Lexus’ long-awaited supercar, the LFA, has been making the rounds in the auto show circuit for several years in various concept and prototype versions and it finally arrived during calendar year 2011 as a 2012 model. Built with a limited run of only 500 units to be sold over the course of two years, and with a $375,000 sticker price, this is the most exclusive Lexus model ever built. Far more people will have seen the car on a display turntable than will ever spot one parked on the street or whizzing by on the highway.
Crisply styled, the low-slung LFA’s lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic bodywork features the requisite creases, vents and air dams. As is the case with many of Lexus’ more-sedate models, casual onlookers would be hard-pressed to identify it by make and model. It’s about the size of a Lamborghini Gallardo, though it rides about two inches taller. Not quite as organically sensual as a Ferrari nor post-modern industrial looking as a Lamborghini, it resembles what would be a modern-day rendition of the Toyota Supra sports car that was last sold in the U.S. for the 1998 model year.
But the Lexus LFA can run rings around that model, thanks to a 4.8-liter V10 engine that generates an evocative 552 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Lexus says it can make the leap to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds and reach an adrenaline-pumping top speed of 202 mph. It channels all that power to the rear wheels via a six-speed Automated Sequential Gearbox transmission that features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for quick and responsive manual gear changes. Drivers can tailor transmission response in seven steps over four different operating modes, including a fully automatic selection. The mid-front positioning of the engine and the rear-mounted ASG help the car afford a nearly perfect 48:52 front-to-rear weight ratio.
A lightweight aluminum alloy suspension with a double wishbone construction at the front and a multi-link layout at the rear, teamed with a unique electrically assisted rack-and-pinion steering system and wide 20-inch wheels and tires deliver razor-sharp cornering capabilities. Carbon ceramic brake discs not only help stop the LFA as quickly as it accelerates, they’re extra durable for added longevity. An active rear wing raises at speeds over 50 mph to enhance the car’s high-speed stability.
Inside the Lexus LFA’s snug two-seat cabin the driver grips a carbon fiber steering wheel and sits before a hooded circular digital instrument panel with a digital speedometer and a round tachometer that fades to red when the engine speed reaches 9,000 rpm as a subtle signal to tell the driver its time to shift gears. Specially designed heated leather bucket seats are both supportive and comfortable enough to leave a driver refreshed over a long road trip. Buyers can specify Alcantara trimmed seats as alternatives to leather.
The entertainment systems and optional GPS navigation array are operated by Lexus’ Remote Touch interface that uses a joystick-like controller to navigate menu driven commands. It’s like BMW’s iDrive system, but is a bit more intuitive to operate. A 12-speaker audio system developed especially with weight reduction in mind comes standard, with an audiophile-grade Mark Levinson surround-sound system optional.
Lexus LFA Quick Facts
Engine: 4.8-liter V10
Horsepower: 552 @ 8,700 rpm
Torque: 354 @ 6,800 rpm
City/Highway: MPG NA
Transmission: 6-Spd Auto Manual
Wheelbase: 102.6 in
Overall Length: 177.0 in
Width: 74.6 in
Height: 48.0 in
Curb Weight: 3,263 lbs
Did You Know?
Only 500 LFA vehicles are planned for production, all hand-assembled by “Lexus LFA Works” at the Motomachi Plant in Toyota City by skilled technicians at a rate of no more than 20 per month.