How I managed to get behind the wheel of a Lexus LFA
This is a car story and also a review... so, is it a carview? a revstory?
It's been seven years now so I can safely admit that in 2014, when I drove a Lexus LFA, I only managed to do it because I posed as a potential buyer. I know, I know, that's a no-no but come on we've all done it (right?). And if you're the owner of said LFA, I apologize and I'm glad you eventually sold it for megabucks. I also feel like the story needs some context.
This (link above) is the scene that made me fall in love with the car. In the Fast Five ending scene, we get to see how Dom and his crew spent the money they stole from the drug lord in Brazil, the baddie in the movie, and Han (Sung Kang) is seen driving the LFA on the German Autobahn with Gisele (Gal Gadot) in the passenger seat. Well, she's not exactly in the seat but that's not the point.
It was the high-pitch growl that did it. The sound recordist managed to capture the exact magic of the car perfectly, probably because he too realized that the LFA's best feature is by far and away the noise that comes out of its exhaust. It became an obsession. I spent three years searching for a car to drive and then in the early part of 2014 I found it, in white, available from a showroom in Monte Carlo. I knew I was going to go to Monaco for the Top Marques event in April and so I got in touch with the owner.
We're all familiar with the LFA. For starters it was built by Toyota using the Lexus marque, a brand that had never done anything even remotely similar before. It is also rare, only 500 ever built, and expensive, with a price tag of $375,000 when it was new. When it first debuted, eyebrows were raised and questions were asked. But everyone's questions got a clear answer when people actually got to drive it because the LFA was unanimously and summarily described as a masterpiece. Yes, no cup holders and no phone connectivity. So what?
It is low and wide, and it looks surprisingly compact. It measure 4.5 metres in length, which makes it marginally longer than a VW Golf but shorter than a Volvo V60. It looks like it was carved from a solid block of carbon fibre with a hammer, which is more or less exactly what happened. It took 9 years to develop. It was actually ready after 5 years but just before they were due to put it into production, engineers decided it would be better if the body were made from carbon fibre and so they told Lexus, with a straight face presumably, that they were going to need some extra cash. A lot of cash. They started from scratch, built the car from carbon fibre and then tweaked every little detail to perfection.
There’s a single clutch gearbox, because Lexus engineers believed it was a better option than the usual dual-clutch, and there’s a 4.8-litre V10, which puts out 552 hp and 354 torques, enough to propel it from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 203 mph. Behind the wheel of the car, on the way back to the hotel, I was suddenly aware of the fact that I'd have to give it back and carry on with my day. I thought to myself “there’s no way I’ll ever drive a better car”. There are a lot of great cars I haven’t driven. The Huayra, for example. Or the Veyron. So I guess at some point I might change my mind. I just don't see how.
I must've written a thousand reviews on the LFA, including the only review I've ever written in Spanish, and I'll never run out of epithets. Furthermore, I wrote about the LFA for my first ever post on Drivetribe four years ago. Even Jeremy Clarkson made a comment.
En primer lugar, perdón por mi Español porque sé que no es muy bueno.
It's an odd way to live a life, this. A strange hobby, or profession if for some miracle you manage to make ends meet by doing it. "What do you do?" "I drive cars I can't afford and pretend my opinion matters to people who can afford them". I see.
It's like a pie. Sometimes not everyone gets a bite. And sometimes you get what you get and it may be enough. I'd rather own an LFA than drive it for two hours. But I'd rather drive it for two hours than not at all.