Featured | Lexus LFA

If you had to write an on-the-spot list of supercars, odds are you would forget to add the Lexus LFA.

Apr 7, 2021

As the alpha of the car world, supercars are unashamedly brash and self-assertive.

At its core, the Lexus isn’t. Despite brimming with technical brilliance, bespoke innovations, and outstanding performance characteristics, the LFA is more subtle than the shouty Europeans.

Production was brief – just two years. For the then-largest carmaker on earth, the LFA was an extremely exclusive project, with just 500 units build between 2010 and 2012. While they very easily could have, Toyota didn’t wish to flex production muscle and make the LFA a segment sales leader. Instead, Akio Toyoda, CEO of parent company Toyota Motor Corporation, wanted a hero car for the Lexus brand that connected with the owner more than any Lexus had before.

Even to look at, the LFA is refined and sophisticated. It is not a jarring affair of angles underneath an impossibly low roof line. Save for some aerodynamic scoops, the exterior isn’t designed in an overt manner. Its more akin to a 2010 interpretation of a Supra than something to tackle Lamborghinis and Ferraris around the Nürburgring. And the LFA has only gotten better with age.

All LFAs were hand assembled and integrated much F1 technology of the era into a unique carbon fibre reinforced polymer chassis, built around a one-off Toyota/Yamaha V10 engine. Despite relatively modest output of 412kW (533hp) when compared with some supercars, many claim the LFA’s exhaust note is one of the best of all time.

While the soundtrack is other-worldly, the chassis is the most remarkable attribute of the LFA. The reinforced polymer was so special, the fibres used to construct it were woven together by one of only two laser-monitored looms on earth that worked with the material. It also utilised carbon ceramic brakes, drive-by-wire braking technology and offered near perfect weight distribution.

It was nimble beyond belief with engine responsiveness and drivability few could come close to. Motoring writer Jeremy Clarkson, to this day, rates the LFA as the best car he has ever driven.

The heavy use of F1 technology, the screaming V10 engine and cutting-edge materials came at a price. In New Zealand, there were only two reasons Lexus decided not to sell the LFA new: servicing requirements were just too specialised (comparable with a Le Mans race car in fact), and this was a $1 million car.

These reasons, as well the Global Financial Crisis which coincided with the LFA’s arrival hampered sales uptake. It took a while for Lexus USA to sell all their stock from 2012 and the distributor still had three LFA in stock as late as 2019, seven years after production finished.

However, history shows that this weird perfect storm of engineering excess, limited production numbers and macro market factors all helped establish the LFA as an iconic car, nonetheless. Like all supercars – perhaps even more so than more commercially successful and readily-identified contenders – the LFA is a distillation of automotive engineering’s zenith at that time.

Its rarity and technical underpinnings have ensured its appeal to any discerning enthusiast fortunate enough to get their hands on one. People who recognise the LFA understand just how revolutionary the car was and is. It’s the supercar to own when you don’t want to shout about owning a supercar.