By Matt Degen
Lexus has long made its stake on comfortable, quiet cars that emphasize a plush ride over warp-speed acceleration. The 2012 Lexus LFA is different. Over a decade in the making, the LFA is the halo of Lexus' F performance line, a lightweight supercar meant to take on the world's best, Ferraris and Lamborghinis among them. This 2-passenger, rear-wheel-drive coupe is powered by a small but mighty V10 engine that revs to 9,000 rpm and propels the car to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. Even if you can afford the $375,000 cost that comes with an LFA, your chances of getting one are slim to none. With only 500 of these cars being produced for the entire world and just a 1-year production run, the Lexus LFA is extremely rare.
Beyond its jet-fighter looks, the 2012 Lexus LFA stands out as one of but a few Japanese supercars. And with only 500 being made, owning an LFA puts you in highly exclusive company.
The LFA offers incredible performance, yes, but not the best – especially at this price. You can actually get better acceleration from a Porsche 911 Turbo and Nissan GT-R, each of which cost a fraction of the LFA price and are far more available than the Lexus.
The Lexus LFA is an all-new vehicle and is limited to just 500 cars worldwide over a 1-year production run. More than just a product, Lexus created the LFA to make a statement that it can engineer and build highly capable performance cars.
Driving Impressions The 2012 LFA aims to be about more than just velocity. While it has a stated 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and top speed of 202 mph, Lexus wanted...it still to be, well a Lexus. That meant making the LFA a comfortable car that offered the kind of luxury amenities of Lexus' other luxury vehicles. Here, the devil is in the details, with even the car's sound being perfected to give the driver "goose bumps," Lexus says. The LFA is blazingly fast, very grippy and well-controlled at speed. But if you're expecting supreme comfort, too, go elsewhere. This may be a Lexus, but it's more supercar-stiff than LS 460-plush. For the lucky few who get to purchase an LFA, they'll soon find its idiosyncrasies charming or slightly aggravating, such as the multistep starting procedure that requires turning a key, pulling both shift paddles to engage neutral, then pressing the "start" button. Once fired up, there are four modes for automatic or manual shifting.
Lexus engineers spent an almost absurd amount of time perfecting the sound of the LFA's exhaust. The car features a trio of sound channels to bring the engine's fury into the cockpit, while a "surge tank" has been tuned like a musical instrument to further bolster the exhaust note.
While V10 engines have long been found in Lamborghinis and Audis, this is the first of its kind for Lexus, and it was tailor-made for the LFA. At 4.8 liters it's relatively small for a V10 but packs a real punch on its way to a dizzying 9,000-rpm redline.
The Lexus LFA backs up its luxury credentials with leather and Alcantara surfaces, satellite navigation and a 12-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio unit. Directly in front of the driver, a high-tech LCD display displays speed, RPM and other information. Colorful leather, carbon-fiber trim and plenty of metal abound in this hand-built 2-seater. A 7-inch screen conveys information for audio, navigation and other functions. The driver controls many of them using a computer mouse-like module that sits at the front of the armrest. The seats, meanwhile, are deeply bolstered to keep driver and passenger as planted as the car.Exterior
Even among exotic cars, the Lexus LFA stands out. Part supercoupe, part jet fighter, the LFA's exterior design is a work of art that must be seen to be appreciated. The LFA has a multitude of air inlets, not the least of which are twin gaping holes on each side above and below the rear of each door. Triangular headlights create a sinister look up front, while the rear is defined by a trio of mid-mounted exhaust pipes, a speed-sensitive rear wing and blacked-out honeycomb air scoops below the taillights. The LFA's chassis and bodywork use extensive carbon fiber, which is lightweight yet strong.
All LFA models are hand-built to customer specification, but all are fitted with a V10 engine, 6-speed automated sequential gearbox, leather seating, 6-piston front and 4-piston rear brake calipers, carbon ceramic brake rotors, and 20-inch forged-aluminum 10-spoke BBS wheels. Customers can order the LFA in three configurations, which include a navigation system, a Mark Levinson surround-sound system, and Lexus' Enform infotainment system. Dual-zone climate control is also standard.
Buyers can choose from 30 exterior colors, six brake-caliper colors and 12 interior colors for the LFA. This supercar stands out in that it does not have traditional "option" packages, and Lexus is coy when it comes to costs for particular color schemes, only saying "some choices carry an additional cost." Then again, if you are lucky enough to be able to buy one of these rare cars, you won't be sneezing at such costs in addition to the $375,000 price.
The heart of every Lexus LFA is a naturally aspirated V10 engine that makes a robust 552 horsepower. Of note is that peak power comes at 8,700 rpm, 300 below the LFA's very high (for a road car) redline. The power goes to the rear wheels via a 6-speed automated sequential gearbox that has four modes, including ones that allow fully automatic shifting or shifting from the driver via steering-wheel-mounted paddles with adjustable sensitivity.
552 horsepower @ 8,700 rpm
354 lb-ft of torque @ 6,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/16 mpg
Assuming you can even find an LFA new, Lexus has set the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) at $375,000. When Lexus announced pricing on the vehicle, the caveat was that it only be available as a "2-year lease with the intent to purchase." The idea was to keep speculators from initially buying the car and then reselling it for a profit. At its MSRP, the LFA is shy of the new Lamborghini Aventador (roughly $390,000) and quite a bit higher than a Ferrari 458 Italia (around $236,000) and McLaren MP4-12C ($231,400). Because the 2012 Lexus LFA is a very limited, 1-year model, we wouldn't be surprised to see the car hold its value very well or even rise over time.