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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Altezza No More
All-new Lexus IS250, IS350 become real 3-series assassins

http://www.urbanracer.com/articles/anmviewer.asp?a=1558&z=27



Since its introduction in 2000, the IS has been the black sheep of the Lexus brand. It featured a stylish but relatively low-rent interior (by Lexus standards), was powered by a throaty straight-six not found anywhere else in the Lexus lineup, and even lacked the famous quiet-as-a-bank-vault Lexus cabin environment. Yet, these reasons (and more) are why it’s our favorite Lexus. It’s also been the only real (RWD) Asian alternative to the BMW 3-series, and most importantly, it’s been embraced by the tuner market. For all of you that are IS fans like us - bad news and good news.

First the bad news: 2005 marks the end of the line for the first generation IS300. You can kiss the unique chronograph instrumentation and Altezza-taillight - industry-spawning tail lamp design good bye. The good news is the all-new 2006 IS is a more stylish, more powerful, more serious performing sport sedan that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best offerings from Bavaria. Basically, think sending an IS to an Olympic training camp and then – with new muscles and all – on to a German finishing school. The three-model, IS250/350 lineup went in as Avril Lavigne wannabes, and came out as Jennifer Garner assassin-types.





The three model range will start with the IS250, include a IS-first IS250 AWD, and top out with the IS350. Let’s get straight to the point though. While a lot of us will miss the 3.0 L 215 HP 2JZ-GE Inline-6 (especially those who’ve been bolting big hair dryers to them lately), the new two-engine lineup offers choices the financial flexibility of choosing between an entry level 2.5 L V6 with 204 HP and a honking 3.5 L V6 with 306 HP for those of us who have a big right foot. Yea, the 2.5 L is no longer a straight-six design, but with 185 lb-ft of torque, dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) and a trick direct-to-cylinder fuel injection system, the new 4GR-FSE engine promises to be one of the most modern V6s to ever come from Toyota. The even beefier 3.5 L 2GR-FSE engine pumps out 277 [email protected] 4,800 to make 0-60 runs in the IS350 just a 5.6-second journey. Let that sink in for a second. That sinks any BMW 3 Series outside of the 333 HP M-powered coupe; the closest the four door Bimmers get is the 255 HP 330i, which does the 60 mph sprint almost a second slower.





The 3.5 L engine uses both port and direct fuel injection strategies, primarily to lower emissions, but also to lower cylinder temperatures for higher compression ratios (11.8:1 in the 3.5, 12.0:1 in the 2.5). As well, chain-driven camshafts, roller rocker arms, and a variable valve dual-exhaust system also help performance. While Toyota engineers were at it, they also prescribed two new transmissions: a six-speed manual standard for the 2.5 (sorry, no manual for the 250 AWD and 350 – yet?) and a sequential-shift six-speed automatic that is optional on the 250 and standard on the 350. You heard it here first - the GR family of engines will do for Toyota/Lexus what the VQ group of mills has done for Nissan/Infiniti.





Having a Lexus badge though means there’s a lot more to the package than just what’s in front of the firewall, or even behind it; there’s also the technology that ties it all together. At the top of the long, long list on the 350 is the new Lexus Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. Introduced on the 2006 Lexus GS, the VDIM system is tuned to work with the IS’ dynamic characteristics and ties in handling, traction, and brake control systems under one intelligent system. The active-control VDIM system uses information including steering angle, yaw rate, deceleration, brake pressure, brake pedal stroke, and wheel speed to cue in the network of VDIM systems made up of electronic throttle, traction control, ABS, EBD, VSC and EPS and make stabilizing corrections in skid, slide, or other unhappy (usually) scenarios. And while a Big Brother type of system like VDIM will irk most guys who own Nomex underwear (no, it can’t be turned off – blame the lawyers), the VDIM system is more transparent to others – in fact, we had to take a quick peek at the dash for confirmation that the system was in action while we were trying out the new IS350 on the big track at the Willow Springs. Overall, having a VDIM babysitter will be beneficial to everybody except the .05 percent of owners who will turn their IS350s into dedicated track cars.





With a 52/48 weight distribution ration and a lower center of gravity thanks to the lower profile Vee engine configuration, all three IS models hustle well around Willow Spring’s 2.5 miles of turns and elevation changes. It’s clear though that the IS350 is on another level. On the big and fast Willow, the IS 350 sucks down asphalt like a V6-powered Hoover. Drive conservatively (like we do) and 120 mph still shows up easily at the end of the ½ mile straight. The metallic steering wheel mounted shift paddles are a work of art, work well and force you to play with them even if you’re not found of paddle shifting. Large 13.5 inch front brake rotors with aluminum four-pot calipers inspire confidence and are fade-resistant. Even the Electric Power Steering is impressive for its refinement – it doesn’t feel like one. We’re pretty confident we didn’t even approach 80% of the IS’ capabilities – and this is 4-door sport sedan. The manual-equipped IS250 still feels lithe and reasonably quick (7.9 sec. 0-60), but the sluggish-feeling AWD IS250 is best left to those of us in the Northeast looking for four-wheeled security. Yes, our down payment would go to the IS350 – even if it meant a Spam and water diet for the next couple of years. Lexus estimates that the IS250 AWD will top out at 130 mph, the IS 250 auto reaches 140 mph, and the IS250 manual and IS350 (auto only) hit an electronically limited 142 mph. And that’s before you bolt on your turbo system – kidding (uh, not really).





Back to the electronic goodies; the IS is fitted with features found usually in its big brother GS’ class of service. That includes a SmartAccess keyless entry with ever-pleasing push-button start, a dual (high and low) HID headlamps, Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS), heated/ventilated (felt great in the desert Willow heat) seats, dual zone automatic climate control (back passengers get their own A/C vents too), and even the tractor beam-like Dynamic Radar Cruise Control to please the Trekkies among us. The laundry list of technical features spills over to the safety column too – the IS comes with driver and front passenger knee airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, and front seat side-mounted airbags to compliment a Lexus pre-Collision System (PCS) that retracts the front seat belts and preps the Brake Assist (for increased braking with less effort) in the event the front mounted radar sensor senses that you’re about to say “oh sh*t” (Note: the front passenger airbag is a world-first twin-chamber unit that reduces secondary airbag injuries).

Outside, even though the IS grows in every dimension – 3.5 in. longer, 3.0 in. wider, 2.4 in. longer wheelbase, and 1.9 in. wider in rear tread, the taut and muscular feel of the original IS is not lost. Cues from the LF-series of concept cars are evident and there’s a lot of time spent on aerodynamic details. In fact, the IS has an excellent drag coefficient of 0.28; no doubt helped by things like small “air kick” tails shaped into the rear tail light covers. Look underneath the IS, and you’ll find special underbody trays that further reduce drag, and even exhaust and gusseting details that you’d expect more on a Ferrari F430 than a $30-something four-door sport sedan. The overall look is definitely more upscale, more familial “hey the GS is my big brother” Lexus than the distinct, “I was a Toyota Altezza in a previous life” look of the IS300.





Inside, the look is also upscale. In fact, it looks good enough to for a car costing several income brackets more. The instrumentation has a unique clarity thanks to Optitron lighting; and even though it’s more conventional than the old chronograph style setup, it still looks sporty. Another trick gadget are lighted rings within the tach and speedo that act as customizable shift-lights/alerts. A large info screen dominates the central console, and is occupied by the optional Navigation System. Along with the dynamic maps and friendly lady-voice, you also get a rear-view backup camera feature when you check the Nav option box. Interior landscape is a nice mix of rich looking plastic, smooth metal, and a Black, Cashmere, or Sterling interior color palate. Birds-eye maple trim is optional and so is leather or perforated leather seat trim.

One of the things we learned during our introduction to the new IS is that who you have as a chief engineer on a project can influence the outcome of a project more than you think. Take for example IS Chief Engineer Suguya Fukusato, who happens to be an ex-rally racer. Did we mention he has a Porsche 911 in his garage too? There couldn’t have been a better match for the IS project. Fukusato-san was on hand for the intro and even took time out to give us a spin in the IS. You know your chief engineer is into it when he shows up to the press intro with his own custom-painted helmet and racing suit.





Fukusato, who was also interestingly enough the head engineer on the European Toyota Avensis project that was the basis for the Scion tC, had specific goals for the new IS – in fact, he had 500 of them. Most of them though can fall under performance or luxury categories. But besides being a racer and a hardcore fan of technology, Fukusato-san is also a diehard audiophile of the first order (he has his own sound room and vacuum tube amplifiers). So, besides having nailed his performance and dynamic targets for the IS, and besides getting the interior of the IS to Lexus standards, Fukusato focused specifically on making the IS sound system extraordinary. The result is the Mark Levinson Discrete 5.1 Surround Sound System. The system is good. That’s an a huge understatement; 14 speakers, 10 channels, 300 watts, CD, CD-R, DTS 5.1, DVD Video, and DVD Audio compatibility – this is the best factory audio system that we’ve come across yet.

So while the IS that we know and love is already gone by the time you read this, you can feel better knowing that its replacement is more of what we love – mostly. While many may worry that the hot-rod Lexus IS is moving more towards the luxury end of the luxury-sport equation, the IS350 should erase doubt 5.6 seconds at a time – even if it’s equipped with theater-quality sound and wrapped in an Italian label suit. All we ask for is a beefy six-speed to go with the IS350 – and maybe we won’t even mention our wishes for a hi-perf model to go toe-to-toe with the next M3.
 
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Reactions: Crester

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Wow you sure do have alot of time digging these articles up on the internet. :lol: Good find though.
 

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repost
 

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Repost... but it was nice seeing all of those pictures posted DIRECTLY to the forum.
 

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sick article. love the pics. good post k3vo.. +rep for you when I can dish out some ....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Crester said:
Repost... but it was nice seeing all of those pictures posted DIRECTLY to the forum.
I know some of the pics are old, and I did a site search before posting. Was this article actually posted elsewhere? URL?
 

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to me the new IS is not sexy as Gen I. I will keep my car for years to come........
 

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k3vo said:
I know some of the pics are old, and I did a site search before posting. Was this article actually posted elsewhere? URL?
The article was posted here before (somebody put the URL already)... but not all of the pictures were shown.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
tsopranoMB said:
yeah, thanks, I posted this FIRST....:cool:
Sorry, T, didn't mean to thread jack.

I am gonna have to learn how to use the darn Search function better.

Looked for
- urbanracer
- urban racer
- Altezza No More

I can see why the first two weren't found (urbanracer.com), but "Altezza No More"? Does the search function not search thread titles?
 
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