For Dr Greg Story, an attraction of living and working in Japan is the country’s love of design and mindfulness of the customer’s experience.
As country president of a global firm providing human resources training, Story has a keen appreciation for the Japanese work ethic. A long-term, bilingual resident in Tokyo, and a practitioner of Japanese martial arts since childhood, he also has a strong sense of Japanese style and craft.
But even he was impressed when he came face to face with the Lexus IS200t F Sport, a four-door sports sedan.
With an aggressive stance and dramatic lines sweeping from end to end, the IS200t (Turbo) raises eyebrows and causes the observer to catch their breath.
“I know Lexus is a high-end brand”, Story said. “And I have driven the company’s models before, so I have very high expectations. But this is pretty cool. When you sit down, the car adjusts the seat for you. It feels sporty simply from the way they arranged the seat, the narrower cabin and the steering wheel”.
Starting out from Tokyo’s Aoyama-itchome district, Story rolled into bustling traffic, heading toward the government district of Kasumigaseki and the shopping mecca of Ginza.
“The stitched red leather interior is very flash, while the dashboard—with its silver tones—looks very modern”, he said, running his hand along the sporty wheel of the IS.
With hand-made Japanese wood trim, hand-stitched leather finishing, and low-set leather sports seats, the IS200t is the epitome of Japanese design.
“The interior is not just utilitarian, it’s beautiful. You can tell they’ve gone to a lot of care”, he added.
What’s more, the sports sedan provides an amazing driving experience: a lightning-fast transmission and powerful engine provides an incredible 241 horsepower. The IS200t can do zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.9 seconds.
“The take up is pretty smooth”, said Story, smiling.
With traffic getting heavier, he changed lanes and entered a tight turn. In the mid-distance, the majestic gardens of the Imperial Palace were resplendent in the morning sun.
“I find that we are quite a bit lower to the ground, compared with the German car that I’m used to driving, so you have a bit more feel with the Lexus. There’s a lot more interaction between road and driver”, he said.
“And the turning circle is quite tight compared with my usual car, which is a bit big and not this easy to manoeuvre”.
The IS200t’s Adaptive Variable Suspension and Variable Gear–Ratio Steering are designed to connect driver and road.
Moreover, the Drive Mode Select console allows the driver to choose between the fuel-efficient Eco mode, the everyday Push Normal setting, and the Sport S/S+ selection. Whether you are driving in open country or on city roads, commuting to work, or out on a frolic, the driving experience is augmented by design.
Rather than a daily commuter, Story sees himself more as a weekend driver who loves to head up country. “I’d take the IS200t up to the Okuchichibu Mountains of Kanto, or the tourist hot-spots of Atami, Hakone or Nagano Prefecture”, he said.
Back at base, Story is as excited about the Lexus as he was before the test drive began: “I think the appointments of the car are very good; it is well thought through. [Lexus] are aiming for the high-end market, and are achieving it. So if you are after a sports model, this would be a good car to try out”.
In 2013, when the Lexus marketing team released the first video in its Amazing in Motion series, many people—including internal sales staff and dealers—asked why the firm wasn’t doing more product-based advertising.
Since the appearance of the fourth video, Slide, which attracted nearly 40mn views online, people have stopped asking such questions. Lexus created its own hoverboard for Slide, which shows skateboarders, sometimes unsuccessfully, riding and doing tricks on the futuristic board.
Amazing things happen when technology meets imagination. Atsushi Takada, general manager of the Lexus Brand Management division, believes the Lexus product line, at its core, is a manifestation of this idea.
“We are more than an automobile company; we are a luxury auto company. Sometimes we need to focus on the luxury aspect of our brand”.
INTERSECT, a lifestyle café in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district, appeals to luxury-minded target consumers. Takada describes the space as similar to a Lexus customer’s house: the kitchen (café) and garage are where you would invite a guest to chat over coffee or maybe discuss your car. Then you might move upstairs to the lounge (bistro) for more extended visits.
On the second floor, INTERSECT offers table and sofa seating as well as an area showcasing Crafted For Lexus apparel and accessories, items designed for sale by the brand. A Lexus car model is often on display downstairs.
“When I asked the designer of INTERSECT to create a space without a car, he was really surprised”, Takada said.
Thoughtful elements such as the bamboo spindles adorning the windows, and the whitewashed “parts wall” lining the staircase, reflect actual Lexus features.
“What I really wish, is for customers to visit INTERSECT, to experience the Lexus lifestyle”, Takada added.
Discover the Lexus driving experience at International Gallery Aoyama; explore the Lexus lifestyle at INTERSECT BY LEXUS.
■ LEXUS International Gallery Aoyama
Address 2-5-8 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel 03-5786-2711 » See more
■ INTERSECT BY LEXUS-TOKYO
Address 4-21-26 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel 03-6447-1540 »See more