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.

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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

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Add a comment…
Alguien 22 October 2009

Re: Lexus LF-A

I really can't believe how the people is able to be that ignorant, god!

Little flowers... What LEXUS (Toyota) is trying to do with this vehicle is showing what they are able to do, specially with aerodynamic and performance related with consuption and obviously, with the 'reliability' known in Toyota (try to do what you could do with a Toyota in any Ferrari or Porsche, haha)

Well, to help to the people understanding:

It can't be hybrid (full hybrid) because in this system must be used CVT, which is not pretty nice in a supercar, right? --> Anyway... However, Toyota already tried a new system on Supra's Hybrid System (Tokachi)

And now my question: What is called 'innovation' on Ferrari or Porsche, except the 'mirrors', hahaha. Then... compare any of them with this Lexus and try to say the same.

Those Prius what someone named here... has even better Cx than any Porsche, Ferrari...

Please, be realistic before saying anything

stevied 22 October 2009

Re: Lexus LF-A

coolboy wrote:

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!

This is incomprehensible! Until now I thought this website had escaped the ranting of those illiterates that abound elsewhere.... this doesn't even have the saving grace of making any sense. Well, none of us are going to own this car, so not sure why people are getting their knickers in a twist. Looks pretty cool to me, if a little GT-R-esque at the front. Love the rear view, and those intakes (?) at the rear of the side windows. Cockpit is far cooler than my car. Performance seems pretty much on a par with the competition. Good luck to those who can afford one. Looking forward to seeing it first-hand this weekend.

ryaner 21 October 2009

Re: Lexus LF-A

While I admit, even if I was blowing a few million on a car collection, this wouldn't be in it, I still don't feel all this criticism is warranted.

For example, look at the veritas thing going for over 300k, this looks quite a bargain beside it. Not to mention something like the Aston one-77, 1million and it doesn't move the game on much more than this does. In fact, not many supercars move the game on leaps and bounds when it comes down to it.

I think this car is largely a replacement for the merc slr in a way, the practical supercar. Also, for all those individuals quoting 0-60 comparisons with the gt-r, there's not even that big a difference between a gt-r and an enzo to 60, its in gear times etc. and acceleration from say 150-180 where the difference would be truly noticed.

Styling wise, had a look at some of the photos on pistonheads and it looked a bit better there, no classic though.

I'm not saying I would buy this car(if I could), the only modern supercars in my dream garage are carrera gt and standard murcielago.