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Lexus LFA 2011 review

There are just a handful of Lexus LFA supercars running around in Australia but already, the Japanese luxury car maker has launched a performance-enhanced model named after the legendary Nurburgring race track in Germany. It's called the LFA Nurburgring Edition and is a more track-focused version of the LFA -- if that's possible. Only 50 will be made.

Technology

Where the standard LFA runs a 412kW/480Nm, 4.8-litre V10 engine, the Nurburgring model is pumped up to 420kW with the same torque output. The compact, dry sump V10, hand-built in two days at motorcycle manufacturer Yamaha by one of four engine builders, features cylinder heads by Yamaha and a block from Toyota.

Yamaha has a long association with Toyota, Lexus' parent company. The LFA engine uses high quality forged pistons, valves and conrods and has direct fuel injection among a raft of high tech' features. It's fitted front/midships and is connected, transaxle style, to the rear-mounted six- speed automated manual transmission by a carbon fibre torque tube. This gives the rear drive LFA an ideal 48/52 balance front to rear. Engine redline is 9000rpm.

Both the standard and Nurburgring models are capable of despatching a 0-100kmh dash in around 3.7 seconds and top out at 325kmh. This is slap bang in supercar territory and up with the latest from Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Design

The fully kitted standard model weighs in at 1580kg, the Nurburgring model is 100 kegs less. It has more down force courtesy of a large, fixed, rear carbon fibre wing, winglets on the front bumper, larger front spoiler, low 100mm ride height and carbon fibre interior trim.

The double wishbone front and multi link rear suspension has been slightly retuned with stiffer responses. Lexus didn't hold back on quality components for LFA equipping it with carbon ceramic front discs of 390mm diameter with six piston calipers. The rears are slightly smaller with four pistons. Forged alloy 20-inch wheels run Bridgestone high performance rubber and the KYB dampers feature remote reservoirs for superior and consistent performance. Buyers score race tuition and a year's pass to drive the Nordscheleife (Northern Loop) of the Nurburgring.

LFA is an incredible car from a technical standpoint because apart from the mind boggling engine with arguably the best exhaust note in existence, it is 65 per cent carbon fibre with the majority of the chassis and body in the stuff. The rest is aluminium. Lexus attaches the two materials to each other with aluminium brackets baked into the carbon fibre.

Special carbon fibre ovens and techniques to handle it were developed during the 10 year LFA program which started in 2001. Initially, the car was to be all aluminium but this was changed in 2005 to carbon fibre. Lexus makes 20 LFAs a month with total production amounting to only 500 units. It is a loss making enterprise for Lexus which obviously places greater value on the publicity and new perceptions LFA will generate.

Driving

Marking the arrival of the Nurburgring Edition was a special test week held at the Nurburgring to which we were invited and allowed five unfettered laps of the 21km Nordschleife. It was like a bucket-list tick off for anyone with benzene in their veins - a supercar drive at the world's most demanding race track with 140 plus corners and a fearsome reputation. With a degree of trepidation, we sprung out of pit lane in the orange projectile for a pilot lap behind a Nurburgring specialist leading in a Lexus ISF.

This 'sighting' lap took around 9 minutes and then it was over to us. The LFA is near perfect weapon for the Nordschleife because it has almost endless power and torque, controlled and responsive dynamics and brakes that never go away. We would be ripping up to a tight turn at warp speed and simply stab the brakes, flick the wheel a touch and the LFA was around and the right foot was (re) planted to the firewall.

It steers with such precision and has such prodigious grip that an accompanying Lexus ISF race car looked like a bucking dray. But that's not fair, the LFA is a tame race car built to impeccable standards while the ISF is a weighty, sports luxury sedan. It's intersting that none of the owners of the first run of LFAs has taken it on a race track. Shame, but word has it that some of the 10 Aussie LFA owners will break the cycle - here's to them.

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 4.8L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO No recent listings 2011 Lexus LFA 2011 (base) Pricing and Specs
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