Thursday, October 21, 2010

2011 Lexus LFA Review

Lexus builds its first-ever supercar with the 2011 Lexus LFA. Known primarily for its highly refined luxury cars, Lexus isn't a car company one would mention in the same breath as Ferrari or Lamborghini. Developed at the famed Nürburgring racetrack in Germany and priced at over 300 large (the latest estimate is $350,000), the Lexus LFA will be constructed chiefly of carbon fiber and weigh a relatively svelte 3,263 pounds.
Equipped with a six-speed single-clutch automated manual transmission, the 2011 Lexus LFA can leap to 60 mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 202 mph.
Only 500 Lexus LFAs will be produced for worldwide sale, and Lexus will actually lease the cars (with an option to buy) to discourage speculators.
The impossibly anal approach Toyota took when building the Lexus LFA.

First, the engine is located way back in the engine bay and mounts to a 6-speed rear-mounted transaxle through a carbon torque tube. That accounts for the CoG's position front-to-rear, but not vertically. That was achieved by using a world's first counter gear to raise the relative height of the torque tube, allowing the engine to be mounted incredibly low in the car, accounting for the CoG's height.

As a statement of technological ability and performance intent, the "Lexus LFA" firmly establishes Toyota firmly within the upper echelons of sports car manufacturers.

This dramatically different Japanese sports car combines high technology with maximum user-friendliness. The carbon-fiber center tub did save 220 pounds and is four times as rigid as the previous spaceframe design, and it also taught Lexus some valuable lessons with regard to future higher-volume production concepts. To achieve the desired 48/52 percent front/rear weight distribution, the engineers opted for rear-mounted radiators and a transaxle, and they set the front-mounted engine back in the chassis. In the front, the Lexus LFA relies on an aluminum-intensive control-arm suspension and compact springs; low-friction dampers with remote fluid reservoirs; and a tubular antiroll bar. Unlike the race car that we previously sampled [October 2009], the production LFA's cabin is as lavishly equipped and as beautifully executed as any other Lexus. There are only two areas - engine characteristics as well as clutch and gearbox action - where the ultimate Japanese sports car fell somewhat short of our expectations.

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