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Lexus LFA in the super test: Japanese shows its Nordschleife genes

Rossen Gargolov
Lexus LFA in the super test
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Started with a white sheet of paper at L exus ten years ago the development of a super sports car with the aim of being exceptional in every respect. The result is the Lexus LFA - a very remarkable, but basically traditional front /mid-engine sports car with typical Japanese characteristics.

Lexus LFA on par with European competitors

Often they are the down-to-earth solutions that, after decades of research, characterized by bold plans and various errands, emerge as the best alternatives. Despite rapid development activities around the world and groundbreaking results in materials research, tried-and-tested solutions and concepts appear again and again, which apparently cannot be surpassed in their ingenuity. The front /mid-engine concept, for example - ideally in conjunction with the transaxle principle - which provides for the consistent separation of engine and transmission for weight reasons. From a technological point of view, both are old camels, but those that are used again and again as a technical starting point by even the most daring sports car designers. Because from a factual point of view there is only one conceivable alternative to it - the closely related mid-engine concept in which the engine is not implanted in front of the crew's feet, but behind their back.

The fact that other layouts - engine above the front axle or behind the rear axle - also work excellently if only the right people with the necessary know-how are behind them is just as much a truism as the fact that the technical effort tends to be The smaller it is, the more evenly the wheel load distribution is anchored in the concept. And this is definitely the case with the present layout. Although no conditions were set by management when the Lexus LFA was keeled in 2000, apart from the one requirement that the first Lexus super sports car had to 'convey sustainable and unmistakable driving experiences', the front /mid-engine concept was one of 500 requirements that were considered mandatory in order to be able to build the best possible super sports car of Japanese origin: 'There were no other specifications, which is why we engineers in terms of material selection, internal performance requirements and process technologywere able to break new ground. '

The bold undertaking of creating a super sports car out of nowhere and with almost no financial shackles that is at least on a par with the long-established German, Italian and American competition, With regard to the now finished result, the Lexus LFA, the outcome was very ambiguous. On the one hand, there are unsurprising, almost traditional-looking sports car lines with a high level of conceptual awareness. On the other hand, many hidden, clever and equally immense are convincing expensive innovations, which after decades of brooding development work shaped a super sports car that could hardly be more Japanese. That makes the Lexus LFA not only original and extremely likeable for those who have a weakness for it - it also makes it terribly expensive in the end.

The Lexus LFA provides several driving modes

And, as crazy as it sounds, that's why it is extremely sought-after. The price of the Lexus LFA: 375,000 euros. The ability to deliver: very limited. The batch planned for Germany, 14 copies of the Lexus LFA, is reportedly already in firm hands. And an expansion of the total Lexus LFA production - 500 pieces - is not considered. The fear of having missed something really big in terms of driving dynamics if you couldn't get hold of it, however, seems rather unfounded in view of the results shown. After all, there are comparable experts in their field who can defend themselves well against this extremely sharp Japanese weapon in various fields - as the environment of the Lexus LFA competitors proves.

In addition to the numerical arguments, the Lexus LFA has a few special features in store, which - even if not relevant in terms of driving dynamics - may help expand the horizon or at least increase the entertainment value. If, for example, the rev counter with a different color background (blue-black and white) moves to the side at the push of a button, as if by magic, to reveal further submenu displays (oil level, tire pressure and stopwatch) or if the pointer of the rev counter can be adjusted in color to suit the mood the entertainment program of the Lexus LFA is always interesting. And if the optical and acoustic warning threshold for the gearshift speed can be freely selected, then it is even more a matter of course for a super sports car from the land of the rising sun that the automated, sequential six-speed transmission also provides several driving modes - car, sport, Normal and Wet.

The programs, which are conveniently selected using a rotary switch on the impressive instrument panel, each have their own engine and brake control characteristics, which enable the Lexus LFA driver to optimally adapt to the differentDriving conditions enabled. The adaptive chassis on board naturally provides the right damper characteristics for comfortable cross-country travel as well as for exploring the limit area on the racetrack. Even if the latter is no longer necessarily a unique selling point, and the Lexus LFA engine in its configuration - 72-degree V10 - is also not conceptually unique, at this point at the latest it must be noted with great respect that it is here It is a very special machine, one with a most remarkable attitude. The four-valve naturally aspirated engine developed together with Yamaha, for example, easily revs up to 9,000 rpm while idling in just six tenths of a second.

Formula 1 atmosphere in the Lexus LFA

Nobody would seriously try that in practice (we also did not measure it in the Lexus LFA's super test), but Lexus will prove it shows how ultra-fast the ten-cylinder reacts to the smallest bursts of gas. It is the extremely light crankshaft drive, the connecting rods and valves made of titanium, the rocker arms with a hard carbon-silicon coating and integrated oil spray nozzles as well as the reduced internal friction in all relevant areas, which together ensure that this almost five-liter V- Ten cylinders can in fact be counted among the highest revving sports engines of all. The shrill sound that creates goosebumps doesn’t come across as grandiose and thrilling as with the exalted racing versions, which caused amazed faces and enthusiastic expressions at the 24h races on the Nordschleife as part of the Lexus LFA final test. In the supertest, the Lexus LFA always screams for repetition in its remaining imposing state, as it now raises its characteristic voice at a very acceptable volume.

Despite his impressive visual presence, which - incidentally - clearly identifies him as a representative of the Japanese delegation, he is more closed to outsiders than one would assume based on his exhaust triumvirate. This underlines once again the overall very civilized manners of the Lexus LFA in the test. With him everything was actually thought of, every aspect checked and all eventualities questioned. How good that at least in the cockpit and at the latest when approaching the red speed range there is almost a Formula 1 atmosphere. In view of the crank drive, which seems to have been freed from any inertia, it is almost to be complained that the stable idling is adjusted below 1,000 revolutions. Because the Lexus LFA's similarly impressive, sudden death when the gasoline and power supply is interrupted is an unmistakable sign of racing origins -and thus a fascinating process, which is obviously all the more impressive the higher the speed was set when the 'Off' switch was pressed.

It doesn't matter - the enormous potential for enthusiasm of this ten-cylinder remains so fully effective, which means that this engine can be given a place in the all-time list of the best. The connection that the 560 PS strong and short-stroke engine with a bearish torque of 480 Newton meters had to enter into transmission technology is, however, audibly and perceptibly afflicted with compromises for reasons that are difficult to understand given the depth of development shown so far. As appropriately quick and efficient the gear changes in the Lexus LFA are - in the sportiest of seven levels within 0.2 seconds: the changes do not take place without grinding, scraping or clacking noises, especially if one is in the mood for polished driving culture - so when driving slowly and correspondingly more leisurely gear activity. The sophistication and speed of a modern, sportily configured dual clutch transmission, such as that used in the new BMW M3 GTS, cannot be achieved by the automated, sequential six-speed transmission regardless of its technical functionality.

Lexus LFA offers top sporting performance with full Comfort

Which is why the question arises why the fathers of the Lexus allowed themselves an exception to the rule on this point alone, which says: only the best and the latest are just good enough. This is shown, for example, by the fact that the Lexus LFA was still on the road with an aluminum chassis until its fourth year of maturity. The changeover to a significantly lighter and at the same time stiffer construction made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) was initiated on the occasion of a new, in-house process which, according to the manufacturer, made a plastic technology based on space programs manageable for the first time. For the components for the rigid and stable structure of the passenger cell, the labor-intensive and costly 'prepreg' manual production process is used, in which carbon fiber mats impregnated with thermosetting liquid resin are heated in an oven and pressed into shapes. The CFRP components for the floor pan with integrated transmission tunnel, roof and hood of the Lexus LFA are manufactured using a process in which the liquid resin is incorporated into dry, pre-formed carbon fiber parts prior to heating and curing.

Approximately 65 percent of the net weight of the Lexus LFA body is made up of this material; the remaining 35 percent on parts made of light metal alloys. According to the manufacturer, the strength is four times higher than that of the aluminum initially used, which is accompanied by a weight saving of a full 100 kilograms. That the lived passion in terms ofWeight reduction is in fact not as impressive as hoped due to the depth in the substance, is one of the tragedies that become evident in the environment of the Lexus LFA. Nobody knows exactly why the Lexus LFA weighs almost 1,600 kilograms when the chassis and body are mainly made of carbon fiber materials and even the V10 engine with only 200 kilograms is an athletic lightweight - but that explains nothing dispensing equipment program that the Lexus LFA holds as standard.

An outstanding audio system from Mark Levinson with twelve loudspeakers included - at least in a lighter version. As always, the diametrically opposed interests - consistent striving for driving dynamics on the one hand and the fulfillment of comfort and luxury requirements on the other - apparently collided in the final spurt of development in the Lexus LFA as well. The feeling of being torn to and fro between the fronts is not only familiar to the designers - the customers also know a thing or two about it: top sporting performance, if you please, but not at the expense of comfort and certainly not up Cost of health.

How well do you know the super test candidate? Find the right pairs of photos and solve the Lexus LFA picture puzzle.

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