This über-rare (only 500 have been made) Lexus LFA supercar is an exercise in technology and passion. It shows what Toyota can accomplish and is magnificent in so many ways. The cockpit is sublime with an ethos of race car disguised in street car trim. The styling is functional and pure, and then there’s the engine, a 553hp V10 that in itself is a work of engineering brilliance.
The ridiculous (in a good way) gauge cluster presents a center-stacked digital tachometer with a glorious 9,000-rpm redline. Stab the gas pedal and the V10 responds with a bark that is music to even the deafest person’s ears. In fact, the exhaust note the LFA produces is arguably as good as the driving experience itself. There’s just no justice in explaining the sweet symphony of the combustion cycle these 10 cylinders produce. It is something you have to encounter first hand.
I’ve driven my fair share of supercars, and while I don’t consider the Lexus LFA to be the best performing of the bunch, it definitely tops the litter as the most engaging.
There’s pretty much nothing to complain about with the LFA. It’s magnificent in every department. However, the single-clutch automated sequential gearbox is a bit dated, and the LFA doesn’t shift nearly as quickly as some of the more modern twin-clutch units. To be fair, the car I drove had endured a full day of hard track abuse from many journalists, so the transmission may have been a bit lazy.
The carbon-ceramic brakes, on the other hand, showed no signs of giving up. Lap after lap, the brake pedal was linear and stopping performance was sensational. Aside from the engine and exhaust note, the stopping capability was one of the most impressive features on the LFA.
With normal cars, concessions have to be made due to restrictions. Cost, time, and money all play a role. However, the LFA represents a great accomplishment for Lexus and Toyota. It shows the true proficiency of the manufacturer when those boundaries are lifted. Unlike Ferrari or Lamborghini, which have had decades of practice, the LFA is Toyota’s first true supercar. And all things considered, it’s a work of automotive bliss.
Since most of us don’t have truckloads of cash to spend on an LFA, not all is lost. Lexus has injected the F Sport lineup of cars with many technologies found on the LFA. The LFA’s race-inspired gauge cluster is now found on the new IS F Sport, as well as some interior design cues.
Driving the entire F Sport fleet on the racetrack has reinforced my notion that Lexus is taking performance seriously. The days of being a plush, conservative, luxury brand are starting to fade. The F Sport line has a long way to go to be considered a true driver’s brand, but the subtle performance enhancements and styling additions translate to engaging and fun driving behind the wheel.
A ride along in the Lexus IS F CCS-R capped off an already surreal track day experience. This fully race-prepped IS F was driven by none other than Scion team driver and Formula D drifter Ken Gushi. With the engine left pretty much stock, the rest of the car has been worked over to proper race spec. The result is an incredibly capable car (in the hands of a proper driver) that displays real handling prowess without the need for crazy horsepower. If there were ever an excuse to take your IS F and turn it into a track day weapon, this example is it.