Hiromu Naruse on the First-Gen Lexus IS Development

Naruse on the Toyota Altezza

Stumbled on an insightful speech given by the late Hiromu Naruse, Master Test Driver of Toyota, at a Toyota Altezza/Lexus IS 300 owners event at the Fuji Speedway in 2007 — here are some direct quotes that detail his part in the car’s development:

After enhancing the rigidity, I test drove 2,000 km for two days, all by myself in Nurburgring, having the bad road surface conditions and many ups and downs. Because of the test, I lost 4kg. (Laugh.) But I could find many shortcomings such as the body rigidity, underbody problems, etc.

While I enhanced the rigidity, springs and shock absorbers and did some readjustments, I tried the 20,000km test for two weeks.

…I took the car to the autobahn (highways in Germany, some have no speed limit), and drove it at full throttle. Then, the car jumped up and down due to the gap on the road conditions between the circuit and the autobahn. Once again, I had to go back for the development of springs and shock absorbers. I did another full-throttle test on the mountain roads in France by over 200km/hr while I tested the drift performance by 180km/hr in the middle of winter in Hokkaido.”

2,000km (1,242 miles) over two days on the Nürburgring is one thing, but an average of 1,428km (887 miles) every day for two weeks staggers the mind, and only serves to highlight Naruse’s pure dedication to Toyota.

(I certainly recommend reading the full transcript — makes me want to track down a first-gen IS.)

[Source: Gazoo Racing]


  1. I happen to own an IS. While it might not be the best place to be for a long drive, nor have the luxuries appointments one comes to expect from a Lexus, it certainly drives very well, much more of a sharper car than the 2gen IS range
  2. amazing man living an amazing life The first-gen IS certainly was a car that made me think... "That's a Lexus?!" It reminded me that Toyota has a great racing pedigree. Great man living an amazing life...
  3. LOL Jeremy Clarkson is trying to lose weight in his Italian Job video by racing around in amazing supercars!
  4. I wish somebody would write a book on the life and career of Naruse. As for the 1st generation IS,I wish Lexus would make a car like that again.Less pampering more racy.Preferably a two-door coupé.
  5. Krew, I wonder where you "stumbled" upon this! was it my.is?!
  6. I like the "hard lines" of the 1IS compared to the bulky, round 2IS. I like the 2011 IS F-Sport though so I'm planning on getting one of those but I still miss the first-gen IS!
  7. I think a lot of people would like to see some sort of spiritual successor to the first IS. The second gen. is terrific,but a much more mature car.The MKI had a,for want of a better word,"rascally" quality to it that many found very charming.
  8. TeamLexusIS300 wrote:Krew, I wonder where you “stumbled” upon this! was it my.is?!
    Not really sure, or I would have linked to the source. I think I found it searching through Google Images. :-)
  9. LOVE my 1st gen. IS! wont give it up for anything...especially after reading this. My next ride is to be a 2011 ISF and i am sure to enjoy it as much, if not more than its predecessor but it wont have the same history.
  10. Dedication, Passionate Pursuit of Perfection. We will sorely miss Naruse sans presence and wisdom in Toyota/Lexus for period of time. Finding a successor that embodied Naruse's ideology is critical. I sure hope Akio, is working hard to find that man/woman.