Altezza RS200 – Japan’s Overlooked Sports Sedan
While history celebrates Toyota’s Supra and MR2 sports cars, few realize their Altezza RS200 sedan beat both icons around Japan’s revered Nurburgring track at launch. Developed to inject pulse-pounding excitement into the entry-level luxury segment in 1998, this stealthy four-door packed a high-winding 2.0-liter straight six engine driving the rear wheels via advanced suspension technologies. Dressed in subtle business attire, Toyota hand-built their overlooked giant killer packing giant-slaying potential.
Rowdy Inline-6 Heart with Smooth High-RPM Power
Mounting an all-alloy mill longitudinally north-south enabled engineers to use equal-length intake plumbing for optimal airflow. Coupled with Variable Valve Timing intelligence this free-breathing powerplant produced over 200 horsepower while spinning eagerly toward an 8,400 rpm redline. Whipping the needle around the circular tachometer brings a mechanical crescendo as the 3S-GE’s perfectly balanced internals hit full stride. Merge lanes reveal usable midrange too thanks to VVT tuning the valves for punchy low-end response before unleashing maximum horses up top.
Sophisticated Chassis Technology Reins Road Manners
Harnessing those inline-six urges falls upon some of Toyota’s most advanced suspension hardware of the 1990s. Outfitted exclusively with a manual gearbox, the Altezza RS200 employs a torque-sensing limited slip differential to rocket from corners precisely. A computer-controlled TEMS ride system instantly firms the remote-reservoir shocks during aggressive maneuvers keeping body motions taut.
By profile, the RS200’s conservative styling avoids flared arches or wings to fly stealthily under the radar. Only quad-polished exhaust pipes hint at focused performance talents concealed beneath until the vanilla sedan transforms into a track weapon at speed.
Wolf in Sheep’s Altezza RS200 Clothing Thrills
While rivals trumpeted acceleration claims or lap records, benchmarks mattered little for Toyota’s Q-ship sports sedan. By matching the 201 horsepower Supra sports car around Germany’s legendary Nurburgring circuit, the unassuming Altezza RS200 proved its legit performance chops discreetly.
Advanced grip technologies like a helical front LSD, torque vectoring, and multi-link IRS suspension innovations handle the RS200’s outputs precisely without sacrificing long-distance comfort like period BMW M3s. Sophisticated and smooth, this forgotten wolf in sheep’s clothing embodied Toyota’s peak in balancing daily-driving sophistication with accessible rear-drive excitement just before the 2000s rice rocket movement gained steam.
Altezza RS200 Overshadowed No More
Thanks to a cult-like JDM fan following, mint Altezza RS200 examples now gain worldwide recognition for this sedan’s giant-slaying capabilities hiding behind conservative styling.
As 1990’s Japanese performance coupes approach stratospheric valuations, the slept-on RS200 now attracts newcomers through a formula blending bespoke high-revving power with four-door practicality and advanced chassis control technologies proving Toyota’s sports sedan brilliance.