Our acquaintance with the Lexus IS 200


When you see this car for the first time, you freeze spellbound. Later, when the look becomes accustomed, the beauty of the machine becomes for granted, but still, moving in the stream, you constantly catch the enthusiastic looks of others.


In the fall of 1998, Toyota introduced the new mid-class rear-wheel drive sedan, the Lexus IS 200, with a sporty character and luxurious finish. Engine - six-cylinder, 2.0 liter; gearbox - six-speed manual or four-speed automatic. In Japan, the car is sold as a Toyota Altezza and can be equipped with not only a six-, but also a four-cylinder engine of the same displacement.


Stylistically, the Lexus IS 200 succeeded without a doubt. The restrained-regular wedge of the body is emphasized by the low line of the hood with a thoroughbred hump in the middle, smooth contours of the doors and roof, and a slightly "swollen" tail. Probably, from such correctness there would even be a sore point if there weren’t a few expressive touches on the body of the Lexus. Say, the original tail lights, claiming to be the hallmark of the car.

But this is only the beginning - the attack on emotions continues. You just take a fleeting glance at the interior of the car and freeze again. This time, before the instrument cluster. Neither give nor take - an expensive Swiss chronograph.

From a very compact arrangement of all kinds of dials and dials replete in the eyes. A brilliant girdle rim brings the combination to its logical conclusion, and you feel yourself alone with a very attractive product. Naturally, all these impressions are only amplified by contact with the shiny knob of the gear lever, embossed forms of an almost anatomical seat and a comfortable three-spoke steering wheel. In a word, there are plenty of “bells and whistles” in the Lexus-IS200.

Its creators decided not to save on driving performance. Under the hood there is an in-line two-liter “six” with variable valve timing, in the transmission there is a six-speed gearbox, a drive to the rear axle. The battery in the trunk - for better weight distribution. Some may have had the sensation of something painfully familiar. Yes, yes, we have a classmate (and competitor!) BMW 3 Series, only born on another continent. Well, in order to understand how serious the claims are, it's time to get down to business.


"Two hundredth" pleases the driver with almost perfect seat shapes with four mechanical adjustments. The steering wheel trimmed with genuine leather, height-adjustable, perfectly "lays down" in a palm. The seemingly slippery ball of the gearbox lever is actually snap and comfortable. The climate control system can be said to be flawless. It has all the possible functions, except perhaps the presence of separate streams for the driver and front passenger.

Nevertheless, the Lexus is by no means sinless. My colleague, who is not at all gigantic in size, suddenly gets stuck in his left leg while trying to quickly transfer it from the platform to the clutch pedal. Having played enough with all the buttons and toggle switches, I suddenly find myself thinking that I don’t perceive the instrument cluster at all - it is as unreadable as it is attractive in appearance. It's a shame, because the larger brothers of the Lexus - the "300th" and "400th" - are famous for the flawlessness of information to the driver. Perhaps the “two hundredth” does not reach the correspondence competitor and the size of the cabin. If you almost don’t feel this in front, then the drop-down roof makes you pull your head into your shoulders, and even crawl as low as possible, fortunately, the length of the cabin allows.

Maybe driving experiences compensate for some of the shortcomings?


Alas, the motor, in spite of all kinds of technical innovations, for some reason does not cause a tangible emotional shock. Its character is expectedly convenient in most traffic situations, however, while the engine does not want to flaunt either an outstanding temperament, or, conversely, the most even, stable characteristics. On the “bottoms”, “Lexus” looks a little slack, but on the “tops” the “pick-up” emerging after 4500 rpm is very abruptly cut off by the electronic limiter immediately after 6000 rpm.

Maybe the fashionable six-speed gearbox is changing something? No, and here everything is as balanced as possible. Clear, deliberately tough gear shifts cannot but inspire approval, but the “six-speed” design itself is in practice unclaimed - either because of our stereotypes of driving, or because of very similar gear ratios to higher gears.

As if feeling a chill that has been outlined in our relationship, the Lexus demonstrates the rest of the driving opportunities right with a bang.

Powerful brakes equipped with the latest anti-lock braking system. Elastic and at the same time comfortable suspension basically copes with the peculiarities of domestic roads. Only at high speeds does it allow some slack on long gentle waves.

Not bad car, if you evaluate it noise and vibration. Nothing superfluous or standing out from the general background does not get into the salon. However, here Russia is invincible. The latest Yokohama Advan 205 / 55R16 tires react very painfully to asphalt roughness, filling the car’s interior with a monotonous, unpleasant hum.

In terms of controllability, the Lexus, mostly understandable and balanced, still showed character. This fast, sometimes even harsh car can compete on equal terms with its counterpart from Bavaria. With an increase in speed, the Lexus, as befits a thoroughbred rear-wheel drive, is less and less willing to call into a turn. Naturally, you begin to act more actively in the steering wheel, and here the car shows independence for the first time - sluggishly, but persistently starting to scour from side to side. On irregularities, all this develops into a frank transverse buildup. Especially it does not interfere, but does not add positive emotions.


General data: number of places - 5; curb weight - 1360-1435 kg; gross weight - 1820 kg; maximum speed - 215 km / h; acceleration time from standstill to 100 km / h - 9.5 s; fuel consumption in conventional suburban and city cycles - 7.8 and 12.9 l / 100 km; fuel supply - 70 l; fuel - unleaded AI-95 gasoline. Sizes, mm: length - 4400; width - 1700; height - 1420; base - 2670; ground clearance - 135; trunk volume - 400 l. Engine: six-cylinder, gasoline, in-line, with distributed injection, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing; working volume - 1998 smz; cylinder diameter and piston stroke - 75x75 mm; maximum power - 114 kW / 155 l. with. at 6200 rpm; maximum torque - 195 N.m at 4600 rpm. Transmission: rear-wheel drive; gearbox - six-speed manual, transmission ratio: I - 3.87; II - 2.18; III - 1.48; IV - 1.22; V is 1.0; VI - 0.87; h. x - 3.67; final drive - 3.91. Brakes: hydraulic, disc with an amplifier and ABS; the front ones are ventilated. Steering: rack and pinion with power steering. Tire size: 225 / 60ZR16.

How, then, to perceive the "Lexus IS 200"? What characterizes him better - outstanding appearance and power-to-weight ratio or “averagely comfortable” driving qualities? The question is delicate, especially at a price of $ 37, 900. In our opinion, rationalism still won.

Photo by Vladimir Knyazev