the high price of refinement
Mechanical brilliance from engineering magicians
The Lexus LFA is a bit of an oddball as supercars go. On one hand it’s a shining achievement in supercar building. On the other it’s extremely expensive when compared to other similarly capable cars. Its engine makes 553 horsepower and it has a top speed of 202 mph. Considering that a Nissan GT-R, which costs much, much less than the LFA will go very nearly as fast, what the hell were Lexus playing at selling LFAs for $375,000? 50 of the limited run of 500 cars got the special Nurburgring package which pushed the price to $445,000. It’s one of the most expensive Japanese road cars ever built.
Exclusivity aside, there are a few areas in which the LFA is really rather special. It’s the result of over a decade of development from some of the finest car builders in the world; of insane attention to detail and driving feel. At its heart sits an aluminium and titanium V10 which, so say Lexus, can rev from idle to redline in 0.6 seconds. They actually had to fit the car with a digital rev counter because an analogue one couldn’t keep up. The engineers liken the engine’s sound to “the roar of angels” and while all those angels are roaring outside the car its occupants are treated to sound delivered by two ducts which connect to the firewall and contain specially shaped ribs like a guitar. This system was tuned by Yamaha’s musical instrument people and provides an engine note in two distinct octaves.
The LFA is by no means pretty, but that’s because it was designed with the idea that form follows function. Its carbon fibre and polymer bodywork produces a lot of downforce because this is a car for driving. Ask anyone who’s had a go in one and the LFA gets a big thumbs up. It seems that this is a car built by engineering magicians to be the best that a car that doesn’t obsess over being at the cutting edge of the cutting edge can be. It inspires confidence because it’s familiar and it excites because it’s very fast. It’s in the same family as the cars that people learn to drive in, only it’s a much finer product. It’s incredibly advanced and painstakingly designed and built, but it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel with unproven and experimental technology. It has mechanical suspension, not some super-reactive computer controlled business, just really, really good mechanical suspension. It’s an expensive car for the well-heeled driver, not the flashy poseur, and for that reason it deserves respect.