Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

It is a measure of the rate of progress in the supercar stakes that, when Lexus confirmed the Lexus LFA’s statistics, some voices were heard to question whether 552bhp was enough. The thinking was that simply matching the entry-level Ferrari and Lamborghini wasn’t sufficiently spectacular for a car costing twice the price.

In bragging rights, the dissenters may have a point, because against the clock the LFA is outperformed by not only the 458 Italia and Gallardo LP560-4, but also the Mercedes-AMG SLS and, perhaps most embarrassingly of all, the Porsche 911 Turbo S. In such company, a 0-100mph time of 8.2sec is not quite off the pace but it is certainly disappointing.

With carbon-ceramic brake discs, the Lexus LFA has no trouble stopping from high speeds repeatedly

However, any measure of performance that includes a standing start undersells the LFA’s accelerative ability because, without launch control, the LFA struggles off the line, either bogging down or burning its clutch. Discount the launch and the LFA is much more competitive. A 30-100mph time of 6.2sec is just 0.1sec off the SLS’s and LP560’s. Furthermore, unlike our test prototype, customer cars are expected to have launch control.

There is a further caveat, though. To achieve such performance, the LFA’s V10 needs to be kept within the last third of its 9400rpm range. Peak torque of 354lb ft is not only less than the 458’s 398lb ft but it also arrives 800rpm later. With carbon-ceramic brake discs, the LFA has no trouble stopping from high speeds repeatedly with almost no fade.

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Pedal modulation is mostly good, but there could be a fraction more progression when simply brushing the pedal to lose a little speed.

In performance terms, the LFA’s biggest disappointment is its single-clutch gearbox. Next to the latest dual-clutch systems, it feels outdated. In its most extreme setting, the changes are swift enough but brutal; switch to a slower setting and the changes become ponderous and clumsy.