To the lucky few individuals that can cough up $400,000 for a sports car, the new 2012 Lexus LFA ranks near the top of the food chain. First things first: This car is not owned by me or Forged Performance; rather it’s owned by a good friend and client, Roy. He took delivery of the first retail LFA back in February and although I’ve driven the car on public roads, I’ve been itching for the opportunity to drive the LFA on track.
The Lexus LFA is a culmination of 10 years of engineering and development time, dating back to Feb of 2000. Lexus intended the LFA to be a showcase of all of Toyota’s technical innovation. Great thought went into the development of the LFA. The main chassis is composed entirely of carbon reinforced polyers that keep weigh down a minimum while resulting in unparalleled chassis rigidity and strength. The 4.8L V10 produces 552hp and 352lb/ft trq and revs relentlessly to it’s 9000rpm redline.
Last weekend, Forged Performance attended the Chin Motorsports track day at Road Atlanta and I had planned on doing some private coaching with Roy in the GT-R. To our surprise, Roy arrived at the track bright and early Saturday morning with his beautiful Silver LFA. Of course, I figured it would be unlikely that Roy would allow his mint condition, never-seen rain-or-dirt LFA to be subjected to the hazards of track use but that didn’t stop me from trying! Surprisingly, Roy was all for it, and insisted I take the car out on track for some demonstration laps with Mark Hicks, the General Manager of Chin Motorsports. After watching from the paddock, I scooped up Roy and we did a few more laps together.
But despite all the engineering and technical innovations, how did it perform on track? One word: Magnificent. Throughout my career, I’ve driven nearly every high performance sport car on various road course throughout the country. Without a doubt in my mind, the Lexus LFA is the best handling bone stock OEM car I’ve ever driven. From the moment I planted my right foot to the floor and cycled the padles the car felt like a true purpose built sports car. It only took one or two corners to realize that decisions made in the production of the LFA were clearly made by engineers and Toyota’s best race car drivers; no bean counters or lawyers were involved. The typical softness and understeer you find in nearly every current OEM “supercar” is nowhere to be found. In contrast, the LFA is a nimble, lightweight, and borderline twitchy car on track with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, all while running a modest run flat street tire. The throttle is insanely responsive at it first it was startling. For a 3200lb car, it’s clear the suspension is sprung very stiffly, with virtually no body roll resulting in steering response that was exceptionally precise and telepathic. The faster I went, the better the car felt with mid corner stability that was intoxicating and confidence inspiring. Even with a light drizzle during my laps, the LFA handled like a dream with just a little bit of corner exit oversteer on the slowest (and wettest) sections of the track, namely T7 and T10A-B. And of course, nothing builds confidence on a road course, better than a powerful and reliable set of stoppers. The full carbon ceramic brakes on the LFA offer limitless amounts of braking force and never complained, all while requiring no warm up to speak of. The brake pedal had a very progressive and natural feel to it, rather than the wooden feel I’ve experienced on many other sports cars.
As I accelerated out of Turn 7, the long back straight at Road Atlanta provided for an opportunity to cycle through most of the gears, and although the LFA doesn’t pin you to the seat like many turbo-charged cars will, I still managed a respectable 147mph GPS (155mph indicated) by the breaking zone of T10 which resulted in a 1:37 to 1:38 lap-time. To put this into perspective, a bone stone OEM GT-R would achieve a similar laptime but in the dry and while complaining all the way around the track. There is definitely more in the car, but that was about as fast as I wanted to push a $400K car that that wasn’t mine…on a damp track.
So sit back and enjoy the video. I apologize in advance for the audio but with no setup time we grabbed whatever cameras we could find and made our way onto the track. Hopefully in the future, we’ll have another test of the LFA in the dry and we’ll be better prepared!
Last but not least, I wanted to thank Chin Motorsports for their hospitality, and of course Roy, for giving me the once in a lifetime opportunity to drive one of the rarest and most technically advanced sports on one of America’s finest road racing circuits: Road Atlanta.
To download desktop wallpapers of the #3 LFA on track please click the following links: