When the Lexus IS 300 sedan was introduced as a 2001 model, it became the first real sports sedan in the Lexus fleet. Targeted toward a younger audience, this sporty car with slick skin and high-tech appointments carries the Lexus badge that's normally associated with a luxurious ride, but it behaves like a road-hugging German touring car. With rear-wheel drive, best-in-class horsepower, and five-speed automatic with manual shifting, it offers a compelling alternative to the benchmark BMW 3 Series. For 2002, the IS 300 SportCross has been added to the line. It's a five-door hatchback, intended for that same young audience but broadening to include jocks in addition to well-heeled geeks and gearheads. Lexus says the SportCross appeals to a "much younger" crowd, and the company jumps through hoops to avoid the words "five-door" or "hatchback" because those words suggest entry level. So the SportCross is officially a 4+1-door. Fortunately, the car isn't as awkward as its tag. In fact, it is anything but awkward. The IS 300 uses Lexus's sophisticated, 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine, renowned for its smoothness. It produces 215 horsepower on recommended 91-octane fuel. Like the IS 300 sedan, the SportCross uses a five-speed manual automatic transmission with racy shifting via buttons on the steering wheel in the manual mode. Also new for 2002, is a five-speed manual gearbox for the sedan.