Who Determines the Driving Feel of a Toyota? Dissecting the Advanced Technical Skills Institute Division


This article, the first in a series of articles looking at how the driving feel of Toyota is created, offers a sneak peek inside a key facility for making ever-better cars.

The differences between test drivers and race drivers

Osaka explained what Toyota emphasizes in training its test drivers. As master driver, Hiromu Naruse defined the test driver’s skills as the ability to “do, understand, and tell.”


To “do” means being able to drive reliably under the required conditions—the ability to demonstrate a car’s full performance and reproduce the same phenomenon time and again.

To “understand” is to comprehend a car’s mechanisms and to know why a certain phenomenon occurs, and whether it is caused by the suspension, body stiffness, or tires.

To “tell” means being able to verbalize precisely what is happening, along with the causes and fixes, to engineers and other relevant departments.

Alongside their driving skills, testers must have the ability to pick up the car’s subtle signs of pleasure or pain, and to provide accurate feedback to engineers.

Out on the test course, Yabuki focuses his entire body on sensing the phenomena occurring in the vehicle.

Yabuki added to Osaka’s comments.


Fast lap times do not make you an outstanding test driver.

I think the most important thing for a test driver is the resourcefulness and sensibility to remain composed and diligently engage in making ever-better cars under any circumstances. Safety must always be on your mind, and wrecking the car is never an option.

We hope to foster resourceful individuals capable of safely bringing out a car’s full performance.

The mention of lap times segued nicely into a discussion of the differences between test and race drivers.

Having competed in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and other races as drivers, for both Yabuki and Osaka this should be a familiar topic.


In terms of having the skill to put a vehicle through its paces and to convey what happens, both test drivers and race drivers are similar.

Race drivers test cars by pushing them beyond their limits, whereas test drivers draw out every ounce of a car’s performance and offer solutions. I think that’s the difference in their roles.

For now, let’s leave it there. Next time, we’ll hear about the sensory world of driving “feel.”

The test drivers will share the essence of their work, venturing into territory that only humans can express, as they create satisfying rides beyond the reach of even the latest digital tools. Stay tuned!