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Review (2/2)

High-Revving Engine

At the heart of the LFA lies a specifically developed V10 engine that sets new automotive standards for compact dimensions, lightweight architecture and scintillating performance. From the outset, Tanahashi and his engineers determined the LFA's front mid-mounted powerplant would have a 4805 cc capacity, would develop 552 hp and rev to a wailing 9,000 rpm redline. It would feature a 72° angle between cylinder heads - the perfect angle for both primary and secondary balance in a V10 engine for incredibly smooth running characteristics. It would be naturally aspirated for a linear and predictable power delivery, with exceptional throttle response from individual, electronically controlled throttle bodies for each cylinder.

It would feature a dry sump lubrication system that would not only position the block deep within the engine bay to lower the center of gravity and lower the car's moment of inertia, but also enable the engine to handle sustained, high-speed cornering. And it would deliver exceptional mid-range responsiveness as well as a powerful top-end performance.

The V10 powerplant generates 354 lb-ft of torque at 6,800 rpm. The application of VVT-i variable valve timing with intelligence on both intake and exhaust combined with equal length exhaust manifolds and high-volume 12-hole fuel injectors results in 90% of this formidable torque being available between 3,700 rpm and the 9,000 rpm red line, for searing in-gear acceleration at any engine speed and in any gear. The result is a 0 - 60 mph (96km/h) time of just 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph (325km/h) - exhilarating performance from a bone fide supercar.

Drawing on its motorsport experience (the LFA competed in the grueling Nürburgring 24 Hours race in Germany in both 2008 and 2009) the LFA team also engineered the powerplant with a track-oriented dry sump system. This system not only allows it to withstand sustained cornering forces in excess of 2G - a fundamental requirement of high speed, race track performance - it also significantly increases oil cooling efficiency.

Each cylinder features an independent, electronically controlled throttle body to ensure engine intake air takes the shortest and most efficient route. It features prioritized control logic functionality: an innovative system that estimates the intake air volume based on the throttle pedal angle, allowing it to calculate the appropriate fuel injection volume far more quickly than any conventional system. The result is an engine that responds incredibly quickly to even the smallest and subtlest inputs from the forged aluminum, floor-mounted throttle.

So successful was this low-friction program that the engine can rev from idle to its 9,000 rpm redline in just six tenths of a second - an inertia-free flexibility derived exclusively from the team's race-borne engineering skills. This necessitated the need for a digital rev counter, since an analog system simply could not keep pace with the engine's incredible ability to gain and lose revolutions.

Lightning-Quick Automated Sequential Gearbox (ASG)

The V10's explosive performance is managed by an equally advanced transmission. The LFA's specifically developed all-new, six-speed Automated Sequential Gearbox (ASG) drives the rear wheels through a torque-sensing Limited Slip Differential, and is mounted in transaxle layout over the rear axle to achieve an optimal, 48:52 weight distribution.

Operated by steering wheel column-mounted paddle shifters, the ASG transmission works hand-in- with the engine to help put the driver in full control even under the most extreme driving conditions. Fitted with micro polished gears for precise gearshifts and to reduce gear whine, this intelligent transmission is engineered to execute incredibly quick gearshifts, and can upshift in just 0.2 seconds.

In addition to the traction-enhancing limited slip differential, the ASG transmission also features four driving modes - AUTO, SPORT, NORMAL and WET - actuated by a dash-mounted Mode dial. Featuring specific gearshift programming, each mode has its own engine and brake control logic systems, allowing the driver to select the mode best suited to under-tire conditions.

Formula 1-Inspired Soundtrack

"The Lexus LFA is a car with relentless power delivery and an accompanying exhaust note to give you goose bumps," enthuses its chief engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi. He and his team have enhanced and fine tuned the acoustics of the LFA's ground-breaking V10 powerplant to deliver an awe-inspiring soundtrack - from idle note to red-line wail - for those both inside and outside of the cabin.

The LFA's acoustic team studied the unmistakable soundtrack generated by a Formula 1 car at maximum revs. By emphasizing the secondary combustion frequency of the LFA's engine and then introducing primary, secondary and tertiary firing harmonics, Tanahashi and his team created a signature exhaust note unlike that of any other road car.

This incredible soundtrack that significantly enhances the sensation of acceleration and speed was only made possible by meticulously tuning the LFA's multi-stage exhaust system. The left and right banks of the engine feature separate, equal-length, large diameter exhaust manifolds that not only enhance high-rev torque levels but also create a crisp and harmonious sound quality. After exiting the catalytic converters, the separate left and right exhausts flow through a smaller silencer box and then into the main multi-stage silencer housed behind the rear transaxle gearbox.

Ceramic Brakes

Appropriate to the immense power of the high-revving V10 engine, chief engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi and his team have equipped the LFA with one of the most advanced and powerful braking systems fitted to a production car. "In order to go, you have to be able to stop," explains Tanahashi, "and we have engineered the LFA's brake system to give any driver the confidence to explore speeds in the realms of 202 mph (325km/h)."

While the LFA development car that competed in the 2008 and 2009 Nürburgring 24 Hour races used conventional iron brake discs, Tanahashi initiated a switch to advanced Carbon Ceramic Material (CCM) brake discs. These offer a vital weight saving - each CCM disc is 11 lb (5kg) lighter than the previous iron discs - that significantly reduces unsprung weight to the benefit of steering precision and dynamic agility. Compared to conventional iron brake discs, CCM discs also deliver exceptional fade-free braking for confidence-inspiring performance under even the most demanding of driving conditions.

LFA's Track-Tuned Suspension

The LFA rides on a new, high-performance, double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension layout, developed after extensive work at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, to deliver clear and vital steering and chassis feedback to the driver, perfectly balancing on-the-limit capability, exceptional levels of grip and secure high-speed stability.

Manufactured from aluminum, the hollow suspension members are stiff and strong enough for track work, this rigidity effectively controlling tire contact patch and toe angle when cornering, delivering excellent cornering control, both at initial turn-in and mid-turn, and exceptional levels of outright traction.

The two independent lower wishbones feature an H-beam profile rather than a traditional I-beam for added strength. They shorten the offset of the virtual kingpin axis from the tire centerline for excellent road compliance and neutral response in all driving situations. The straight extended arms reduce unwanted suspension movement for exceptional grip over undulating surfaces, while the aluminum, remote-reservoir monotube dampers are the same as those fitted to the LFA Nürburgring 24 Hour race car.

Exterior Design

Sleek, athletic and muscular, the low-slung LFA coupe exudes supercar style from every curve and angle.

Dictated by its front-mid engine layout, long wheelbase and short overhangs, sophisticated aerodynamics and snug, low-slung cabin, the LFA's coherent lines flow from roof to sill in a seamless convex to concave line. As well as its low weight and high strength, carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) also gave the LFA's designers a far higher degree of design freedom, allowing them to create shapes, curves and edges that would have been impossible with metal.

The LFA's clean styling is also free of token fripperies, reflecting both the L-finesse approach to uncluttered design and the mechanical purity that lies beneath its composite skin. Its numerous air-intakes and aerodynamic features, for example, fulfill a functional role first and an aesthetic role second - a clear example of form following function in the L-finesse idiom.

The LFA features advanced lighting systems: piercing, bi-Xenon high-intensity headlamps, complete with wiperlinked jet cleaners are complemented by a trio of high visibility LED brake lights.

Designed not to interrupt the clean lines of the LFA's flanks, its letter-box style door handles are secreted in the door uppers, and, in a similar move, the LFA features a double-blade, single-sweep wiper with a consistently generous wipe area. The car's glazing also came under the weight-saving scrutiny of the LFA's engineering team, which opted for ultra-thin 0.2 in (4.76mm) laminated infrared-reducing green glass for the front screen and tough lightweight polycarbonate resin glass for the rear quarterlight windows and the partition that separates the cabin from the luggage bay.

The LFA's rear features a striking exhaust baffle with a trio of stacked exhaust outlets. Finished in heat-resistant black coating, this stainless steel baffle offsets the polished rims of the exhausts. It also features an imperceptible gap between the exhaust pipe and the baffle to enhance its technical appearance.

The LFA Cockpit

Swinging open the LFA's doors reveals a dramatic low-slung cockpit that has been intelligently designed and hand-assembled with the finest materials to reflect the car's driver-centric dynamics. The intimate two-seater cabin has been conceived at every stage - ergonomics, acoustics, materials, comfort, versatility and visibility levels have all been painstakingly engineered - to put the driver at the center of the driving equation.

The cabin is logically divided into three zones. The first is the mechanical zone, the skeleton that emphatically underlines the LFA's supercar performance. Next is the human zone, the seats to support occupants even during extreme driving. And finally the driving zone, the instrumentation interface that brings driver and machine together. The LFA's leather-wrapped seats are orthopedically designed with a split rear backrest, pronounced side bolsters and eight-way electric adjustment to deliver both superb long-distance comfort and outstanding levels of support.

Adopting a mid-front engine layout created the ideal longitudinal position for the seats - at the center of the vehicle's wheelbase and laterally as close to the car's center as possible, a position that allows the driver to feel and respond intuitively the changes in the vehicle's behavior. Creating a narrow center tunnel to house the horizontally stacked torque tube and exhaust pipes allowed the LFA's engineers to position the seats as low and as close together in the chassis as possible, further enhancing driving control and pleasure.

The hooded instrument panel takes center stage. Despite its compact dimensions, its advanced technology enables it to deliver an exceptionally high level of information to the driver in a clear and logical manner. It combines a Liquid Crystal Display panel with a color Thin Film Transistor and a motor-driven movable ring. The single central circular dial combines Lexus sophistication with the cutting edge precision befitting a 325km/h supercar.

The central tachometer runs to 10,000rpm and features a fast-reacting LCD needle designed to exactly replicate the V10 engine's insatiable appetite for revs. Housed within the dial are the digital speedometer, gear indicator, transmission mode, vehicle control data, trip information displays and Tire Pressure Warning System display.

Displaying this data on the color TFT LCD panel delivers superior visual clarity in even the brightest of conditions. The acrylic lens in the metal ring is composed of multiple layers to create an advanced, three-dimensional appearance. The overall appearance of the meter changes according to the vehicle's mode, acting as an unmistakable reminder to the driver of the mode in which the car is operating.

When the engine speed exceeds 9,000rpm, the tachometer display area turns red to prime the driver for the next upshift. The display area can also be set by the driver to change illumination - to either yellow or green - when the engine speed reaches a user-selected range.

Only 20 Made per Month

The Lexus LFA will be hand-assembled at the LFA Works at Motomachi plant in Toyota City. Only 500 examples will be built, at a maximum rate of just 20 per month to ensure peerless build quality and attention to detail during the customization process. Assembled by a single engineer, each V10 engine will bear his signature, a testament to the LFA's bespoke nature.

The Lexus LFA Nurburgring Edition

Lexus offers a limited edition Nürburgring Package to LFA customers. The 4.8L V10 engine for Nürburgring Package equipped LFA's will produce 562 horsepower, 10 more horsepower than the standard high-performance LFA. The gear-shift time has been reduced by 0.05 seconds to only 0.15 seconds for even faster gear changes.

The Nürburgring Package is limited to only 50 units out of the 500 LFA hand-assembled for global distribution. It will also have a sport-tuned suspension, exclusive black mesh-type wheels and dedicated high-grip tires for better handling. The LFA Nürburgring Edition will also have a larger front spoiler and fixed rear wing for improved high speed down force.

This limited edition LFA will be available in four exterior colors - whitest white, orange, black and matte black complemented by a choice of three interior colors - black, red, and violet. All come with a carbon fiber center console and door trim. The Nürburgring Package will carry a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $70,000. Matte black will carry an additional cost of $20,000.

In addition to the Nürburgring vehicle specifications, a package of special privileges is included in association with the Nürburgring course itself. The perks comprise, but are not limited to, private parking, co-pilot ride, one night at the Lindner Congress and Motorsport Hotel Nürburgring, private training with Nürburgring chief driving instructor, a Nürburgring branded jacket, as well as a one-year annual pass valid for driving on the Nordschleife and admission to ring-werk leisure park.

Lexus LFA: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications

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