Lexus will officially unveil its all-new 2014 IS sedan at next month’s Detroit Auto Show, but the automaker has allowed a few high-profile media outlets to sample its wares in advance. Jay Leno received a ticket to Japan, where he had the opportunity to drive the 2014 Lexus IS 350 at Fuji Motor Speedway.

Lexus’ chief engineer for the IS, Fu Yama, was on hand to field questions about the car. In typical Japanese form, he was careful not to reveal too much about the new IS models prior to their debut. We know that four models are planned, including the IS 250, the IS 300h, the IS 350 and the IS F Sport, and it’s clear that Yama was happy with the result of his efforts.

As Leno points out, the new IS models get a longer wheelbase and a more rigid chassis. The goal is to improve the IS’ handling to better compete with the new BMW 3 Series, without sacrificing the ride comfort that Lexus is known for. Leno looks impressed with the car’s behavior, so we’d guess the automaker has done a good job here.

Most IS models will get Lexus’ eight-speed automatic transmission, though the 300h hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission to maximize fuel economy. The 306 horsepower Leno references applies to IS 350 models, which will also come in the enthusiast-oriented F Sport version.