ENHANCING THE LEXUS IS

A few quick questions for Chief Engineer Junichi Furuyama—the mastermind behind the redesigned Lexus IS sport sedan.

01/31/2013—A few weeks ago, Lexus revealed the 2014 Lexus IS at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and IS Chief Engineer Junichi Furuyama was there to see the launch of his latest creation—as well as tell Lexus Enthusiast editor Kevin Watts about his next-generation Lexus sports sedan:

Watts: First of all, how did the LFA influence the development of the IS?

Furuyama: While the LFA was being developed, we spent long hours test-driving on German and Japanese speed circuits. From there, we were able to collect information and gain insight on what it takes to make a car safe and fun to drive, the kind of things we wanted to do with the IS. With all that experience, we have lots of valuable new findings and understanding, and that information was very helpful in terms of developing the new IS.

What were the key improvements you wanted to make with the 2014 IS?

We set out to provide dynamic performance while increasing rear comfort and space. To showcase dynamic performance, we tried to increase the agility and make sure the car has a quick and accurate response to driver input. In order to achieve this, we had to increase the body rigidity. We used new laser welding technology and extensive use of adhesives in the manufacturing process to increase overall stability when the car is in motion.

Can you tell us about some key differences between the 2014 IS and the 2014 IS F SPORT?

In terms of the exterior, the grille, front bumper, and wheel design are all different. Inside the IS F SPORT, there are sport-styled seats and an exclusive trim. The big difference, though, is the instrument panel. For the speedometer, we utilized the moving dial design that comes from the LFA.

As for performance, the engine and transmission are the same in the standard IS and IS F SPORT editions. For the IS 350 F SPORT, we did additional sports tuning to the suspension, adding SPORT S+ mode as a fourth setting to the Drive Mode Select. When you turn the dial to SPORT S+ mode, the adaptive variable suspension can give the feel of a sports car.

Final question: Was it a challenge to balance the luxury experience with the stronger performance?

At the first stage of development, we focused exclusively on creating a fun-to-drive car. For that purpose, we almost decided to forget about everything else. Once we were able to achieve greater body rigidity, we achieved some wiggle-room to find the balance between luxury and performance.

First inset photo by Kevin Watts

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