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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those of you interested in the SportCross, there is an article about it in the August 10th, 2001 edition of the National Post in the Driver's Edge section.

The article can be found with two small photos at:

Follow the link to driver's edge.

Below is the text of the article and the prices quoted are in CDN dollars. The BMW 3-series wagon is not yet available in Canada although it is in the USA.

Same zoom, more room
2002 Lexus IS 300 SportCross: Think of it as a sports sedan with a really big trunk

David Booth
National Post

For all those frustrated sports-car-buying drivers -- now with children -- who have been wishing BMW would import the shooting brake (as wagons are sometimes called on the other side of the Atlantic) version of its entirely estimable 3 Series sedan, salvation is at hand. There is a minor wrinkle, however. You have to go to your local Lexus dealer to buy it.


OK, so a simple little explanation is in order. For those in the know, it is no secret that Lexus' IS 300 sedan is targeted directly at the heart of BMW's biggest niche -- the entry-level luxury sports sedan market. Three-litre inline six motor. Rear drive. Five-speed automatic with E-shift manual gear selection. Heck, it even looks like a baby 330.

Widening the IS's appeal this year is the addition of a five-speed manual transmission (it probably needs a six-speed for true sporting types) and its newest iteration, the SportCross.

Don't let the name fool you as it did me. The SportCross is not some hairy SUV hybrid wannabe. Instead, think of the Mercedes-Benz C320 Estate which, as Driver's Edge has previously reported, is nothing more than one of the German company's luxury sedans with more trunk room.

Ditto for the IS 300. Sure, the wheels are painted a darker hue of silver (the standard rims on the wagon are, by the way, the same wheels that are optional on the sedan), the lower front fascia is altered and, of course, the rear end is completely different. But the drivetrain is identical and the interior is all stuff that has been seen before, save some extra utility items such as bungee cords with hooks and power outlets in the rear storage area that befit a wagon's utility pretensions.

Depending on the angle, the transformation from four-door sedan to five-door wagon is either graceful or a little quirky. From the front, side and especially the three-quarters rear view, the SportCross is well sculpted and graceful. From the front three-quarters aspect, though, the rear roofline appears a little awkward, almost as if the rear hatch's forward slope is excessive.

There is nothing awkward about the vehicle's handling, however. In gaining more cargo capacity, the IS 300 wagon is 57 kilograms heavier, a minuscule amount considering its usable cargo capacity has more than doubled to 21.9 cubic feet.

The wagon's handling feels no less planted than the sedan's and the steering no heavier, hardly surprising since most of the weight increase is over the rear axle. In keeping that extra rear-biased avoirdupois in control, Lexus has fine-tuned the rear springs and given the SportCross some slightly meatier 225/45ZR17 rear Bridgestone tires (the fronts are the same 215/45ZR17s that are offered as options on the sedan).

With the same 215-horsepower, 3.0-litre inline six as the sedan, it is little wonder the SportCross is only 0.1 seconds slower to 96 kilometres an hour (60 miles an hour) than the automatic sedan. And only 0.6 behind the manually shifted four-door.

In wagon guise, the engine feels equally sophisticated, with no more noise intrusion into the cabin (a fault common to some sedan-based wagons), and it is still amazingly sophisticated. Now that BMW has raised its 3.0-litre engine's output to 225 horses, and the class-leading Acura TL Type S can boast 260, the IS 300 could use a little extra urge. But that's only if keeping up with the proverbial Joneses is a necessity. Otherwise, the S

2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The Toronto Star newspaper also ran a short article on the SportCross on Aug 11th, 2001.

Here is the text of the article:

The time is right for Lexus SportCross version

Trendy and sporty, it's a better package than the regular IS

Alex Law

To paraphrase somebody famous (given the nature of the quote, it may have been Zsa Zsa Gabor), "There is nothing so powerful as a body style whose time has come."

Certainly the SportCross version of the Lexus IS 300 sports sedan seems exactly right, right now. Its stylish, wagonish back seems perfectly in tune with the sport-utes and sport-cutes and sport-brutes that are all the rage.

As well as being trendy, the SportCross is actually a better package than the regular IS 300 in the same way that all boxed rear ends are better than all trunked rear ends — they're roomier and more flexible.

It features all of the go-fast stuff that the IS 300 has, the most important being the 3.0-litre inline-six engine that produces 215 hp at 5,800 rpm and 218 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm, and the five-speed manumatic with its stickshift and up/down buttons on the steering column. The manual from the sedan is not available on the SportCross.

It's true that the extra 50 or so kg of curb weight might negatively affect the car's launch (Lexus says it adds another 0.1 of a second to the car's 0-100 km/h speed) but since most of that mass sits at the back end, the rear-tossing abilities of the vehicle might actually improve.

In any conditions, the SportCross is also quiet and solid. This is important, since the primary potential problems with this body style have always been more noise getting into the cabin from the rear wheels (a trunk acts as a great sound deadener) and less structural rigidity without the body panels going from side to side behind the rear seats.

Toyota Canada hasn't priced the SportCross yet, but the IS 300 sedan started at $40,830 last year, so we can probably expect a little more for the wagon version. With various options, you'll probably be able to get one up to $50,000 if you're so inclined.
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