Posts tagged with "Koichi Suga"

Lexus, Costa Rica, 360 MAGAZINE, Vaughn Lowery, RXL

Lexus Milestones

By Flore Chaumont × Vaughn Lowery

Lexus celebrated their 30-year anniversary this past July; and we couldn’t escape it. We were invited on a 3-day lifestyle activation in Costa Rica, testing both their latest vehicles along side of their precursors. Since Lexus is the leading producer of luxury hybrids, their choice of hosting this event in Costa Rica was not arbitrary. Aside from lush landscapes, the island is a place where environmentally driven initiatives and technologies thrive. The country is a leading producer of hydroelectric energy, and conserving their beautiful flora and fauna is one of their top priorities.

1. Accommodation

Our hopes were high and they were remarkably met with our arrival at the magnificent Four Seasons Hotel, located in Liberia, a jewel in the countryside of Costa Rica. The luxurious property, nicely integrated into the surrounding region was mesmerizing. Modern yet rustic decorated rooms spilt out onto the beachfront as we assembled at a welcoming reception. We were treated like loyalty with excellent service, savory bites and of course, great fellowship. With a 181 rooms, fitness center (which rivaled Equinox), day spa (complete with plunge pool, steam room and hot tub) and private beach, many of us were tempted to stay longer within the 1,400 acres of utter bliss. There was so much to explore via a biking excursion or a simple hike into neighboring jungles.

2. History of Lexus

During the conference, we learned about the history of Lexus; and their product line from 1989 to present. With the use of VR, we were teleported in time to when Toyota arrived in the US. In 1984, they launched the Circle F Project with the aim of releasing a luxury car. The challenge was to change America’s perception of the marque. For this project, Chief Engineer Ichiro Suzuki sets aggressive goals which will define the brand’s strategy and excellence down the route. With over 1400 engineers involved and 400 prototypes later, the Lexus LS was born. A sedan unlike any other. The name, originally Alexis, became Lexus, and the logo came to become this symbol of beauty and perfection with a succession of exceptional cars to accompany.

3. Meeting with Executives

We also got the privilege to sit down and shoot the breeze with some of the senior level executives of Lexus. Koichi Suga, General Manager of Lexus Design, explained to us his inspiration for adding the concierge and driver refresh, he maintains, “Our vision is human centered: what the customer wants, while focusing on our distinctive culture and heritage.” Indeed, the driver refreshes function is an imitation of shiatsu massage, and it was also our favorite feature in this newly reintroduced full-size flagship. In a discussion with Koji Sato, Vice President of Lexus International Products & Engineering, we were informed that the brand expects to issue its first EV by 2025. And he gave tongue to what gives the sedan a long-term advantage over SUV models. He states, “I think the sedan is more formal, more stylish, with a low center of gravity that provides a more emotional feel.”

4. Vehicle Drives

After being fascinated with the history of Lexus, we got to take a glimpse of and even test drive a few. The incredible LFA was on display and the RC F Sport (f/ in Men in Black: International) were definitely crowd favorites. We test drove three of their models: the LS 500h; RXL (new RX w/ third row seating) and LC 500h. The LS literally made us feel like a royal family. The sleek design, alongside a more pronounced spindle grill and a ton of driver/passenger amenities made the interior feel like nirvana. The RXL possesses a 4.4 inch longer wheel base than RX, now seats 7 and has been refined to exaggerate masculinity. Lastly, the LC 500h, spotlighted in the critically acclaimed Black Panther, was simply sublime, from its paw-like exterior to the silky ride it offers. The peaceful drive along windy roads near the rain forests was almost mysterious.

5. Adventure

On our final day, we drove to the Diamante Eco Adventure Park which is home to one of the highest zip lines in the world – approximately 80 stories high and 1 mile long from one side to the other. We strapped into the renowned Superman, headfirst while facing forward on our bellies. Within, 45 seconds or less we were tailed and ready to retrieve our rides.

In short, Lexus created an atmosphere which showcased creativity, confidence and courage. Everything was exemplified through their leaders, bold design and humanity. Here’s to another 30 years!!!

Lexus ES, Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE, Seabrite Beach, NJ

Lexus ES 350 F Sport

By Flore Chaumont × Vaughn Lowery

Lexus just released their new ES 350 and it’s now available in over 90 countries. The entire skeleton and skin of the previous Lexus ES has been redefined to attract a broader audience – scoot over empty nesters. Coupled with its F Sport package, the new Lexus ES is destined to attract a much more youthful and active generation. So, we decided to take it on an impromptu road trip from Manhattan to Maryland and all the hot spots in between during this summer’s blistering heat wave.

Koichi Suga, General Manager of Lexus Design Division, describes it as the most aggressive change for the emblematic ES. And indeed it is, the car now comes across as being more boisterous and bold. From the outside, the car has distinctive features which are unique to the F Sport trim. The 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, the dual integrated exhaust outlet, the F Sport badging as well as the low hoodline and long shoulders really make this car appear track ready. The inside reveals the same vibe, with aluminum pedals, Hadori sword wave-patterned aluminum appointments, red double stitching and red race-inspired interior seats. The 3.5L V6 24 Valve DOHC engine produces 302 hp and 287 lb-ft torque. Although it’s front-wheel drive, engineers managed to capture the emotional response of driving a rear-wheel drive vehicle. And, with 25 mpg (combined city/hwy), you can spend more time driving and less time at the pump.

Lexus has been traditionally known for the quietness of their ride. With active noise deadening technology and sound insulating wheels (which absorbs impact and vibration on the tires), the car is extremely silent, even while in sports mode. However, for the diehard car enthusiasts, there’s a setting to amplify exhaust notes. Overall, the drive is orgasmic; and one can easily cruise in it for long periods of time, feeling comfortable and pampered with ventilated heat/cool front seats. We practically lived inside the cabin when temperatures reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, this year’s extra two inches of wheelbase allows backseat passengers to have additional legroom.

At $44,635, one would expect a manufacturer to sacrifice quality during the fabrication process. Contrary to one’s expectations, most materials used feel supple and soft, from the steering wheel to the dashboard. There are also three different types of woods incorporated in the overall interior design, including a matt bamboo finish, a nod to Japanese culture and heritage. An apparent step forward from its predecessor which was full of peeling plastics.

In addition, the car is well-equipped with innovative technology. The ES features a an animated gage cluster, a trackpad with tactile sensors as well as a sleeker instrument board. Tech savy drivers will be pleased to pair it with Apple CarPlay, Siri Eyes Free or Google Voice CTRL. Our favorite is Lexus Enform which is an intuitive system that allows you to speak to a live agent to obtain an address and have it sent directly to your vehicle’s infotainment system. The representatives are accessible 24/7 and help you stay alert if you succumb to driver’s fatigue while on a lengthy trip. This came in handy while we were in traffic or already in route to a location. Not to mention, all the safety technology is standard: blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane departure assist.

In short, the all-new 2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport has a bodacious body that contantly turns heads and a 10-speaker Lexus premium sound system to make them nod.

Experience amazing.