From £21,214
A serious and credible supercar - but it comes at a very high price

Our Verdict

Lexus LFA 2010-2012
Can Lexus rewrite the supercar rulebook at its first attempt?

With the Lexus LFA, the firm is trying to rewrite the supercar rulebook at its first attempt

  • First Drive

    Lexus LFA Nurburgring package

    LFA now has handling to match its scintillating performance. Let down only by crazy price
  • First Drive

    Lexus LFA

    A serious and credible supercar - but it comes at a very high price

What is it?

The LFA is Lexus’s long awaited first supercar. Six years in the making, and subject to a major rethink mid development, the LFA faces a fair amount of expectation.

Still, the final on-paper stats certainly justify the supercar billing. A bespoke 4.8-litre V10 producing 552bhp and revving to 9000rpm. A transaxle six-speed automated sequential gearbox. Extensive use of carbonfibre reinforced plastic for the chassis construction and body panels. Conventional rear-wheel drive, and no hybrid drive. The LFA also comes with a supercar price tag of 375,000 euros (£343,000).

What’s it like?

At first very Lexus like. The styling is pretty out there, but the attention to detail, and production is absolutely first rate. Open the doors, bonnet or boot and you’ll find exposed carbonfibre, but carbon that it is so beautifully finished you find yourself starring at it.

Similarly the interior is incredibly well finished, with a mixture of leather, carbon, aluminium and a super high tech TFT screen rev-counter. The best detail though are the pedals which simply exquisite – each one a single piece of forged aluminium. So the typical Lexus virtues of quality and refinement are very much intact in even this, its most extreme model.

That impression doesn’t change when you first twist the conventional key and press the steering wheel mounted starter button. The engine flares a little as it catches, but then settles to an idle as smooth and restful as any other Lexus.

Prod the throttle, though, and the LFA hints a character about as far removed from any existing Lexus as you could possibly imagine. The engine revs rise and fall so quickly and with such a sharp timbre that it feels like a pure race engine. While a torque figure of 354 lb ft may look a little weedy next to rivals with larger capacity engines, or forced induction, there is no shortage of straight-line performance.

Lexus’s claim of 0-62mph in 3.7sec and a top speed of 202mph feel completely believable. You just need to keep the revs up to get the most from the engine. That's not something you’ll mind doing, because from 6000rpm onwards the engine produces one of the best engine notes of any car on sale. It’s similar to a V10 BMW M5, but higher pitched and a lot louder; more like a Carrera GT.

It is at this point you look at the cars the people at Lexus (or Toyota) have produced before and start wondering where on earth the LFA has come from. It is so raw, intense and manic.

What's more, the gearbox is no different. Because Lexus wanted the engine to rev with as little inertia as possible, it opted for a single clutch gearbox, which it also believes gives a greater sense of involvement than a double clutch gearbox. In its most extreme mode (there a four maps, and seven shift speeds) it works very well on full throttle upshifts at or near the limiter, and is certainly quick, but at anything less it feels a little too involving. In the less extreme modes, the change is slower and less physical, but still not smooth, and in its slowest mode, can feel like it is slipping the clutch. Overall the gearbox is one of only two things I’m not so sure about the LFA.

The other is the steering, which unusually for a supercar is electrically assisted. While it is super precise, and very quick it takes some getting used to, mostly because it is very light. There is a reasonable flow of information from the wheel, and the movement away from the straight-ahead is progressive, but the LFA does not steer as intuitively as the best sportscars.

Small question mark over the steering aside, the LFA handles brilliantly. With extensive use of carbonfibre the LFA is a) pretty light for a front-engineed supercar at 1480kg, and b) incredibly rigid. And on the road you can feel this lightness and strength in the LFA’s willingness to change direction, with minimal roll and zero flex. Like the engine there is very little inertia, combined (on a dry road at least) with masses of lateral grip.

The brakes, which are carbon ceramic are monumentally strong, but also precise.

Should I buy one?

That is the tricky question. Firstly because Lexus is asking a whooping amount of money for it, and secondly because it will only produce 500 examples.

What is clear though, is that the LFA is packed with technology that has been developed to an incredibly high standard, presumably at astronomical cost to Toyota. And we’d guess that for some individuals, gaining access to such exclusive technology will justify the LFA’s price.

What’s more impressive though, is that the LFA has a character of its own, rather follow a preset supercar template. That it is more solidly constructed than anything Italian, and less flamboyant, is perhaps to be expected from a Lexus. What’s surprising though is how honed and sharp it feels to drive. While it has GT qualities it’s no soft-edged GT. Instead it is a serious and credible supercar.

Jamie Corstorphine

Join the debate

Comments
18

21 October 2009

Would love to own that. Would be great to at least to experience it- a big draw for me is how light it is and how rigid the chassis would be , oh & that interior just clicks for me

21 October 2009

It is interesting how different manufacturers have gone down different paths regarding the transmission. Double-clutch transmissions seem to be de rigueur in this day and age. The fact that Toyota(Lexus - no disrespect) had opted for the single-clutch robotised manual transmission does make me wonder if it will be as good as its contemporaries. Similar transmission found in the BMW M5/M6 are less than convincing (Ferrari has already moved on to double-clutch with the California and the Italia). The LF-A may be designed for the race-track, but there will be question marks on its suitability for everyday use.

Finally, there is the harsh reality to be reckoned with. Who will pay 375,000Euros for a car with no pedigree? I hope I'm terribly wrong, but this looks like the new Toyota 2000GT. A car that will be consigned to the history books very quickly.

21 October 2009

That interior is diabolical - the centre of the steering wheel has come right off my IS200, and I don't like the odd shape of the dash, centre console or the weird compartments (ashtrays?) built into the outter edge of the seats?!

The exterior styling doesn't do it for me either - lucky I'm nowhere near wealthy enough to be in thier target demographic!

For £343,000 I'd take a 458, used RS4 and GT3RS for the track!

I'm a very big lexus advocate but they got this so wrong on almost every front!

21 October 2009

this car is a joke!

doesn`t bring nothing...

it`s not better than the competition (in 20 years they already forgot?)

it`s not hybrid

it`s not... whatever!

what`s the point of this? more than 6 years for what? it even can not keep up in the Nürburgring, it catch fire!

go, go bild Auris and Priuses...

21 October 2009

I can't find a single thing this car does better than the infinitely cheaper Nissan GT-R.

And it looks as if it was built from plastic panels by an amateur in a shed.

21 October 2009

[quote JackB]

I can't find a single thing this car does better than the infinitely cheaper Nissan GT-R.

And it looks as if it was built from plastic panels by an amateur in a shed.

[/quote]

The GT-R is a stunning bit of kit, but park the two side by side and see them in the flesh and I think you'll instantly see the difference in finish and purity of engineering.

21 October 2009

" ... and I think you`ll instantly see the difference in finish and purity of engineering."

you mean: I dream that all persons will be blind enough...

c`mon, both were "projected" in Japan: dull, dull, dull as hell, purity and beauty is all but out of the shelf...

still, I hate the GT-R, but please, oh god!, please, give me all that you can, including the pointless Spec-V!

21 October 2009

Caution:

mind the floormats!

AHAHAHAHAH!

21 October 2009

[quote coolboy]Caution:

mind the floormats!

AHAHAHAHAH![/quote]

brilliant!

Maybe the £343k price is explained by the need to throw in 4 cable ties at the last minute to secure the floormats.

21 October 2009

[quote coolboy]

this car is a joke!

doesn`t bring nothing...

[/quote] So it must bring something then?

It looks like a mk4 supra mated with an R8 (check the back end) and had horrendously defromed offspring!

I'd still love a go though.

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