITTEN 30/07/99

"THE IS200 is probably the most hyped Lexus since the original LS400 was launched in 1990.

Neither the ES300 - which shares its basics with the Toyota Camry and poses the question of why it should be necessary to spend a lot more money merely to get a supposedly more prestigious badge and a little extra equipment - nor the muscle-bound GS300 that came during 1998, stirred the industry as much as this blatant attempt at claiming a plot in BMW's heartland.

And blatant it surely is, because it is not necessary to dig too deep into the IS200's styling, pricing or mechanical layout to see signs of the 3 Series BMW - or even Mercedes-Benz C-class - peeking through.

The little Lexus apes 3 Series dimensions in all directions, except it is a smidgin smaller, and runs an inline, six-cylinder engine of modest capacity and a liking for high rpm.

It uses short overhangs front and rear, and is styled to appeal to prestige buyers with its sporting lines overlaid by a certain conservatism.

Toyota obviously squeezed every drop of expertise from its suspension engineers because the rear-drive IS200 is undoubtedly the best balanced, neatest handling Lexus yet.

It adopts double wishbones and coil springs at the front, and a multi-link double-wishbone system at the rear, all contrived to give an exquisite ride/handling compromise.

Mate this with the clean revving, twin camshaft, multi-valve six - along with BMW-style variable (inlet) camshaft timing - and there you have it: the magic ingredients that should result in a car no prestige buyer can resist.

And, without doubt, the Lexus scores on every point - with the exception of one significant flaw.


The standard of finish is pure Lexus - tight panel fit and deep, glossy paint - but a few aberrations exist.

And the surprisingly messy under-bonnet layout looks like an amalgam of early Mercedes and Iveco truck with its essentially black treatment, while a conglomeration of plastic component covers keep the viewer guessing as to what sort of engine lies underneath.

The dash, with its ribbed upper surfaces and uninspiring centre console, is not readily warmed to - although the radio controls are large and user-friendly - while the seats, at first well-shaped and supportive, can tend to create a little discomfort after more than two hours at the wheel. And the wheel has only a primitive, one-way adjustment.

The front seats are available with electric adjustment but only on the driver's side; front passengers must be content with normal, manual operation, right down to a primitive lever-style ratchet backrest adjuster and no seat height control.

The back seat caters well enough for its passengers with reasonable legroom although there is no split/fold backrest to make the most of luggage space. A ski port behind the central armrest is at least provided.

But the driving experience is something well above the ordinary. The little inline six, wound out to its red line of around 6300rpm, does not mind a bit and it emits a nice, muted throaty tone at the same time.

But the acceleration is about what you would expect of a 155hp, 2.0-litre engine being asked to propel a 1.3-tonne body - it provides rapid forward motion but needs to be revved hard, just like the six-cylinder 320i BMW in its previous E36 guise - not surprising when you consider maximum torque in the Lexus appears at a high 4600rpm.

All that said, the chassis balance and ride quality are outstanding. Few cars come to mind that cope so well with (optional) low-profile 17-inch 215/45 tyres in terms of ride quality, while the handling is pin-sharp and secure with only minimal suggestions of the bump-steer that comes as standard when wheel offset exceeds certain margins.

The Lexus is thus a nice car in which to go in search of fast, winding, traffic-free roads, especially in the six-speed manual version which offers a polished metal, quick-throw lever and well matched gear ratios.

So, overall, the IS200 is a thoroughly refined competitor in the compact prestige class and a real threat, in terms of what it offers buyers (such as the various after-purchase benefits offered with the Lexus package) and in terms of its unquestioned capabilities. It is also very well priced.

The baby Lexus is a carefully contrived offering in the prestige class that loses nothing to its European competition except a clear sense of identity."

END OF GOAUTO Australia's opinions

Mechanical - Plan views


DOES this sound familiar? A small capacity inline six-cylinder engine mounted longitudinally and driving the rear wheels. BMW? No, Lexus IS200 - a most sincere form of flattery.


Mechanical - Engine


THE IS200 is powered by a straight six engine developing 155hp @ 6200rpm and 195Nm of torque at 4600rpm. The engine is mounted longitudinally and powers the rear wheels. It is a sophisticated engine, with power and torque spread aided by intelligent variable valve timing and variable-length induction tracts.

THE IS200'S front suspension is by double wishbones, controlled by coil springs and two-stage gas-filled dampers. The rear suspension is a double wishbone, true multi-link system with a toe control arm for improved rear wheel directional stability under hard braking.

SIX computers control all the major systems of the car. The engine features fully sequential fuel injection. The transmission is electronically controlled, as is the throttle. The electronic throttle is networked to the engine computer to provide idle speed control, shift-shock reduction control, cruise control (with auto only), traction control and snow mode.

Mechanical - Transmission


THE standard transmission in the IS200 is a six-speed manual. A four-speed automatic is optional. The new manual transmission was developed by Aisin-Warner, a Toyota subsidiary, and the IS200 is its first application outside Japan. The auto is intelligent, adaptive and electronically-controlled.

Mechanical - Brakes & steering

THE braking system is vacuum-boosted dual circuit hydraulic with four-wheel discs. The front brake hardware for the IS200 is 296mm x 32mm ventilated discs with twin-piston, floating callipers. The rear brakes are 307mm x 12mm solid rear discs with single opposed piston callipers. The anti-lock braking system is a four-sensor, three-channel type.

THE rack and pinion power steering system is engine-speed sensitive. The overall steering ratio is 15.7, with 3.25 turns lock-to-lock and minimum turning circle of 10.2m.

Safety

AIRBAGS are mounted in the IS200's steering wheel, passenger dash and front seats. The front seats are designed to reduce whiplash injury, through careful placement of the upper section and the head restraint. Lap-sash seatbelts are standard all-round and the front seatbelts have pretensioners. The steering column is energy-absorbing and four-way collapsible. The optional skiport bag was crash tested to ensure it remains in place in an accident. A traction control system is standard on IS200.

END OF REVIEW BY GO AUTO AUSTRALIA.

SPECIFICATIONS:

ENGINE:

1) LEXUS IS200 @ Altezza AS200
* In-line 6, 24v, longitudinally mounted REAR WHEEL DRIVE
* Capacity: 1998cc
* Induction: Twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, electronically-controlled variable inlet camshaft timing. Multi- point fuel injection
2) ALTEZZA RS200: As above except in-line 4, 16v BEAMS DUAL VVTi, Yamaha tuned

1) * Bore/Stroke: 75.0mm x 75.0mm
* Compression ratio: 10:1
2) ALTEZZA RS200: 11.5:1

MAX POWER/TORQUE:

1) Lexus IS200 @ Altezza AS200
* Power: 114kw (155hp) at 6200rpm
* Torque: 195nm at 4600rpm

2) ALTEZZA RS200: 1998 4 Cyl 3S-GE
210ps @ 7,600 rpm
216Nm @ 6,400 rpm


TRANSMISSION:

1) * Six-speed manual, Four-speed automatic
2)*6 speed manual, 5 SPEED SEQUENTIAL SHIFT AUTOMATIC

SUSPENSION:


* Front: Independent double wishbone with lower coil
* Rear: Independent multi-link double wishbone with lower coil

STEERING:

* Power-assisted rack and pinion
* Turns lock to lock: 3.25
* Turning circle: 10.2m

BRAKES:

*Vacuum-boosted dual circuit hydraulic with four-wheel discs.
*Front brake: 296mm x 32mm ventilated discs with twin-piston, floating callipers.
*Rear brake: 307mm x 12mm solid rear discs with single opposed piston callipers.
*Anti-lock braking system: four-sensor, three-channel type.
*TCS (Traction Control)

DIMENSIONS:


*Length 4400 mm
*Ground clearance 150 mm
*Width 1725 mm
*Height 1420 mm
*Total (curb) weight 1360 kg / 2998 lb
*Wheelbase 2670 mm
*Track front 1495 mm
*Track rear 1475 mm

Both 1) and 2) IDENTICAL
AVERAGE FUEL CONSUMPTION:
1) FC: 11.6km/l
2) FC: 11.0km/l
*Fuel tank: 60L

PERFORMANCE:

1)* Top speed: 215km/h (Top speed: 207km/h - Auto)
*0-100km/h: 8.5 secs (11.2 secs Auto)

2) *Top speed 233km/h if unrestricted (JDM limited to 180km/h)
0-100km/h: 7.2 secs (MANUAL)
*Top speed 230km/h if unrestricted (JDM limited to 180km/h)
0-100km/h: 8.0secs (AUTO)

http://www.bonsaicars.com/Altezza/
Top speed and 0-100km/h source)


COLOUR CHOICES (All colours can be seen in this Blog, in “Owners’ review”: Silver, Super WHite, Pearl White, Bright Yellow, Super Red, Met. Black, Met. Grey, Dark Green Mica, Dark Blue Mica

STANDARD EQUIPMENT:

* Driver and passenger airbags
* Side front airbags
* Anti-lock brakes
* Climate control air-conditioning
* Alloy wheels
* Six-stack CD player
* Limited slip differential
* Traction control
* Trip computer
*Leather seats with front driver seat 8 way electronically adjustable

- END OF SPECIFICATIONS -











The following were sourced from MSN Auto US website:
http://autos.msn.com/research/userreviews/reviewlist.aspx?modelid=10618

MSN Auto (US) User Reviews
9.1 Overall Rating

9.4 Styling
9.1 Performance
8.8 Interior
9.2 Quality
9.1 Recommendation











END OF A LONG REVIEW: Thanks for having the patience to read it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

cheers all helpfull stuff, love the cars looks just want something so the kid wont kick the back of the chairs

Kyoko Nitori said...

I agree, Toyota Altezza is somewhat a look-a-like of Lexus but since they are sister company I think their engineer is sharing idea for their concept car.

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