January 09, 2001
Lexus Introduces Two New IS 300 Models in Detroit
Lexus has announced two new versions of the IS 300 for 2002: the IS 300 SportCross and an IS 300 sedan featuring a five-speed manual transmission.
Both new IS 300 models were introduced at the North American International Auto Show and will be available in August 2001.
The Lexus IS 300 sedan, currently on the market, is designed to compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW sports sedans.
Lexus will offer the 2002 IS 300 sedan equipped with the five-speed manual transmission as a separate model that will also feature slightly firmer suspension tuning than the automatic model. The five-speed manual transmission is aimed at drivers who prefer more control over the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine.
The IS 300 engine, shared with the larger GS 300 performance/luxury sedan, produces 215 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 218 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,800 rpm.
Lexus expects to sell 1,600 in the shortened 2001 year with a projected 4,800 units sold in the following years.
Younger Buyers Targeted
"When we introduced the IS 300 for 2001, we promised that we'd offer a manual transmission model for 2002, and we're fulfilling that promise," said Denny Clements, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "The IS 300 has been attracting younger customers to Lexus showrooms, and many of them have been waiting for a manual transmission."
Lexus also expects the 2002 IS 300 SportCross to appeal to younger customers, many of whom have small families or need room for outdoor activities such as mountain biking.
"Like the IS 300 sedan, the IS 300 SportCross was initially designed for the European market, and there is a sizeable -- and vocal -- portion of our customer base that appreciates that we've brought these models to the U.S. with no compromise in design or performance," Clements said.
Lexus plans to sell about 5,000 SportCross models annually.
The SportCross includes several features designed to help owners get the most from its expanded utility, including a tonneau cover to keep valuables out of sight, a luggage box, a cargo area "false floor" to keep small items hidden, plus a folding passenger seat with a seatback table and rear power outlet for "tailgating." A rear wiper-washer will be standard equipment.
New Safety Technology for 2002
Like the IS 300 sedan, the IS 300 SportCross will be offered in one high-content equipment level, with just a few options and option packages available. All IS 300 models for 2002 will benefit from new safety technology and interior detail enhancements.
The standard anti-lock brake system (ABS) already includes Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and for 2002 Lexus will add the Brake Assist feature. Brake Assist can determine emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal, supplement the applied braking power.
New standard side curtain airbags for 2002 offer supplemental head protection for front occupants in side impacts. (Front seat-mounted side airbags are already standard on the 2001 IS 300.)
The 2002 IS 300 SportCross and the IS 300 automatic sedan will also offer the Lexus Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) system as an option in addition to the standard full-range traction control (TRAC). A Torsen torque-sensing limited-slip differential comes with the VSC option and will remain a separate option for the manual-transmission sedan.
Inside, all IS 300 models for 2002 get a new electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror with integral compass as standard equipment. An optional DVD-based satellite navigation system also will be available.
Every IS 300 will come with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty. Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 months or 70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage.