When Toyota launched the Altezza in Japan in 1998 and subsequently decided to sell it as the Lexus IS (Intelligent Sport) in Europe and North America, their idea was to make a capable, well rounded sport sedan that would offer sharper driving dynamics than the rest of the softly sprung executive sedans that were for sale in the Lexus range. What they got in the Altezza was a highly adept sport sedan that now has a cult following in many parts of the world.
The Altezza is truly a thing of beauty. Taut proportions, wheels placed at extremities, bulging bodywork in all the right places and sleek lines running front to back, the Tezza is hands down one of the best looking sedans to have come out at the turn of the century. It's also a highly significant design, since it existed only for a brief time in the late 90's and early 00's before the Altezza was replaced by fatter, heavier, uglier designs that eventually became the standard.
Shafiee Rahman, professional gamer, racing simulation geek and the owner of this pristine white Altezza, is relatively new to the car scene – his brother used to drive an RX8 and Shafiee was generally interested in cars, but he wasn't what you'd call a full-bored petrolhead. Till he got a taste of a machine as well engineered as the RS200 Altezza, anyway.
The RS200 comes with a 3SGE BEAMS 4 cylinder motor from the factory. Utilising a dual VVT-I system on both intake and exhaust camshafts, the fifth and final generation of the 3SGE had an output of 197 BHP/160 lb-ft torque if paired to the 5-speed auto and 207 BHP/160 lb-ft torque if hooked up to the 6-speed manual transmission. While the 3SGE is a gem of an engine (albeit a bit underpowered) with brilliant naturally aspirated response, fans of the Altezza rave on and on about how balanced, poised and fun the chassis is.
Shafiee knows a thing or two about chassis dynamics – spending countless hours on racing simulations like Project Cars and Forza Motorsport, he's mastered countless corners on the most well-known tracks around the world behind his Logitech G25 gaming wheel. The transition from simulation to reality takes more effort, obviously, but so far, Shafiee is happy with the way his Tezza handles. The front strut bar, lowering springs and the slight rake helps, although Shafiee has ordered coilover suspension, which will go on soon enough.
This Altezza is completely clean – custom headlights and taillights, TRD kit, custom wing and a few details here and there, the Tezza is as fresh as it was from the factory. With only about 35,000 km's on the clock, it's a low mileage example as well. Everything on the car works – the sleek lines, the wheels, the stance and the brilliant white paintjob – the sheer presence this beauty is palpable. An Altezza, done right.
Photos and video editing/filimg: Rahin Sadman Islam
Words and video direction: Shaer Reaz