There’s article hardly awe-inspiring about this scene. We are about to drive the alarming 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife clue in Germany. In a Lexus. Okay, it’s the alien LFA, a Ferrari-fighting supercar that will bulk about $350,000. But the aggregation congenital its acceptability on smooth, refined, and altogether nerve-calming cars, so why does the LFA exist? In what alongside cosmos is this affair accidentally Lexus-like?
Lexus claims assorted justifications for the LFA program. The car, it says, casts a aura over the Lexus F band of achievement machines. It’s additionally a way for Toyota to analyze new technologies, decidedly carbon-fiber construction. And aback Lexus says it will be careful about whom it will advertise to—car collectors and high-profile individuals who use the car rather than esplanade it—the LFA should accession the cachet of the cast as a whole.
For all that business happy-talk, the 2012 LFA is a austere outlier in the Lexus calendar and has had a bizarre gestation. The affairs started in 2000, and Lexus showed the aboriginal abstraction car at the Detroit auto actualization in 2005. Next, a convertible adaptation appeared at Detroit in 2008, admitting it has aback been canceled. In the interim, LFA prototypes were spotted testing at the Nordschleife, and further, two race-prepared cars entered the 24-hour chase at the Nürburgring in 2008 and 2009. But until now, the aggregation hasn’t said annihilation about assembly intent. Lexus is assuredly accessible to accept that a bald 500 will be made, with assembly starting in December 2010.
Although the car is abundantly expensive, Lexus says it will lose money on every one. We accept it. The aftermost car that congenital a agnate akin of technology, performance, and exclusivity was the $650,000 Ferrari Enzo. At $350,000, the LFA begins to attending like article of a bargain. The LFA is an exotic, two-place, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe. The anatomy and anatomy are fabricated abundantly of carbon-fiber composite, aloof like those of an Enzo or a Mercedes SLR McLaren. Per Lexus’s scales, the car weighs 3263 pounds—less than a Corvette ZR1.
The agent is a 4.8-liter V-10 codeveloped with Yamaha. It’s a bunched assemblage that makes 553 application at 8700 rpm and revs to a bemused 9000 rpm. Maximum torque of 354 pound-feet peaks at 6800 rpm, with 90 percent accessible amid 3700 and 9000 revs.
The rear-mounted, six-speed automatic chiral transaxle incorporates a Torsen limited-slip differential. Ascendancy accoutrements comprise the advanced suspension, with a multilink adjustment at the back. To accumulate weight down, the abeyance pieces and the remote-reservoir monotube KYB dampers are aluminum.
The Brembo carbon-ceramic anchor bureaucracy consists of discs 15.4 inches in bore and six-piston monoblock calipers up front, with 14.2-inch discs and four-piston calipers at the back. Forged aluminum 20-inch BBS auto sit axial bespoke 265/35 advanced and 305/30 rear Bridgestone Potenza tires. There are four alive modes: automatic, normal, wet, and sport; the disciplinarian can additionally baddest chiral about-face speeds. In action mode, the stability-control arrangement allows for greater amounts of yaw, but the arrangement can be switched off completely.
When it comes to the styling, there’s a audible Japanese aesthetic, what with all the aciculate edges and matte-black vents. But it’s not a arch turner like the Enzo or alike a Lamborghini Gallardo. We absolutely wouldn’t adjustment one in matte black—one of 30 accessible colors—because it looks like addition forgot to acrylic it properly.
But there is action basement the somewhat sedate form. According to arch architect Haruhiko Tanahashi, an advantage of application carbon cilia for the bodywork is that it’s accessible to accomplish actual aciculate edges and cutoffs that advance aerodynamic performance. The LFA has a analytic low accessory of annoyance (0.31), and Tanahashi says that the car produces added downforce than any of its competitors. Alike the axial edges of the aperture mirrors are shaped to adviser air into scoops over the rear fenders that augment the rear-mounted radiators. A ample rear addition accumulation a Gurney accessory ancestor up at speeds aloft 50 mph.
The autogenous is aseptic but tasteful. The car we collection had a admixture of adaptable leather, carbon fiber, Alcantara, and “satin metal” adorning the cockpit. Lexus will action bench coverings in 12 shades of covering or 10 alternating hues of Alcantara, with three blush choices for the Alcantara headliner. “Roomy” describes the cabin, although baggage amplitude is minimal. The admiring brazier seats accept eight-way ability adjustments, and the alive position is superb. The accessory controls are as accessible to acquisition and use as in a accepted Lexus sedan, and the LFA alike has the aforementioned mouse-style operation for its multifunction center-console awning as in an RX350 sport-ute.
Trick tach puts on a show. Its face turns white for action mode, glows red abreast redline. A button on the council caster activates lap-timer and shift-point options.
The squared-off council caster houses a alpha button and a about-face that controls the instrument-panel display. We like that the admixture paddle shifters are anchored to the council column; the right-hand batten governs upshifts, and the larboard one is for downshifts.
The best arresting autogenous actualization are seatbelt airbags—which aerate in a blast to advance the impact’s armament over a broader area of the anatomy than a acceptable belt—and the apparatus display, which is as air-conditioned as aqueous nitrogen. Alter the agent settings, and the ample axial tachometer, which additionally incorporates a agenda speedometer and a accessory indicator, changes appearance. In action mode, the accomplishments blush goes from atramentous to white and the increments amid the tach’s numbers get bigger. Pressing the affectation about-face on the council caster causes the tach to arise to abscond alongside in the apparatus panel. This opens a submenu that allows the disciplinarian to admission actualization such as a lap timer and alike to change the point at which admonishing lights arise on the tach.
We collection the car on a admixture of autobahn and dual-track roads, as able-bodied as at the Nürburging. Everywhere, all day long, it’s an complete missile. Lexus claims a 0-to-62-mph time of 3.7 abnormal and a top acceleration of 202 mph—utterly believable back because the LFA’s power-to-weight arrangement of 5.9 pounds per horsepower. (A Corvette ZR1’s arrangement is 5.3.) It’s not as quick as a Bugatti Veyron, but then, what is? Besides a Top Ammunition dragster, of course.
The agent is stunning, accouterment massive advance from 4000 rpm and zinging advancement to the 9000-rpm redline. Its agenda is an absurd bawl that sounds like an F1 car’s but quieter. The V-10 is so adjustable that the disciplinarian can drop the car in sixth accessory at almost low speeds—say 50 mph—floor the throttle, and the car will rocket to 150 mph in a hurry. Use the abounding nine admirable through the gears, though, and the soundtrack is unforgettable, as is the bulk that the backdrop and added cars abutting in.
The accouterment are bland and eye-blink quick in chiral approach but become a bit bulky in the automatic setting. (This is the case with best single-clutch automatic manuals.) Back the tach aggravate approaches redline, the barometer glows red and there are all sorts of affected bleeps and bings.
For all that, the best absorbing aspect of the car is its adherence at speed. We saw aloof over 170 mph out on the Ring (and somewhat bottom speeds on the autobahn), and alike then, the affair feels as buried as a sequoia (the abundant tree, not the awkward SUV). Unlike the video-gamey Nissan GT-R, the LFA is abundant added tactile. The council has abundant feel and weight, which is hasty aback it’s a absolutely electric system. The anchor pedal, too, is beeline and rewarding, while the carbon-ceramic brakes are sensational. On German roads, which are as bland as a croquet lawn, the LFA rides nicely—it’s abutting but able-bodied damped. On the Ring, which is absolutely bumpier than accustomed German blacktop, we’d say it was annealed but not uncomfortable.
Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes.
Out on the Nordschleife, alike in action mode, the stability-control arrangement intrudes beforehand than we expected, authoritative it difficult to circle the car into corners with power. But about-face off the adherence control, and the LFA comes alive. The car’s behavior is again bent by a aggregate of council lock and burke input, aloof the way a acceptable front-engine, rear-drive car should be. Too little throttle, and the car noses wide; punch in the appropriate amount, and the attitude is neutral. Apply too abundant ability too early, and the appendage will slide, but it’s actual controllable.
There’s conspicuously added anchor aloft 50 mph, back the alive rear addle-brain comes into play. The car does aggregate instantly, with hardly any anatomy cycle and endless of grip. Trying hard—but not so adamantine that the LFA ability accept a abutting appointment with the Ring’s abounding afar of guardrail—we lapped it in aloof over 8 minutes, at an boilerplate acceleration of 95 mph. (Both the ZR1 and the GT-R accept lapped it in 7 account 26 abnormal with hero drivers at the helm.)
The LFA is the best agitative car to appear out of Japan aback the GT-R, as it should be for the money Lexus is charging. But it’s added involving than the Nissan and a abundant added appropriate experience. In abounding ways, its abutting accustomed battling is the Ferrari 599GTB, although the Lexus is added belly and agitative and bigger counterbalanced and added nimble. At the aforementioned time, the LFA is accessible to drive at accustomed speeds, quiet at cruise, and refined, aloof like a Lexus should be. Whether bodies can agree the cast with a badly expensive, badly competent sports car will be absorbing to say the least.
The LFA’s agent is a V-10 artlessly because that was the blueprint of Formula 1 cars back Lexus boarded on the project. Plus, according to arch architect Tanahashi, “We couldn’t get such aerial revs from a V-8, and a V-12 is too big and heavy.” The 72-degree bend is best for primary and accessory antithesis on a V-10, Tanahashi adds. Alien actualization of this agent accommodate titanium valves and abutting rods, alone burke bodies for anniversary cylinder, carbon- and silicon-coated rocker accoutrements with chip oil jets, and magnesium admixture cam covers. The agent spins so bound that Lexus says it had to use a agenda tach because an analog adaptation couldn’t accumulate up.
To accumulate the centermost of force low, the agent has a dry-sump oil system, and the oil and baptize pumps are army low and to the rear of the engine. The agent is affiliated to the transaxle by a massive torque tube—the bankrupt arrangement runs beneath this allotment to ensure a attenuated axial adit that enabled the engineers to abode the occupants lower and afterpiece to the centerline of the car. The attraction with befitting accumulation aural the wheelbase and as low as accessible led to a 48/52 percent front-to-rear weight distribution. The six-speed manual fires off accouterment amid 0.2 and 1.0 added depending on the affairs the disciplinarian selects.
A acumen this car took so continued to appear is that its anatomy architecture afflicted from aluminum to carbon cilia during development. Lexus acclimated carbon cilia to accumulate weight down, claiming that the anatomy in white is 221 pounds lighter than it would be were it fabricated of aluminum.
The LFA uses a axial carbon-fiber-reinforced artificial monocoque with aluminum subframes at the advanced and rear, which are anchored on and able with glue. If the car is damaged, these subframes can artlessly be apart and replaced. (A abounding carbon-fiber anatomy would bulk abundant added and crave added adjustment time.) Sixty-five percent of the anatomy anatomy is fabricated of carbon fiber, with the actual 35 percent actuality aluminum. Lexus absitively to aftermath the carbon cilia in-house, application its own aberrant technology. The aggregation additionally absitively to carelessness acceptable carbon-fiber fixings, in which threaded aluminum inserts are captivated in the fabric; instead, Lexus engineers acclimated a flanged aluminum collar to articulation carbon cilia to aluminum.
Lexus says that the anatomy is abundantly annealed but added some added crossbraces as a aftereffect of the acquaint abstruse in two 24-hour contest at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The best accomplishment in those two contest was fourth abode in chic and 87th overall.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe
ESTIMATED BASE PRICE: $350,000
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 40-valve V-10, aluminum block and heads, anchorage ammunition injection
Displacement: 293 cu in, 4805 ccPower: 553 bhp @ 8700 rpmTorque: 354 lb-ft @ 6800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic manual
DIMENSIONS:Wheelbase: 102.6 in Length: 177.4 in Width: 74.6 in Height: 48.0 inCurb weight (C/D est): 3500 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST): Zero to 60 mph: 3.5 secStanding ¼-mile: 11.8 sec Top acceleration (drag limited, mfr’s claim): 202 mph
FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):EPA city/highway driving: 14/20 mpg
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