Over the weekend 20-year veteran of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno, posted a very interesting video on his automotive YouTube channel, JayLenosGarage. The video was a review of the new 2014 Lexus IS prototype, and was filmed on Japan’s Fuji Motor Speedway with Lexus’ Chief Engineer, Junichi Furuyama.
In the video, which you can find at the bottom of this page, we get to see Leno grill a stone-faced Furuyama for confirmation of the new Lexus’ specifications. Of course, in typical Japanese-style Furuyama is completely unfazed by Leno’s persistent questions. In fact, throughout the video the prototype is tightly camouflaged to keep its re-designed exterior from catching even one ray of sunshine. The only part of the car that we get to see clearly is the interior while Jay is pushing the sports car to its limits on the racetrack.
Jay Leno’s video may have been uploaded to his YouTube channel last Friday, but the video was actually filmed late September when he test drove the Lexus LFA Spyder at the same Fuji Motor Speedway. This is probably why Furuyama was so tight-lipped about the Lexus IS’s specifications. Just last week he was much more expressive when the folks over at Autoblog were test driving the same vehicle.
I’d like to draw your attention to one specific section of the video during Jay Leno’s test drive as it really is a good insight: He says, “I kind of see why they call this their BMW fighter, because when I was getting interested in cars Germany was always the standard, and everybody tried to beat or match it. This feels extremely German in its handling; an extremely powerful engine, eight speed transmission, and it handles very nice.”
After the test drive by the folks over at Autoblog, we know without a doubt that Lexus wants the IS to be its contender for the BMW 3-Series. Furuyama specifically said to Autoblog that he wanted the Lexus IS to be “the most fun to drive in the segment”. Since the BMW 3-Series is so popular because of its responsive performance, it makes sense that this is Lexus’ chief goal.
To make the Lexus IS a legitimate competitor to the BMW 3-Series, Furuyama says they focused on three core areas of improvement, “body and suspension, driver environment and powertrain”. From what we can tell, the chassis in particular has seen vast improvements with significantly more rigidity. Apparently the car feels very sturdy when taking tight curves, like it was carefully tuned to withstand high performance; Leno says, “it doesn’t lean, it doesn’t roll, nothing flexes.”
It’s hard to tell whether or not the Lexus IS will be able to take a bite out of the endless accolades surrounding the BMW 3-Series, but Lexus is definitely trying and the IS will definitely be the car to do it. Either way, after seeing the Lexus IS prototype fly around the Fuji Motor Speedway I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t itching to get behind the wheel myself. This is definitely a Japanese car to keep your eyes open for in 2013.