Test driver

Trust your senses.

By Alex Taylor III, Fortune senior editor

(FORTUNE Magazine) -- YUKIHIRO YAMAZAKI, chief Lexus GS technician for dynamic evaluation, Toyota

Toyota has thousands of engineers who use precision instruments to measure a vehicle's performance. Yukihiro Yamazaki is the only one who uses his senses instead. He's known as the "Meister." "The key to performing my job well," he says, "is what we call genchi genbutsu: being able to take action by feeling the product itself. I use four of my five senses to evaluate the car." To wit:

Sight: I observe everything - the overall tone of the car, its shape and color, whether everything matches. I look out for anything that may look unusual.

Sound: I listen for any kind of out-of-place noise, such as a ticking, that might indicate the presence of a mechanical or assembly problem.

Smell: I study the scent of the leather seats, air from the air conditioning, the exhaust gas - and try to detect any anomalies.

Touch: I feel the interior and exterior of the car - the contour of the sheet metal, the action of the buttons and switches. When I'm driving, I use my entire body to feel the road and other vibrations.  Top of page