Imagine a road course that duplicates every possible kind of on-road scenario in the world. One that has every type of corner radius, every conceivable bank angle, and every kind of elevation change that you can possibly encounter when behind the steering wheel. A road where vertical changes are so severe and abrupt that finding the proper suspension damping setting is critical. In a place like this, the stability and handling of a car would be put to the test.
One such course already exists, and it is the historic Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany—an automotive Mecca where manufacturers test their newest performance models. Lexus is no stranger to the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The company has developed a number of its iconic models on that hallowed road course—and it has even raced there. This is proof that Lexus continues to intensify its dedication toward building ever-better cars by honing them thoroughly under exacting driving environments.
The creation of the all-new Lexus IS is no different, except this time, the model was bred on a test track that Lexus calls its own. Based on in-depth testing and racing experience on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, which is famous throughout the world for its gruelling driving conditions, Lexus has designed its own challenging test course in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture that takes advantage of local topography and features a roughly 75-meter change in elevation between its highest and lowest points—as well as a wide range of curves and corners. This is the Shimoyama Technical Center Test Track—where the Lexus IS was born. Modelled after the Nürburgring, this test course is evidence of the company’s passion for performance.
The new Lexus IS is the first Lexus model that was born and bred at the Shimoyama Technical Center Test Track—where the toughest and most challenging roads in the world have been recreated.
“With the aim of making ever-better cars, we have continued to make various efforts in “feeling the road” and “conversing with cars” through driving tests around the world, including our Five Continent Drive Project and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race,” said Lexus Master Driver Akio Toyoda. “Based on such experiences, we have replicated a variety of roads in the world at the new test course. In addition to conducting driving tests all over the world, and with the replication of severe driving conditions at the new test course, we intend to thoroughly hone every one of our models and develop the types of cars that epitomize the true joy of driving.” The Lexus IS is the very first of these cars to emerge from the Shimoyama Test Track.
Utilizing the demanding road course, every performance aspect of the IS was finely tuned, from the engine, transmission, chassis, suspension, and safety systems. The F Sport variant has a 300hp, 380Nm naturally-aspirated V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, while the IS 300h is powered by a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder hybrid power plant mated to a Lexus E-CVT intelligent transmission. The new IS comes with the LSS+2—a suite of the latest Active Safety features—such as the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracing Assist, and the Automatic High Beam. The F Sport model comes equipped with the upgraded Pre-Collision system which detects oncoming vehicles and pedestrians, even when turning left or right at intersections.
When the engineering, development, and design is powered by passion—as is the case with the new Lexus IS—the path toward reaching new horizons and constant improvement is made even clearer. This instills confidence in the driver and gives him full control on the straight paths and total precision through even the sharpest turns. It is the perfect sport sedan for driven individuals like Filipino pro golfer Miguel Tabuena. It’s no surprise why he is also the brand ambassador of the Lexus IS.
When the Shimoyama Test Track becomes fully operational, it will employ 3,000 personnel. However, even during the recent development of the new IS model, 50 test drivers have already made the technical center their second home. It is obvious that the passion to build better cars has led to the creation of this unique road course, which in turn has helped sharpen the IS into the finely tuned driving instrument that it is.
This is the spirit of ‘omotenashi’, where a customer’s needs have been anticipated long before they realize it themselves. That is the kind of hospitality that you would only expect from Lexus. Experience it for yourself with the new IS sport sedan.