1/5/2012—If you want advice on handling jetlag, or any other long-haul travel tips, you could do worse than ask the chief engineer of the new GS, Yoshihiko Kanamori.
Over four years, he traveled the world in an effort to understand the driving conditions faced by car enthusiasts of different nationalities. All in all, Kanamori and his team racked up more than 600,000 miles in the current model and the pre-production car.
“In Japan, the working principle is called genchi genbutsu, or ‘go and see,’ and it’s about discovering first-hand what the situation is and how to respond,” Kanamori says. “I personally drove the GS in the U.S. as well as in Western and Eastern Europe, where the roads can be harsh.”
Testing was, indeed, intensive. No speed limits on the German autobahn allowed Kanamori to get a strong feel for straight-line stability, high-speed lane changes, and steering precision; the team also explored urban challenges in L.A. and the extreme heat of Death Valley.
And then there were the roads outside Moscow, where Kanamori and his team drove the GS on pot-holed and rutted surfaces, ice, and snow.
“We had never carried out any development tests in Russia before, but it was important to do so,” Kanamori says. “We weren’t really sure what the official process was when it came to approvals. Luckily our dealer out there knew someone in the police force who was happy to sit in the car with us, so our tests were essentially performed with a personal police escort. The local police forces had never seen this kind of thing before.”
His colleague, Lexus Drive Meister Yoshiaki Ito, has another story about responding to the unpredictable, this time in Japan. “For a while after the terrible earthquake in March, we had no power on our circuits, so we had no floodlighting for testing when the nights drew in. But that didn’t stop us. We used the headlamps on other cars to give us light. It wasn’t perfect, but we carried on in semi, occasionally total, darkness.”