Lexus IS 350
Quantum44’ed LexusText and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis
Toyota Altezza (or Your Highness in Italian) entered the Japanese car market back in 1998; a more civilised version under the name IS was offered to the rest of the world from the Toyota sister brand - Lexus. Both of the cars were designed as the entry-level sport/luxurious models and gained huge success in both markets; the men in the suits loved it, so did the boys with the racing gloves and a heavier right foot. It was so popular in Ireland in fact I believe half of the vehicles manufactured ended up there.
7 years after the release of the original model a facelift, codename XE20, was announced. Following the introduction of the Lexus brand in Japan, Toyota decided to drop the Altezza completely; from there on internationally the car became known as the Lexus IS. The new model designed by Kengo Matsumo was showcased to the general public at the New York Auto show in April 2005. The facelift 4 door sedan received a more modern and striking design with sharper edges and lines that appealed to many people.
The interior of the IS offered the typical high quality finish, with features like memory leather seats, beautiful design instrument panel and display as standard.
Lexus was well aware they couldn’t lose the sport pedigree either, so a rally driver Suguya Fukusato was invited to be a part of the design team acting as the chief engineer. His main mission was to make sure the luxurious cruiser would still provide a very sporty, balanced and precise driving experience. As a result Lexus saw a massive sales increase of 332% in their very first year of production. Suddenly the IS was now being compared to the big boys in the luxury market - Mercedes-Benz C-CLass and Audi A4. With all the global warming and other environmental concerns, the boys and girls in Lexus decided it was time for another change – for the first time in the IS history a diesel engine was made available. The 175 hp (130 kW) 2.2L inline 4 diesel engines attached to a 6-speed manual gearbox became an instant hit.
Even though the previous generation model was very popular amongst the drifters and tuners, the facelift model is still relatively new to the modified world; therefore it was of no surprise when Cathal’s IS made appearances in a couple of shows this year, it did draw a lot of attention. The car started its life in a grey outfit that looked great, but to be fair it was more suited the people in suits wanting to blend in the masses; however, Cathal vision was a car that gets noticed, so a colour change was unavoidable. The mysterious blue tone worked the magic and the car transformation was unbelievable.
When the time came to style the body Cathal’s choice was very sharp – nothing makes a smart car look smarter than the OEM kit; in this case it was in the shape of the sporty Lexus IS F body kit. It is an amazing kit that transforms the car completely, giving it the mean and sporty look it deserves.
The car was lowered on H&R 35mm springs giving it the much needed ‘stance and presence’. As for the choice of wheels – Cathal decided to go for something fresh and unique. A set of TS1 rims manufactured by the local Northern Ireland's company Quantum44 were installed finishing off the car perfectly.