The Toyota Altezza is a mid sized executive saloon car, first manufactured in the latter part of 1998, sporting a choice of two 2.0-litre engines, the 'inline-6' cylinder 1G-FE in the AS200 model and the 'inline-4' cylinder 3S-GE dual vvti in the RS200 model. Both are BEAMs VVTi engines and both models are rear wheel drive.
Produced as a direct competitor to the European class leaders from BMW and Mercedes in the mid sized executive class it compares very favourably.
On its release in 1998 the car won the Japanese "Car of the Year Award" for 1998-1999, the following year it was a winner in 'Automobilia Magazines' "Worlds Most Beautiful Car Award".
The philosophy behind the range, which was created by Nobuaki Katayama the Chief Engineer of the Altezza project, was that while most luxury sedans are easy to drive, few were fun, the Altezza set out to change that.
Katayama, is a former racing driver, who developed his design rationale during four years working for Toyota's successful motorsport division on World Rally Championship and Le Mans programmes. He set out to make the driver feel more involved, more in control and to bring back the enjoyment of driving.
"The Altezza has a very strong identity" said Mr. Katayama. "The car is different - and expresses the personality of the confident, independent individuals who drive it. The identity and the handling are the strong points of the original Altezza, and we knew that we couldn't dilute those for the sake of more space or extra power, so all through the development, we were very hard on ourselves, making sure that none of the alterations interfered with the balance that we managed to strike with the original car 2 years ago."
"The cars have very good responses, drivers can enjoy ? and feel the difference from their previous cars" said Mr. Katayama. "In addition, the 'crossover concept' of the SportCross introduces a new concept, offering enhanced levels of versatility without compromising handling or dynamics, thanks to outstanding weight distribution and torsional rigidity."