REVIEWS BY IAN PAUL: 1998 Toyota Altezza (AS200) | Newslibre.com

REVIEWS BY IAN PAUL: 1998 Toyota Altezza (AS200)

Your girlfriend just left you. She says you are lazy, worthless and broke. Of course, we allow you to take offence as a human. But as an ‘honest’ human, we don’t expect you to be too outraged by the unpleasant truth.

She’s tenably a b*tch for expecting too much from you. And all this cuckoo’s nest is because you are just 25 and you’ve finally realized that life is a total sadistic b*tch. She has also finally realized that you cannot satisfactorily provide what her wild imaginations desire.

E!, Telemundo & Hollywood get most of us fooled. We expect that by 25 we will be doing respectably well in life. Nice jobs with dependable salaries, renting a decent house and driving your first socially acceptable third-hand car.

REVIEWS BY IAN PAUL: 1998 Toyota Altezza (AS200) | Newslibre.com
The Altezza was created to rival the iconic BMW E46 3 Series. | Newslibre.com

At 25 now, we all mostly know better.

Our expectations have been humbled by a salary that’s just enough for you to survive. Some of our friends are married, and whenever we meet them, we envy them for ‘settling down’ early. Until they tell us it’s not as easy as it looks on Instagram, or, the scandal that led them down that road.

The brave ones even have babies and for some of us, those are the ones we envy the most.

These are some of the things that go through my mind, as I idle in the traffic jam at Banda on my way home. This time, in a 1998 Toyota Altezza AS200.

Also Read: The Toyota Altezza Vs Subaru

A sports Sedan from the Japanese motor giant – Toyota. It’s a breed that has no deep ancestral background, except the very fascinating fact that what it really is, is a Lexus. It’s sold in some markets as the Lexus IS200. This would mean, that it sits on that luxurious build and styling by Lexus – Toyotas in-house luxurious car brand.

The Altezza was created to rival the iconic BMW E46 3 Series. I haven’t driven the E46, which I am certain is a much better car, to drive, own and to look at; but if Toyota was indeed trying to compete, they did a commendable job.

They got it right where it matters; performance and elusive beauty.

Performance-wise, it is a tamable beast. A modest jolly sedan that doesn’t look anything as impressively as it performs. When you nudge the throttle, the beast comes alive. The Beams 2.0-liter engine frees the ferocious heart of the beast and its shivers down your comfortable spine as you eat up those many kilometres per hour.

“Comfortable spine” – Sports seats. They hug you when you sit. It’s like getting a warm mushy hug from a chubby woman with a massive soft bosom – Winnie Nwagi.

REVIEWS BY IAN PAUL: 1998 Toyota Altezza (AS200) | Newslibre.com
The interior is a little cramped and frankly sort of boring | Newslibre.com

Still, on that performance, the brakes are confidently very responsive. The rush from how grounded it feels while speeding is sensational especially knowing that those red sports brakes have got your back. The best part about all this is, it gives that lunacy that had been exclusively a Subaru owner’s thing. That arrogant confidence that you have more power and torque than most of the other motorists on the road.

It is, however, a relatively low car, obviously because it’s a fast car. But I’ve scrapped its underneath one too many times to know many owners wish it had adjustable suspensions.

Nonetheless, the Altezza performs better than you’d expect. It is utterly smooth when the road agrees with the habitat the makers intended for it to reign. It grips, assuredly. And when that arrogant confidence kicks in and you bury the throttle, it just goes.

All the bits and bolts are tuned for that sports car performance. There is no noticeable frustrating lag on acceleration, it gives instant power as the rear wheel drive pushes you quickly. This makes it a very fun car to drive. Departure and arrival are experienced in perfect enjoyment.

The AS200 comes with a massive 6 Cylinder engine and 150 – 163 Horsepower depending on a couple of tuning specifications. What’s quite intriguing but should not be shocking is, the RS200, which comes with a smaller engine at 4 cylinders is actually the much faster Altezza.

Therefore if you are buying an Altezza because of its bespoke performance, the RS200 is the one to get. It even comes with a better fuel economy given the smaller engine.

But if you are not really into the speed game and you just want a rare (although it’s quite common in Kampala now), affordable, fast, comfortable sports car with subtle beauty, then the AS200 might just be the best budget sports sedan doing rounds on the Ugandan market.

REVIEWS BY IAN PAUL: 1998 Toyota Altezza (AS200) | Newslibre.com
The most outstanding would be the tail lights. Commonly known as the “Altezza lights.” | Newslibre.com

Like I described earlier, it bears elusive beauty. The Altezza isn’t the most obvious good looking car out there. It lacks that striking “love at first sight” kind of beauty. It takes some time in its presence to really soak in that design, and by the end, you notice that this is actually a very quietly pretty car. It doesn’t shout about its good looks.

The most outstanding feature would be the tail lights. Commonly known as the “Altezza lights.” It bears one of the most beautiful rear designs on a budget sports sedan. When you follow an Altezza, and the driver brakes, the glowing tail lights are a sight to behold.

In the interior, with a racy instrument cluster, aluminum pedals; seated behind the wheel you know that this is a speed machine. The interior is a little cramped and frankly sort of boring. But then you glance down and see that “lollipop” shaped chrome gearlever and you forget about a few other fancy tech accessories its rivals have.

This particular one for the review is fitted with a factory standard Sat NAV system. This normally means it is one of the top models for its edition.

As a whole, I really loved this Toyota Altezza. It performs incredibly, it is fast, and it’s beautiful, it is comfortable, that 6 Cylinder engine is gloriously powerful… it has a special place in my heart.

For the price, what you get is more than you could ask for. This is presently my favourite car in the world, and specifically this particular one. And it’s not only because of all the incredible stuff I’ve described up there, it’s largely because at 24/25 years old this 1998 Toyota Altezza AS200 is actually mine. My first socially acceptable third-hand car.

And from a petrol-heads’ standpoint, and from someone that wanted performance over anything, I am very satisfied with the Toyota Altezza. It is in its own right, an extra-ordinarily impressive performance car and one I proudly recommend.

Author: Ian Paul Byamugisha

Ian Paul Byamugisha is a writer/author/novelist and car journalist. As a writer for Newslibre, he writes car reviews, cars news, tech news and anything that one might find interesting to read. Currently working on a spy novel collection titled “Arthur Vintage.”

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