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First Looks: The Lexus LFA


A video of the new Lexus LFA losing in acceleration to a 2010 Nissan GT-R surfaced (see below), which gave the supercar a negative image to begin with. What many don’t know is that the LFA represents a technological milestone since the last engineering marvel, the Audi R8, and is essentially more advanced beneath all that carbon fibre and its relatively quiet, non-menacing character. After all, Lexus has been attributed to the combination of luxury and elegance, and they did so with a supercar that can keep an infant asleep while cruising above 200km/h.

In 1989, Lexus launched the designation F, coded for its first Flagship vehicle. While most of its developmental cars remained clandestine, it was only in 2007 that Lexus F revealed that it had been working on a performance model, the first Lexus IS F. Since then rumors stated that F stood for Flagship or Fast when it actually was inspired from Fuji Speedway’s first corner 27R. While the 5.0l direct-injection 2UR-GSE V8 engine IS F was truly a flagship for the F marque series, it resembled most other Lexus luxury sedans. Apart from the F emblem on the front fenders, it was impossible to tell that this was worthy of being the vehicle of choice for the Japanese James Bonds.

The completely furnished 2-seater Lexus LFA coupe first rolled out as an F marque concept vehicle during the 2007 North American International Auto Show. What seemed to be a cross between the 2010 Mazda 3, and a 370Z, the body of the prototype LFA was in every way Japanese, and smoothened to be an aerodynamic godsend that resembled non-existent prototype cars used in the game Burnout Revenge. A similar look was adopted for the LF-A roadster.

Not surprisingly, in 2008, the prototype entered the Nürburgring 4 hour VLN endurance race where it won the SP8 class, proving Toyota engineering’s unquestionable reliability and perhaps laying the grounds for accelerator pedals that need not be released. On April 2009, another prototype of the LFA won the ADAC-Westfalenfahrt VLN 4h endurance race, in the same class, although one infamously caught fire during the Nürburgring 24-Hours (We’ll forgive Lexus on this one for following the trend of super cars catching fire).  From first looks, this prototype, which went on to become Lexus F’s first production LFA model, resembled a lowered elongated version of Nissan’s 370Z, without the 2 fangs in the front bumpers. From the rear however, it was more Audi R8-like, with only the lack of an engine bay and the addition of a retractable speed sensitive rear wing setting it apart.

Powered by a 4.8-liter V10 engine equipped with dual VVT-i, the LFA has a maximum output of 552HP at 8,700 rpm. More interestingly, much of its torque arrives from 3,700rpm before maxing out at 6,800. At a power-to-weight ratio of 2.7kg/hp, the LFA has a top speed of 325km/h, although it wasn’t enough to beat the Lamborghini Gallardo or Nissan GTR in 0-100km/h accelerations. A visible slit beneath the bonnet forces air into dual stage variable intake manifold which later splits into the individual V10 Yamaha co-developed cylinders containing forged aluminum pistons, forged titanium connecting rods and solid titanium valves. Twin dual-stage titanium mufflers provide ample unrestricted breathing, although exceed Euro V emissions standards.

The V10, while lighter than a 3.5l 2GR-FE V6 engine was chosen over a V8 engine for higher revs and over a V12 for faster engine response. Such a choice backfired as the engine can rev from idle to redline in 0.6s, which proved too slow for analogue tachometers, and hence in its place is a digital one with programmable redline warning color tones. Together with the rear wing, a front engine layout allows one of the best safety ratings for its possible affluent owners in terms of dynamics and handling – proved by having the quickest wettest lap ever recorded on Top Gear’s test track, 3 seconds faster than the all-wheel-drive Gallardo.

So should you buy it?

Production of LFA begins in late 2010, and only 500 units will be made – 20 each month. Each unit will have a plaque bearing its unique number, pretty much like the Reventon and the V10 engine would bear a signature of the specialist who assembled it. They will also be custom made to individual drivers’ preferences and be on a 2 year lease – like the Ferrari F40 to prevent buyers from reselling it at a higher price. At a base price of US$375,000, this is one supercar that Singaporeans should not miss.

Almost 65% of the LFA’s body is made of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer, which accounts for the car’s lightness, despite the improved handling on emphasized down force. This translates to good fuel efficiency ratings, and if you’re daring, you could take advantage of the 73-litre fuel tank capacity for refueling trips in JB without flouting the ¾ rule and having plenty of drive-time meanwhile.

The 6-speed Automated Sequential Gearbox, operated with paddle-shifters and the ability to select from four settings, auto, normal, sport and wet open up plenty of driving experiences for the Singaporean driver. Power is delivered to the transmission via a torque tube by a crank-mounted offset gear – a world first indeed. Needless to say, it retains its stability and speed even on heavy downpours, and to ensure that this Toyota supercar stops – Brembo monobloc brake calipers with 6-piston front and 4-piston rear carbon ceramic discs controlled by Toyota’s Electronically Controlled Brake brake-by-wire system give it a 100km/h-0 stopping distance of just 28.7m.

Ofcourse, Lexus didn’t leave out the luxury finishing to the interior of the LFA. Apart from carbon fibre, leather and alcantara interior and bucket seats, the digital instrument display features color changing backgrounds for each mode, size changing numbers and appearing submenus. The Lexus Remote Touch controller Interface, first introduced on the 2010 Lexus RX 350 & 450h models is also incorporated in the LFA, giving the driver control of in-car information, configurations, and entertainment systems.

In case that doesn’t undo the damage brought by the GT-R, here’s a video that perfectly gives u the luxurious Lexus feel of the LFA. If you were wondering why the engine’s high pitch scream could compliment an opera playing in the background, well for one reason, ducts from the engine bay to the cabin were tuned in such a way that the rider hears the perfect timbre of the engine sound. Kudos to the Yamaha Music Department. Who else would have given thought to the common engine-induced male orgasm but the Japanese?

Lexus LFA vs 2010 GTR

The saddest part of this marvel is that Toyota announced early this month – all 500 units are sold out!

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