I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘Good things come to those who wait?’ It’s something that I’ve always believed in, as it’s always proven to come true in a lot of the cool things I get up to as a hunter of speed. The other weekend, on the way down to the Wekfest Japan event in Nagoya, it once again came into context.
The plan was to meet up with Takemi-san and the entire Lexon crew at their shop in Sagamihara, drop off my Legacy there, and then ride down in one of the three show cars they planned to display at the event.
Now, I have driven and ridden in my fair share of sweet cars since I started shooting and writing about them, but there has been one that I’ve yet to properly sample. The Lexus LFA. A few years back, during one of our Australian Speedhunting expeditions, we got the chance to snap away at Lexus’s own car at its HQ in Sydney. The closest I got to experiencing its performance that time was sitting in the driver’s seat and firing up the V10 so I could grab a few tachometer shots. What a tease, right?
This time however – despite still not being given a chance to drive the bloody thing – I did at least get to ride shotgun with Takemi, and blast down the smooth tarmac of the Shin-Tomei expressway on the way to Nagoya.
It was a great preview to a car that later on that day I’d be shooting a full feature on. Finally, I got to feel the LFA’s carbon chassis do its thing through the faster corners, and that screaming V10, well… scream like no other V10 road car engine has ever screamed before! Having already racked up over 30,000km, Lexon’s car gets properly used, and from the sounds of it, it hasn’t been babied at all. In fact, the suspension felt like it was a little tired and in need of a refresh.
Hours upon hours of aural delight later, we eventually arrived at our location for the day: Chūbu Centrair International Airport, located a little way down Nagoya Bay.
To be more precise, at our disposal was an empty aircraft hanger – a huge space that was all mine for a couple of hours. Well, I did have to share it with Chris from Vossen Wheels who had flown in from Florida, USA, to do a video piece on the LFA – but you get what I’m saying. Shooting on location in Japan, space is one thing I’m definitely not used to having, so this was like a dream come true. I really have thank Tochigi-san, Japan’s Vossen distributor, for setting it all up!
It was the perfect place to quietly indulge in one of Japan’s most important cars of all time, and see how Lexon has approached a couple of subtle modifications. The one-piece carbon front diffuser extends all the way underneath the engine to join up to the covered underfloor. As you can see, it follows the contour of the bumper and extends at each corner to accentuate the whole front end.
It especially looks the part when you see the car travelling at speed. Leaning out of the Lexon LS460 to grab photos like this one was one experience I won’t forget anytime soon. After I managed to grab a few shots, Takemi couldn’t resist dropping it down three or four gears, which all but made my eardrums bleed!
The front diffuser section is part of the ever-growing Lexon Exclusive line, which is offered for pretty much every Lexus model out there.
The F Sport badge is offered on a variety of Lexus models now, but let’s not forget where the ‘Fuji’ emblem originated from…Riding On VFS-2s
The first time I saw the Lexon LFA was at StanceNation Japan last year, and at that time it was fitted with RAYS wheels. However, for Wekfest Japan Takemi decided to change things up a little and introduce a matching theme across all of his demo cars.
That’s why the car was sitting on Vossen VFS-2s. The wheels are 20×9.5-inch at the front (the factory-spec size) and feature Vossen’s new mid concave face, while at the rear, wider-than-stock 20×12-inch numbers with a deep concave face bring a really aggressive look. They’re all wrapped in the OEM-spec Potenza RE050 run-flat tyres that Lexus developed with Bridgestone specifically for the LFA.
The VFS-2 design, with its concave spokes, brings a unique look to the car, and the wheels themselves are manufactured using Vossen’s new flow forming technology which brings strength and lightness to the wheel barrels. Not surprisingly, there were no shortage of curious onlookers at the Lexon booth the following day as it’s not often you see an LFA, let alone one fitted with aftermarket rims!
The silver polish finish of the wheels, much like the Pearl White body, really popped under the strong light that was coming in through the skylights, and I couldn’t help but go crazy with the camera. I mean, it’s not everyday you are presented with such a thing of beauty to shoot.
Walking around the car and looking at it from every angle, it was hard not to be amazed. Lexus really helped step up the level of quality for supercars with the LFA, and what makes things even more impressive is that its development actually began over 10 years ago. There are rumours that there was some redesign along the way which caused the delay, and one ride in the car is all that is needed to sense this. Why? Because the only thing letting it down is the single-clutch transmission that Lexus decided to go with – technology that was surpassed even before the car went into production.A V10 Like No Other
Riding in the LFA, the transmission was indeed a bit of a disappointment; neck-snapping upshifts reminding me of the brutal gear changes the E60 M5 used to unleash on your body. The downshifts however seem to be spot on every time, and the sheer speed in which the engine can go from 1,000rpm to 9,000rpm and then back again is probably the reason there is no delay. Much like the Lamborghini Gallardo and (old) Audi R8 ‘boxes, you can smooth the upshifts out by a well-timed lift off the throttle, but in this day and age of instantaneously-shifting dual-clutch transmissions, this is something nobody would want to deal with. However, the masterpiece of natural aspiration under the hood quickly makes you forget any shortcomings the driveline might have…
When compared to the 5.2L engine in the new Lamborghini Huracan, or the big capacity motor in the Viper, it might not be the most powerful V10 engine out there – but what this unit lacks in outright performance and pace it more than makes up for with character. The response, the willingness to rev and the mix of frequencies that are channeled into the cabin make sure that every spurt of acceleration is goose-bump inducing.
The noise that emits from the triple rear pipes is quite special too – especially for anyone following the LFA.
Looking at the LFA it was a bit sad to think that so few were built. But that design language, it’s so Toyota/Lexus, and you just can’t help but wonder what else will come from them in the future. The upcoming RCF, a hot version of the GS maybe, and the FT-1 concept are all tantalising propositions.
Hopefully Toyota’s interest in building exciting cars like these will help wake up the other Japanese manufacturers who are lagging behind.
Three simple letters that mean so much.
To me, these little rear side spoiler additions are the only disappointing aspect of the exterior. They seem like such an afterthought and don’t even appear to be made out of carbon fiber. What a travesty!
They look even more out of place when the big carbon fiber main wing lifts up in the air. A switch in the cabin raises that, but for some reason it’s located behind the passenger side seat. Uh?
But I’m really just nitpicking, because there is very little to fault here. It’s not what the car can or cannot do – it’s the sheer achievement of it all. It’s not often a mass producer of cars steps up to the challenge of building a supercar, let alone manages to create something on-par with the best out there. Except that was a few years ago, and since then the ante has really been upped. Will Lexus respond?
We can only hope so!
The LFA’s interior really set the design language and dynamics for the entire current Lexus generation. The stepped dashboard, the swooping transmission tunnel, the moving digital instrumentation – all topped off with Lexus’s top notch build standards and quality materials.
I still can’t believe the new IS features a very similar dash set up to the LFA. Lexus definitely doesn’t screw around! As I mentioned in the first feature I ran on the LFA three years ago, the digital tachometer actually came out of necessity when Lexus discovered that no analogue dial would actually keep up with the ridiculously fast pace the engine can build and drop revs.
The orange leather interior trim that was chosen is certainly on the wilder side of the options list, but I felt it was a great choice against the simple exterior tone.
I’m very happy that I can now say I’ve at least sat shotgun in an LFA, but truth be told I’m not done quite yet. I’m not tired of waiting. I will continue to be patient – right up until that day when a chance to drive this all-carbon supercar will present itself. Until then, I’ll just give a big thumbs up to Takemi and the Lexon guys for showing me what the LFA is all about.
Dino Dalle Carbonare