At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit – Jan. 9, 2001, Lexus announced the expansion of the IS line-up with the versatile IS300 SportCross, as well as the final production version of the SC430 hardtop convertible. Both cars will make their way to Europe later this year, along with the 3.0-litre IS300 Sedan.
Lexus IS300 SportCross
The IS300 SportCross blurs the lines between body types. It offers extra space and a tailgate to address the needs of those with active lifestyles, yet it continues the individual styling and performance that distinguishes the IS Sedan.
“We wanted to preserve the image of dynamic performance with the SportCross,” says Nobuaki Katayama, Chief Engineer for the car. “A conventional wagon body would detract from that image, and on the other hand we also knew that IS customers didn’t need the full capacity of a conventional wagon. That is why we opted for the innovative cross-over concept that is the SportCross.”
The SportCross doesn’t hide its family link with the IS Sedan. The redesigned rear continues several of the Sedan’s styling cues, like the distinctive taillight treatment.
Inside, the SportCross features a split fold-down rear seatback and a fold-down front passenger seatback to carry long or oddly shaped items.
The IS300 SportCross will be equipped with the same 6 cylinder in-line engine that powers the GS300. It will be linked to a five-speed automatic gearbox featuring E-Shift steering wheel controls. The same engine and gearbox will also be used in the European IS300 Sedan. Both cars will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show, and will go on sale in Europe during the second half of this year.
Another star of the Detroit Show was the final production version of the SC430, which will go on sale in Europe this Summer.
The car combines eye catching design with Lexus refinement, and features a retractable hardtop that allows the driver to change from hardtop coupe into convertible in under 25 seconds. The exterior styling was done by Toyota’s European design studio, and was inspired by the luxurious lifestyle of the French Riviera. The interior uses the finest natural materials to recreate the atmosphere of a refined cabin space.
The SC430 introduces a host of innovative convenience features to the cabrio segment, including an advanced climate control system with an ‘open mode’, that compensates for top-down driving by adjusting airflow and air temperature automatically, and that even takes vehicle speed into account. The state of the art Mark Levinson audio unit is equipped to overcome the difference in acoustics between open-top and closed driving, and again takes vehicle speed into account.
The car has been designed from the start as a cabriolet, allowing engineers to achieve a highly rigid body. This, in conjunction with the all-round double wishbone, makes for excellent driving dynamics and comfort.
The SC430 will be powered by the new Lexus V8 engine which is also found in the new LS430 and the GS430, and is equipped with a five-speed automatic gearbox.
Lexus Europe already holds orders for more than the first year’s production of SC430.