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NY Times spends time in super Lexus

946 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  2wickedtoyz

As I rocket around New Jersey Motorsports Park, this supercar physically compels me to switch off skepticism, pay heed to the racing line and happily marinate in waves of sensory stimulation: the Formula One shriek of its 552-horsepower V-10, the tightrope balance and technical precision that makes even a Corvette ZR-1 feel like a Tinkertoy.
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Fail! :D
Click HERE.....set to 00:00:16, click "start"...wait until clock reaches 00:00:00.

That is how long it takes the LFA to cross the Nurburgring finish line after the ZR1 does. :D
Very well written article. Here is the article. I agree with it. LFA offers the best of everything. Performance, 9500 rpm, the most beautiful engine sound in the business, luxury, handling, comfort, cutting-edge technology and pure race-bred engineering:

Around a race track, there is no mainstream full-luxury supercar today that can beat it including Ferrari 458 Italia. Cannot wait to see what the final product will look like.

$375,000 Lexus LFA: Ferrari Fighter or Exotic Fantasy?

IN the hermetic bubble of a racetrack — where economic reality has no pit pass — the Lexus LFA makes perfect, glorious sense.

As I rocket around New Jersey Motorsports Park, this supercar physically compels me to switch off skepticism, pay heed to the racing line and happily marinate in waves of sensory stimulation: the Formula One shriek of its 552-horsepower V-10, the tightrope balance and technical precision that makes even a Corvette ZR-1 feel like a Tinkertoy.

Hurry, ask me while I’m still in the driver’s seat: is the LFA worth $375,000? Sure, for the rare person who would prefer a supercar from Japan, not Europe.

Ask the same question after I’ve skimmed the latest unemployment figures or calculated the relative fun of, say, a $135,000 Porsche 911 Turbo, and the answer is, what, are you nuts?

Such contradictions make the LFA fodder for one of the year’s most interesting auto debates. Judged purely as an adrenaline-inducing performance tool, the Lexus tops a number of supercars I’ve driven — not just the similiarly priced Lamborghini Murciélago, but also the $1.3 million Bugatti Veyron.

As any car snob will remind you, Lexus is not Bugatti, or even Porsche. Created by Toyota just 20 years ago, Lexus can’t bank on the car-museum prestige or racing pedigree that makes millionaires’ hearts go flutter. And with apologies to Lexus, I have yet to hear anyone describe the LFA as beautiful. Even Lexus hasn’t spent much time strewing flowery adjectives over the styling, whose brute functionality recalls an Asian “Fast and Furious” movie car — albeit one on a billionaire’s budget.

What the LFA can claim is racecar-level thrills in a surprisingly comfortable, street-friendly car, developed in a cost-is-no-object program that lasted a decade. That, and exclusivity: the prototype I drove was the only LFA in the United States at the time. And, starting in December, just 500 copies will be built over two years, with 171 coming to America.

Fifty of the 500 buyers will get a higher-performing Nürburgring edition, whose $445,000 price includes driving lessons — a good idea — and a year’s pass at the famous 12.9-mile German road course for which it’s named.

During the LFA’s vexingly long gestation, Lexus showed a concept in Detroit back in 2005. Four years later, Toyota’s incoming president, Akio Toyoda, proved he wasn’t all about hybrids, racing an LFA prototype with three other drivers in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Not surprisingly, Toyota’s bosses soon approved the car for a limited factory run.

The production car is built around a carbon-fiber tub; a 4.8-liter V-10 that blisters the tachometer as it zings to 9,000 r.p.m.; and a center of gravity just 18 inches above the pavement.

Five years into the project, Lexus essentially started over. Realizing the car’s planned aluminum structure wouldn’t meet their performance targets, engineers substituted lighter carbon composite. Toyota — which officials note was started in the 1920s as the Toyoda Automatic Loom Company — had to create a unique loom to weave carbon fiber for the front roof pillars. In tandem with Yamaha engineers, Lexus tuned the engine and exhaust note as if it were a musical instrument, including a dashboard that admits only certain frequencies into the cabin. That might explain the television commercial that shows the LFA shattering not the asphalt but a champagne flute, with a crescendo of its soaring metallic tenor.

Tellingly, that ad doesn’t even mention the LFA by name. As with most “halo cars,” Lexus isn’t really selling the car, but the brand, said Paul Rohovsky, Lexus’s manager for advanced business development.

That halo-car strategy might seem logical for a Ferrari or even a BMW, whose owners obsess over performance and seek bragging rights. But will the typically conservative Lexus buyer appreciate that the brand that produced his cocoonlike LS sedan also makes the LFA? Or might a Lexus or Toyota hybrid fan wonder why Lexus is indulging fantasies with a fuel-thirsty supercar?

Mr. Rohovsky said Lexus fans were similar to the followers of other luxury marques, aspiring to the best a manufacturer can offer. “If we can do this kind of high-tech product, it tells people we can provide similar technology in your everyday car,” he said.

Mr. Rohovsky recalls driving the LFA in Southern California when the beaming owner of a Lexus IS-F sport sedan pulled alongside.

“He rolled down his window and said, ‘That’s what I want, baby,’” Mr. Rohovsky said. “He looked like the happiest guy in the world.”

Inside the LFA, the halo effect includes a 3.6-second sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour and a top speed of 202 m.p.h. Plenty of sports cars today, including the Corvette ZR-1, can claim similar numbers, and many cost a fraction of the LFA’s price. Those calculations naturally lead skeptics to dismiss the Lexus as overpriced. But number crunchers often don’t realize that statistics say little about what a car is like to drive — or how it makes an owner feel.

An initial 150 cars set aside for Americans had been spoken for by June, when Lexus allocated 21 more. For those who can’t spell “recession,” a few slots remain open. And Lexus has also eliminated a litmus test that ruffled the feathers of enthusists.

Determined to bar speculators from flipping LFAs for a quick profit, Lexus had initially set up the deals to resemble a lease — albeit one that required a customer to hand over $290,000 in cash up front, with a $93,000 option to own the LFA after 24 months.

After that stipulation gave some prospects cold feet — over issues including owner liquidity and possible entanglements in the event of a death or divorce — Lexus relented, offering customers a choice of buying or financing the car. One catch: if an owner decides to sell within two years, Lexus keeps first option to buy back the LFA at fair market value, but not for more than the original sticker price. Lexus is also vetting buyers, seeking those who will drive their LFAs as a rolling advertisement rather than stash them away in collections.

The day before my test drive, a handful of LFA prospects had been invited to the track here, including some who needed a test drive before answering the $375,000 question. Mr. Rohovsky said that at each of four such events held around the country, at least one prospect stepped from the car and said, “Where do I sign? I’m ready to go.”

So far American buyers are exclusively men, and on average are in their mid-50s. Many have owned a Lexus, and they tend to be entrepreneurial types, along with one sports star whose name Lexus would not divulge.

Nor would Lexus connect me to the Midwest man who, Lexus swears, is leaning toward an LFA painted Passionate Pink, one of 30 available colors. (Mr. Mary Kay, perhaps?)

Mr. Rohovsky did allow that one “fresh green” LFA — a petri-dish shade wild enough for any Lamborghini fan — is headed to — where else? — Miami.

“He told me, ‘I want people to see me coming and going,’” Mr. Rohovsky said.

More than any luxury car maker, Lexus has been stereotyped, sometimes crudely, as the antiperformance brand, the epitome of masterfully built but soporific and soulless cars.
Yet when Lexus does manage to create a car like the IS-F, a wildly fun-to-drive sport sedan, enthusiasts turn the argument around and question why any Lexus buyer would want one.

For those reasons, no matter how loopily unattainable the LFA may be, I’d hate to discourage Lexus from the sort of moon shot that the LFA represents. Getting out of the driver’s seat, I realized that I may never drive this rare supercar again. But that’s all right.

The LFA — like the Dodge Viper — is the kind of machine that might inspire Lexus or Toyota to inject some spirit into their lineups, or to create sports cars that real people can afford. If that happens, I’ll gladly volunteer to polish Lexus’s halo.
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