TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. has not ruled out selling the Lexus IS 200, known as the Altezza in Japan, in the United States. The car is aimed primarily at Europe, however.
The rear-drive sports sedan targets the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C class. The IS 200 will be the cornerstone of Toyota's plans to separate the Lexus franchise in Europe. Toyota is targeting Lexus sales of 18,000 in 1999, of which 10,000 will be the IS 200.
Toyota officials here in Tokyo insisted they have not decided whether the IS 200 will be sold in North America. They even claimed that Toyota has not decided what name it would use if it does show up in U.S. showrooms.
The Japan-version Altezza, whose name is derived from an Italian word meaning noble, comes with an inline four- or six-cylinder 2.0-liter engine, but the IS 200 will offer only the six-banger with 160 hp. The styling is conservative, except for a striking instrument cluster that looks like a luxury chronograph. The Altezza is 174.2 inches long, 68.1 inches wide and 55.8 inches tall. It sits on a 105.7-inch wheelbase.
Toyota aims to sell 4,000 Altezzas a month, at prices starting from ¥2.07 million, or about $18,000 at current exchange rates, for the six-cylinder engine. The four-cylinder models start at about $19,480.