Despite strong sales, Lexus is undergoing a transition; the luxury arm of Toyota is aspiring to become more emotional and aggressive. On the latest Downshift, chief engineer of the 2014 Lexus IS, Junichi Furuyama, brings to life the development of the automaker’s compact sports sedan. Tasked with creating a car that can rival—and overtake—the BMW 3 Series, Furuyama said the old Lexus IS was not as fun to drive as the competition.
The first thing his team set out to do was drive the competition and analyze what made those cars so appealing. After driving the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Furuyama admits those cars “were actually a few steps ahead of us.” Tested on the Higashifuji test track, the team analyzed steering feel, brake feel, and speed sensation at each corner. And while they looked to improve driving dynamics, aesthetics didn’t necessarily take a backseat in the development process. Lexus’ chief engineer for the IS says the new design philosophy, “L-Finesse,” was considered throughout. The new spindle grille seen on the 2013 Lexus GS was one symbol of this, and the new Lexus IS adopted it to further create a recognizable symbol with the brand.
We saw the new Lexus IS firsthand in Detroit at the 2013 North American International Auto Show, and while we had varying opinions, we were generally intrigued. You can see more of the Lexus IS chief engineer’s commentary in the Downshift episode below.
Source: The Downshift via YouTube