This press pack accompanied the UK launch of the Lexus IS200 SportCross October 2002. Some changes were made to the model range during its time on sale, which can be tracked using the Timeline feature available on the Lexus IS 200 SportCross archive web page. Additional assets and information relating to the IS200 SportCross may be obtained from the Lexus press office if required.
LEXUS IS200 SPORTCROSS
New IS200 SportCross – specification largely based on IS200 Sport model with limited slip differential, drilled aluminium pedals, stainless steel scuff plates, rear dark tinted glass, roof spoiler and two-tone steering wheel
Lexus SportCross with ‘crossover’ styling, combines dynamic performance with five-door versatility, creating a new segment in the luxury car marketplace
On sale from 22 October - priced at £21,990, (IS300 SportCross priced at £28,450)
Refined, powerful and smooth 153bhp 2.0-litre six cylinder 24v engine
VVT-i (variable valve timing – intelligent) for optimum power and torque
High standard specification including six-speed manual gearbox, alloy wheels, nine speaker premium sound system with six-disc CD autochanger, electric sunroof, and curtain shield airbags
Precise six-speed manual transmission
Rewarding rear wheel drive chassis with double wishbone suspension
Optional pop-up DVD Lexus Navigator satellite navigation system available for £2,340
Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist (BA) and Traction Control (TRC) fitted as standard
Twin front airbags, front side and Curtain Shield airbags standard
Front seat side airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners standard equipment
Underbody aerodynamics reduce drag, improve driving performance and fuel consumption
Attention to weight distribution and torsional rigidity ensures optimum handling for SportCross
Maximum speed of 134mph (where permitted), 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds
Competitive insurance grouping of 13E
CO2 figure of 233g/km
The IS200 is the Lexus challenger in the compact executive sector of the UK car market competing against established models such as the BMW 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-class and Audi A4. The saloon model went on sale in the UK on 20 May 1999 through a dedicated network of Lexus centres committed to delivering standard-setting customer service.
The IS200 combines a rewarding rear-wheel drive chassis with aggressive contemporary looks and a stylish interior with standard equipment which puts the IS200 on the wish list of many customers bored of the usual executive offerings in this class.
The entire IS series is a sporting proposition, which loses none of the refinement, quality and sheer owner appeal of the bigger executive models that have created such an enthusiastic and evangelical owner base in the UK.
From its launch at the beginning of 1999, the Lexus IS200 successfully challenged the best compact saloons in Europe, to create a new standard in one of the most competitive market places in the industry. This year over 15,000 customers across Europe are set to enjoy the unique and exciting driving experience that is delivered by the IS series.
The Lexus IS200 SportCross builds on the attributes that have made the Lexus IS200 one of the most popular compact luxury sports saloons in Europe. The original philosophy behind the range was created by Lexus engineer Nobuaki Katayama, the Chief Engineer of the IS project. He identified that while most luxury saloons are easy to drive, few were fun – and set out to change that.
“The IS range has a very strong identity,” said Mr. Katayama. “The car is different – and expresses the personality of the confident, independent individuals who drive it. The identity and the handling are the strong points of the original IS200, and we knew that we couldn’t dilute those for the sake of more space or extra power. All through the development we made sure that none of the alterations interfered with the balance that we managed to strike with the original car over three years ago.
“In addition, the ‘crossover concept’ of the SportCross introduces a new concept to the Lexus range, offering enhanced levels of versatility without compromising handling or dynamics, thanks to outstanding weight distribution and torsional rigidity.”
IS200 SPORTCROSS ‘CROSSOVER CONCEPT’
The new IS200 SportCross demonstrates Lexus’ continued ability to create a spectacular new concept in luxury and performance car design. It introduces radical styling to combine the dynamic performance and handling of the IS200 saloon with five-door versatility and practicality.
While sharing the powertrain and front-end styling of the IS200 saloon, the SportCross pays careful attention to structural rigidity and weight distribution, including the use of an aluminium tailgate, to ensure that it handles as well as the best sports saloons.
Clever interior design ensures that while having a rear profile similar to a sleek coupé, the IS200 SportCross can accommodate over 340 litres of luggage under its parcel cover with rear seats upright. A further 36 litres of space is available in additional covered storage boxes, while with seats folded items over 2.6m long can be carried.
“Our aim was to make the IS200 SportCross as good to drive as the IS200 saloon,” says Mr Katayama. “It has the same performance. Its handling, sharpness and stability are identical. The SportCross has the advantage of five-door versatility, with folding seats and active space in the rear. SportCross has the sort of versatility that you might associate with an SUV, but it is not dull and heavy. It has the sort of refinement and comfort you would associate with a Lexus.”
DISTINCTIVE, EYE-CATCHING AND EFFICIENT STYLING
The Lexus IS200 and IS300 SportCross models share the same platform as the IS saloon models, but have a slightly increased length of 4505mm, while the wheelbase remains identical at 2670mm. Although both models share similar front-end styling, a reprofiled front bumper exclusive to the SportCross gives the model a more sporting and wider, more robust appearance.
The sharply wedged silhouette commences with a powerful bulging bonnet line dipping sharply down towards the grille, emphasising the dynamic overall shape and significantly improving air flow over the body. The familiar Lexus grille features three horizontal bars. It is combined with angled headlamps, low slung spoiler and built-in fog lamps to add to the sports effect.
The side mouldings on both the saloon and the SportCross give the cars a strong stance and offer a high level of protection. Made out of polypropylene, they give a reduction in weight as well as improving recyclability.
The rear bumper styling links smoothly with the alloy rear door, that wraps around the side, while the rear door glass has been given a rounded shape, expressing a feeling of solidity.
The rear tailgate handle is operated by a micro-switch, allowing a traditional locking key cylinder to be removed. As soon as the switch is activated, either manually or using the remote control, the door can be opened. However it automatically remains locked if the central locking is applied or the vehicle is in motion.
Subtle aerodynamic aids allow the achievement of a low co-efficient of drag (Cd) of 0.30 (only 0.01 up from the saloon’s Cd 0.29) for improved fuel consumption at speed and also actively utilise the airflow to contribute both to the straight-line stability and during high-speed cornering.
Further airflow enhancements include the rounding of the lower part of the front bumper and bonnet lip, resulting in both smoother airflow and reduced drag.
The grille design features a dramatically reduced aperture to further control underbonnet airflow. While the grille itself remains the same size, 80 per cent of its openings are now sealed to reduce turbulence and drag.
INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE COMBINES PASSION WITH PRACTICALITY
The Lexus IS saloon and SportCross interior styling reflects the distinctive style of the exterior. It is sporty but spacious. The aim of the development concept, known as ‘Heat in Cool’ was to ensure the fun-to-drive feel, but driver and passengers alike will equally appreciate the seats’ comfort and the light and roomy cabin.
Sports seats and a three-spoke grey and black leather steering wheel are fitted as standard. The leather/‘Escaine’ (suede-like material) seats are designed to offer maximum driver and passenger comfort for long distance touring yet provide plenty of support during performance driving.
The fully integrated on-board DVD-based navigation system, which is available as an option, features a seven-inch pop-up display fitted to the top of the centre console. The large screen is easy to see and read from any seat so either driver or passenger can navigate. When the navigation system is not being used the display folds back into the console for neatness. The navigation controls are positioned at the bottom of the centre-console.
A full climate control air conditioning system is standard equipment that provides temperature regulated airflow to all areas of the cabin and also houses the display of outside temperature and digital clock. An additional foot/demist mode is also fitted.
Remote control central locking, electric windows all round, with one-touch control and jam-protection for the driver's side are fitted as standard equipment. So are heated, electrically folding exterior mirrors, front and rear fog lamps, illuminated vanity mirrors and passenger seat belt warning.
The nine-speaker audio system is fully integrated into the sweeping centre console and includes an in-dash six-disc CD changer. As a safety and convenience measure, the audio equipment controls are simplified for ease of operation, despite the technical sophistication of the system. Additionally providing a luxury feel to the interior are chrome-plate bezel rings surrounding each of the front door-mounted speakers.
With all seats in place, the SportCross can accommodate 340 litres of luggage under its load area cover. A further 36 litres of space is available in additional covered storage boxes. The 880mm-long load space in the rear is large enough to allow four golf bags or three suitcases to be carried without interrupting rear visibility.
The rear seats are designed to fold in a 60/40 per cent split to further enhance flexibility. This allows up to three people to be carried while extending the length of the available load space to 1670mm. The front passenger seat back can also be folded forward, allowing it to be used as a table when parked and extending the available load length to 2600mm.
A flat loading area that creates a level across the rear load compartment, luggage box and rear deck space is fitted as standard equipment. The board, made of lightweight resin, can be aligned at two levels. At the upper level, the deck becomes fully flat; at the lower, larger luggage can be stowed. A DC 12V-power outlet is provided on the inner right shoulder of the luggage compartment.
To allow three passengers to be safely carried in the back of the SportCross, full lap and diagonal seat belts are provided for all passengers, with the centre seat belt retractor built into the roof, to allow for optimum convenience. Both the left and right side rear seats, like the saloon, comply with ISO-FIX child seat requirements.
The aluminium rear door of the SportCross, in addition to aiding optimum weight distribution, also enhances the ‘feel’ of a true luxury car. Weighing 5.6kg less than an equivalent steel hatch, the aluminium door contributes to significantly lower opening forces and a better feeling on closing.
OPTIMUM WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION ASSURES PRECISE HANDLING
Praised from the outset for turn-in responses and out-of-corner traction among the best in any class, the front engine, rear-wheel drive configuration of the IS range provides the best possible levels of control and driver enjoyment. Sophisticated multi-link double wishbone suspension is fitted front and rear to all IS models to enable the best possible balance between optimum steering response, ride comfort and precision handling.
This is enhanced by optimum front to rear weight distribution, achieved by reducing front and rear overhangs to a minimum and moving heavy items inside the car’s wheelbase. Careful design of the rear of the SportCross ensures that both the torsional rigidity and weight distribution remain the same as the saloon – a unique attribute in any five-door car.
Large diameter front and rear brake discs, ventilated at the front, allow stopping distances, with either hot or cold discs, to be among the best in the class which emphasises the car’s role as a performance leader.
Braking performance is further enhanced by the use of a large master cylinder diameter to further improve brake pedal feel, along with the adoption of ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution).
A further significant safety enhancement is the use of Brake Assist, which interprets a quick push of the brake pedal as emergency braking and supplements the braking power applied to maximise braking performance in conjunction with ABS. This overcomes a known problem in emergencies of drivers not applying sufficient force to the brake pedal.
A key feature of Brake Assist is that the timing and degree of braking assistance is designed to ensure that the driver doesn’t notice anything unusual about the braking operation. When the driver eases up on the brake pedal, the system reduces the amount of assistance it applies.
Active and passive safety has been a major priority in the design of the new Lexus IS series. Precise steering, positive suspension and powerful brakes are all integral parts of the safety package. Standard equipment also includes pre-tensioned front seatbelts with force limiters, along with driver and front passenger SRS airbags, plus side Curtain Shield SRS airbags.
If sensors mounted in the bottom of the centre pillar detect an impact from the side, the side airbag and curtain shield airbag are employed at the same time. This enables passengers to avoid direct impact to the head from objects inside the car such as the door pillar and from objects outside the car such as posts or projecting parts of other vehicles.
Lexus IS – The Sportiest Approach To A Prestige Saloon The introduction of the Lexus IS in 1999 marked another important step for Lexus. For the first time, Lexus was represented in the competitive D-segment with a product that could satisfy a wider range of European customers.
The Lexus IS is the entry model in the range, offering refinement, roominess and comfort of a prestige saloon on a dynamic and involving chassis.
The key words for this car are individuality and driver enjoyment. The Lexus IS looks different from any other car in its segment, displaying a reassuring personality. On the other hand, the development team strove in making a car that provides enjoyment and pleasure to its driver in every detail. It is appropriate for relaxed commuting to work, comfortable during long holiday travelling and fully rewarding when driving fast through a twisty road.
Sportiness and Refinement in the Powertrain Choice
Of course, inside as much as out, every model in the IS range reflects the quality and integrity that makes it a Lexus. The truly dominant feature of any member of the IS series is the driving experience - and at its heart is the powertrain.
The IS200 is equipped with a straight six 2.0-litre engine, producing 153bhp and 195 Nm of torque. This engine features four valves per cylinder and is equipped with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent). This system provides better torque through low and mid engine speed range, but also better fuel efficiency. When power is a need, VVT-i can also make some gains on the upper range.
This engine also utilises ETCS-i (Electronic Throttle Control System – intelligent) and ACIS (Acoustic Control Induction System). ETCS-i is a drive by-wire accelerator that provides a quicker engine response or smoother progress, according to the driver’s intentions. ACIS can vary the intake manifold length in order to improve torque on low and mid range, also improving engine smoothness.
IS200 SportCross is offered with a rewarding six speed manual gearbox. This transmission can extract the most out of the straight six engine, featuring a sleek and fast gear change, and also smoothness of operation.
Sporty Handling and Comfortable Ride in the Same Package
To achieve the goals set in the beginning of the Lexus IS development project; handling was a crucial feature of this model. It had to be quick, providing an excellent handling for driver enjoyment, but should also display a comfortable ride, even on cobbled roads, without displaying the harshness that is common to many pure-handling sports cars.
Suspension features a double wishbone layout both at front and rear. This well-proven geometry features simplicity and maintains wheels perpendicular to the ground in most situations. This reflects on superior grip and superior driver confidence. Front suspension was designed to suppress front diving during hard braking and the rear suspension was fine-tuned to optimise the vehicle’s centre of gravity during cornering.
Braking was another particularly important development area in the Lexus IS. It uses the brake discs from the bigger Lexus GS300 to achieve a braking performance suited to most demanding driver. If braking power gives the driver a superior confidence, brake anti-fading also gives assurance through the adoption of generous-size discs and calipers.
If chassis and brakes are important to achieve a superior handling, traction is the last part of the equation. Therefore, the IS200 SportCross features 16-inch wheels with large-dimension tyres. A Torsen limited-slip differential and a Traction Control (TRC) system prevent wheelspin, making sure all the power is properly converted into performance.
Passive safety has been a major priority in the design of the Lexus IS range. Standard equipment includes driver and front passenger SRS airbags, plus side SRS airbags, along with pre-tensioned front seatbelts with force limiters. Standard side curtain shield airbags offer supplemental head protection for front passengers in the case of a side impact.
Figure hugging sports seats, a three-spoke, leather steering wheel and excellent driving position come as standard. The seats are designed to offer maximum driver and passenger comfort for long distance touring while providing plenty of support during performance driving. The sports seats are finished as standard equipment in leather and ‘Escaine’ in either black or ivory.
Dominating the instrument panel is the innovative chronograph style speedometer and tachometer cluster, the graphics of which have been recently altered to further enhance their style and ease of reading. Minor gauges within the combined cluster include an instantaneous fuel consumption reading, engine temperature, battery indicator and fuel gauge.
A full climate control air conditioning system is standard equipment as is remote control central double locking, electric power windows all round, with one-touch control and jam-protection for the driver's side. Also fitted as standard are heated, electrically folding exterior mirrors, front fog lamps, illuminated vanity mirrors and a passenger seat belt warning.
SPECIFICATION, COLOURS AND COMPETITOR COMPARISONS
Specification of the IS200 SportCross for the UK is high including leather and ‘Escaine’ (suede like trim) upholstery, six-speed gearbox, rear privacy glass, aluminium drilled pedals, rear spoiler, nine speaker audio system and electric folding mirrors.
The new IS200 SportCross model is available in the following nine colours:
St Lucia Pearl
The SportCross appeals to the customer who is looking for something different and exclusive at an affordable price. It is more modern and exciting than the obvious choices in the segment, which have lost some of their appeal for regular buyers.
Customers in this segment are predominantly male high achievers in management or self-employed, however there are an increasing number of female customers. The majority is between 35-45 years old with a family who needs a practical car as well as a fun to drive one. They see the car as both recognition of achievement and a statement of individuality and confidence.
There is also a significant proportion of ‘empty nesters’- couples whose children have left home - who find themselves, once again with the freedom to enjoy spending money and making a personal choice.
IS200 SportCross is priced at £21,990 and its main competitors include Mercedes C200 Avant-garde, AUDI A4 Avant and BMW 320i SE Touring. Only the 320i Touring offers a six cylinder and to specify that to the level of the IS200 SportCross would cost 22 per cent more or £3,180 to add items such as electric front seats, electric sunroof and headlight washers to its list price. The 2.0-litre four cylinder Audi A4 Avant would need £3,440 added to its list price to match the standard specification of the SportCross. A full table of the SportCross and its main competitors are listed on the following page.
CO2 based specification adjusted monthly tax charge 2002/2003*
Source: Competitor Information October 2002
The IS200 SportCross is priced at £21,990 and is largely based on the IS200 Sport saloon model that features a number of detailed mechanical and cosmetic enhancements designed to satisfy the demanding driver.
The optional Lexus Navigator system is DVD based for even greater accuracy and has the ability to store 13 times the amount of information as a conventional CD driven system. DVD also operates faster and has more features.
IS200 SportCross has engine speed-sensitive power assisted steering, twin front, side and Curtain Shield airbags, electronic front seat belt pre-tensioners with force limiters and anti-lock brakes as standard. Together with a standard traction control system, double wishbone suspension and large diameter disc brakes, helping to make the IS200 SportCross one of the most rewarding drives on the road.
Servicing and Maintenance
Thanks to the advanced VVT-i technology, the IS200 SportCross does not require a first one thousand-mile service and major services are at 20,000 miles, or two-year intervals.
Every 10,000 miles, or 12 months the vehicle requires a safety check that takes just 0.6 hours. This involves an oil and filter change and safety items check that includes brake pad thickness, lights, levels and tyre wear. The IS200 SportCross uses long life 60,000-mile spark plugs and the timing belt only requires replacement at 100,000 miles. Total labour for servicing over a five-year / 50,000-mile period amounts to only 5.4 hours.
The 2.0-litre 24v straight six VVT-i engine also has a number of maintenance free components including hydraulic valve lifters, direct ignition and fuel filter. The exhaust system is made of stainless steel and the brakes incorporate long life pads. The engine only requires regular mineral grade oil, not the more expensive synthetic or semi-synthetic type.
Although Lexus is a premium brand, it does not believe in charging premium prices for servicing and parts. In fact, the aim has been to make the servicing and parts replacement costs for the car appreciably cheaper than its rivals.
Not only is the IS200 SportCross an intelligent choice in the showroom it is also an intelligent choice when it comes to servicing and maintenance.
Insurance Groupings and Security
The IS200 has been designed to satisfy the highest security requirements in the world – namely the UK’s. IS200 meets the UK Government’s Home Office policy to deter and prevent vehicle theft (New Vehicle Security Guidance). What Car? Magazine tested the IS200’s security features and awarded it 100 out of 100 perfect points score as the most secure vehicle on sale in the UK in 2000 and 2001. Insurance group for the IS200 SportCross is a highly competitive 13E.
A key embedded transponder engine immobiliser is fitted as standard to IS200 SportCross along with a factory fitted Thatcham-approved category one alarm system with its own battery back-up.
A double locking system with freewheeling locks is also standard fit on all grades. All alloy wheels have locking wheel nuts and the audio and navigation systems are unique fit items and will not work if separated from the vehicle.
All grades display a visible VIN plate and all windows are etched with a security code. Additionally, up to 60 parts are covertly marked to aid police identification of the vehicle. The boot can also be separately deadlocked.
Active and passive safety was a major priority in the design of the Lexus IS200 SportCross. Precise steering, positive suspension and powerful brakes are all integral parts of the safety package.
Standard equipment includes switchable traction control and four channel anti-lock brakes. Driver and front passenger SRS airbags, Curtain Shield airbags plus side SRS airbags are also standard equipment along with pre-tensioned front seatbelts with force limiters.
Lexus IS200 SportCross, like all other Lexus models is backed by a comprehensive customer support package, which offers complete peace of mind. The three-year, 60,000 miles mechanical warranty is standard and Lexus boasts a 12-year anti-corrosion perforation warranty. A three-year paint warranty is also included.
LEXUS IS200 SPORTCROSS EQUIPMENT LIST
Driver & front passenger airbags
Driver & front passenger side airbags
Curtain Shield airbags
Child proof locks on all rear doors
Anti-lock braking system (four-channel independent)
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution with Brake Assist