OYAMA, Japan — I could feel the blood draining from my head as soon as we banked a hard right into curve one, my crash helmet clattering against the window.
For the rest of the bone-jarring 15 bends, my fists, not to mention jaws, remained irreversibly clenched.
Thrashing riders through the curves of Fuji Speedway, the site of last month's Japanese Grand Prix, may be an unorthodox way to launch a car. But unorthodox is exactly what Lexus wanted when it unveiled the IS-F at the base of Mount Fuji.
“The thing we are lacking in the United States is the emotional offering,” Lexus chief Takeshi Yoshida said here at the media event. “We hope this car achieves it.”
The 5.0-liter V-8 sedan is the first F in the Lexus lineup. F is Toyota's high-performance answer to the Mercedes AMG family and BMW's M.
The IS-F heads to Japanese dealers Dec. 25 and arrives in the United States and Europe in February or March, Yoshida said. Lexus sees global sales at 7,000 units next year, including about 5,500 in America.
Yoshida won't talk about U.S. pricing. In Japan, the IS-F starts at 7.66 million ($66,000).
During the last week's test rides, professional performance drivers pushed the car to its limits on the Formula One course — with journalists, outfitted with crash helmets, onboard.
Speeds reached 149 mph, but the car still felt as if it was coasting.
Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda and himself an avid racer, also was on hand. He wore a black full-body racing suit with his name stitched on the belt.