Lexus, Toyota's luxury division, has long made a name for itself by producing vehicles that are known for their reliability, comfort and luxury, but the brand has never claimed to be a sports car manufacturer - until now.
Meet the Lexus LFA, a true supercar in every sense of the word and the result of a long, relentless pursuit of perfection. The LFA now sits atop the Lexus range and fills the role of halo car for the brand.
The Lexus LFA features an all-new 4.8-liter V10 developed exclusively for use in the high-dollar supercar. Power is rated at 552 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Although maximum twist doesn't come on until the needle sweeps past the 6,800rpm mark, Toyota says that 90 percent of the LFA's torque is available between 3,700rpm and the screaming 9,000rpm redline.
Because it is still a Lexus, the LFA is relatively tame-sounding at lower speeds thanks to a multi-stage exhaust system that keeps an exhaust valve closed under 3,000 rpms for reduced drone. The system opens up above 3,000 rpms to let loose a unique roar that Lexus says is akin to F1 race cars.
Power is sent to the LFA's rear wheels via a paddle-shifted six-speed Automated Sequential Gearbox. Set low and back in the LFA's chassis, the unit contributes to the car's nearly ideal 48:52 front-to-rear weight distribution. It isn't quite as quick or refined as the gearboxes of some competitors due to its somewhat antiquated single-clutch design, however.
In order to keep the LFA light on its feet, Toyota relied heavily on lightweight materials for nearly every aspect of the supercar. Aluminum was originally planned for the LFA's construction, but engineers ultimately decided to use Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic for the car's chassis and body as it offered even greater weight savings than did aluminum.
Designed in-house after years of painstaking research and development, CFRP is four times stronger than aluminum yet netted a 100kg weight savings according to Toyota.
The LFA also features Carbon Ceramic Material brakes, which are both lighter than steel and more fade-resistant. In total, the LFA weighs in at 3,263 lbs.
The net result of Toyota's efforts is a vehicle that can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in just under 3.7 seconds, with a top-speed of 202 mph. Fuel economy is rated at 11 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on the highway.
Sales are limited to just 500 units worldwide, with no more than 20 examples to be made per month. Making LFA ownership an even more exclusive and unique experience is a purchase system that disallows buyers to sell the LFA within two years of their initial purchase without paying an exorbitant fee to the automaker.
Lexus says it chose to put these restrictions in place to prevent resellers from scooping up the cars in the hopes of turning a profit.
As with most supercars, the LFA is highly customizable, with buyers able to choose from 30 standard paint colors or delete standard equipment such as the car's audio system.
Those looking to take their LFA to the track should check out the Nurburgring package, which adds several aerodynamic refinements in addition to a revised suspension and slightly more power.
Inspired by the 24 Hours of Nurburgring prototype LFA racecar, the package boasts several carbon fiber reinforced plastic fins and spoilers to help increase high speed downforce. A large front spoiler, fin-type side spoilers, a canard fin and a fixed rear wing all differ from the comparatively sedate standard LFA.
Ride height is dropped 10 mm and the suspension has been fine tuned for even more on-track precision. A set of exclusive mesh wheels are wrapped in high performance tires unique to the LFA Nurburgring Edition.
To ensure that the aerodynamic changes don't slow this special LFA down, it features a slightly upgraded V10 that produces 562 horsepower (10 more than the standard LFA). The gear-shift time was reduced by 0.05 seconds to only 0.15 seconds for even quicker acceleration.
Only 50 LFAs will be built with the Nurburgring package.
Though the LFA is aimed at similarly pricey exotics like the Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, it can also be compared with the other, less-expensive Japanese supercar, the Nissan GT-R.