The 2012 Lexus LFA Revealed
It’s time to see if Lexus’s long-time-coming LFA supercar makes supercar numbers. We’ve strapped on the gear, we’ve burned the gas, and we’ve sorted the data. And as far as we know, we’re the first to have done so. Twist the carbon-fiber key of the Lexus flagship and listen to its race-bred V10 wail. Within seconds of the sound reaching the eardrum, the adrenal glands initialize epinephrine production and endorphins are released from the pituitary. The result of the natural injection is a more rapid heartbeat, an increase in blood pressure, involuntary muscle relaxation/contraction and an overall feeling of well-being the human body becomes more alert, physically stronger and has greater energy. In layman's terms the LFA makes its driver feel positively euphoric.
Regrettably, as is the case with most "feel good" medicines, the LFA is also extremely habit-forming and highly addictive. But Lexus has addressed this issue by ensuring safeguards are in place to prevent abuse. First, a person has to be of legal driving age to get behind the wheel. Second, the automaker has limited production to just 500 units worldwide (there are only 46 in North America today). Lastly, and this will certainly keep the toxins from falling into the wrong hands, is that the base sticker price of the carbon-fiber, aluminum and titanium hallucinogenic is a nicely-rounded $375,000.
Under the carbon fiber hood, with its own trick carbon fiber prop rod, is a naturally-aspirated 4.8-liter V10. Thanks to lightweight internals, including titanium valves and connecting rods, the engine redlines at 9,000 rpm with an ultimate fuel cut-off at a dizzying 9,500 rpm. The powerplant, which Toyota says is smaller than a traditional V8 and lighter than a conventional V6, features individual throttle bodies for each cylinder. With dry sump lubrication for sustained high-speed cornering, it is rated at 552 horsepower at 8,700 rpm and 354 pound-feet of torque at 6,800 rpm. The awe factor doesn't stop there, as Toyota also fitted its LFA with equal-length titanium exhaust manifolds and a beautifully-tuned titanium silencer. The sound coming out of the center-mounted triple-cluster exhaust is pure Formula One, a high-pitched wail that is unheard of outside a race circuit.
Computer animators went to work on the all-digital displays, apparently, after an all-nighter watching Transformers movies. The tach needle doesn’t just appear at startup; it organically grows out of the center like a mutant beanstalk. Put the car in sport mode, and the displays do a quickie switch-o, change-o to a sportier-looking dial at least a high-res pixilated digital one. Information screens slide out from behind one another, and the centered tach slides left or right as needed. It’s all fluid and weirdly organic, and very cool.
Remember, though, the LFA is first and foremost a corporate halo, a rolling Super Bowl ad intended to ignite passion and fire in a nonsupercar brand. Who really cares if the LFA itself loses a few deca-millions in the process? What matters is that the 500 cars do their part and set the hearts and pocketbooks of would-be Lexus buyers ablaze. (Incidentally, Toyota admits that LFA purchasers will be largely hand-selected for maximum visibility and marketing value.)
The Lexus LFA is an extraordinary feat of engineering. But surrounded by far less costly Ferrari 458s, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2s, Chevy Corvette ZR1s $82,000 Nissan GT -Rs!...as a supercar it will need to swim like Michael Phelps to keep from drowning in a very deep pool.