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Supercharged Lexus leads performance charge

Power boost: The IS200's TTE-developed supercharger boosts power and acceleration significantly.

Prestige and luxury car maker Lexus will bolster its range with four new models toward the end of 2001 as it targets increased sales

28 Nov 2000

TOYOTA Australia's conversions and motorsport division, T-CAM, has started testing a supercharged Lexus IS200 with introduction proposed for the third quarter of 2001. It is part of a late-year model blitz by the prestige and luxury car-maker. The supercharger kit has been developed by Toyota Team Europe at its headquarters in Cologne, Germany, and has been on the road in Australia since mid-November. It is the second kit the Germans have sent out, the first sent back by T-CAM with a series of changes and improvements recommended. Adaptation of the supercharger kit from left to right-hand drive has proved a hindrance to the project's progress. However, the power boost will be worth it, lifting the inline six's rating from 114kW to 152kW and dropping the claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time from 8.5 to 7.4 seconds. The motivation for bringing the supercharged car to Australia is that it is available with a six-speed manual transmission, unlike the IS300 which is expected here in September, 2001, equipped only with a five-speed automatic. The other two cars on the schedule for Lexus in 2001 are the new ES300 in October and the SC430 metal-top convertible in November. Thanks to the Australian dollar, pricing is a long way from fixed, but expect the supercharged IS200 to be in the $60,000 bracket, the IS300, powered by the same inline six-cylinder engine as the GS300, will be around $70,000 and the ES300 in the mid-to-high $70,000 region. The SC430, powered by the same V8 engine as in the LS430 flagship, will be priced around $150,000. The fleshing out of the "lower" part of its model range will play an important role in Lexus Australia's aims of hitting 8500 sales through 25 dealers by 2005. It sold 3091 cars in 1999 and currently has 20 dealers. "We would hope the supercharged car would come out around the same time as the IS300 in the third quarter of next year," said Lexus Australia senior manager Chris Beuth. "It will fit in roughly just under the IS300, but we haven't got definite figures yet." But the car Mr Beuth is really sweating on is the new generation ES300, which will continue to be the bulk seller in the Lexus range. The ES will share its platform with the next generation Camry - which is not due out for a further 12 months - which means it will be the only front-wheel drive and V6 Lexus. Its engine will have the Toyota VVT-i variable valve timing system, unlike the Camry. "The current ES has been around for eight years and by the time it gets replaced next year it will be nine years old," Mr Beuth said. "The one that's coming is a stunning looking car, so that's going to sell very well. The style is magnificent, very aggressive styling ... it's got a very definite Lexus look about it."

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