Even in this industry, there are those most cherished of cars. Among them, unquestionably, is the ultra-exclusive Lexus LFA Supercar, which only a handful of journalists have ever driven.
So, when the opportunity came around for Alborz to push a Lexus LFA around a private test facility for the very first time, his schedule miraculously freed up and he was on a plane bound for Sydney.
When the LFA was released in 2010, it was priced from $700,000. These days, barely-used examples can fetch as much as $1.3 million, which is why Lexus Australia chose the risk-free option of trucking the car to us.
Seven years on and it’s still a fabulous looking machine, unlike any other of its day, while exclusivity was guaranteed by virtue of the fact only 500 were ever built.
Here was a car unlike anything Lexus had ever built. It was 10 years in the making, and really spawned what became the company mantra, ‘In pursuit of perfection’.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Five years in, and a commitment to using aluminium as the principal construction material, Lexus then realised it would be too heavy and not stiff enough to meet the car’s performance benchmarks. So, it switched to carbon-fibre.
But in order to meet the demands and the quantity required to complete 500 of them, Lexus even built a giant loom in-house to make the stuff. That’s next-level passion and commitment for you.
The engine is a technological masterpiece, even by today’s standards. Mounted up front is a bespoke 4.8-litre V10 making 412kW and 480Nm of torque. it will rev to a mind-blowing 9000rpm and beyond, and go from standstill to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds (quick for 2010).
It spins so fast that engineers had to abandon the traditional analogue tachometer in favour of a fully digital version – as the only way the needle could keep with the engine revs.
At full tilt, it sounds like Formula One cars used to sound. Even today, the exhaust note, heard from outside, is unmatched by a production series car for sheer scream value.
But, the LFA was also supposed to kick off a whole series of Japanese supercars for the 21st century, as well as Lexus vehicles of the future – at least, that’s what the company’s bosses promised.
Seven years on, and Lexus has finally produced another proper high-performance car – though, this time, it’s a GT, and it’s called the LC500 – the new Lexus flagship. It’s even built in the same factory as the LFA, with some of the same people on the team.
It looks special, too, much like the LF-LC show car of 2012. In fact, there’s barely any difference – it still looks like a concept car. Something that required similar levels of commitment as its supercar sibling.
Take the steering wheel, which is hand-stitched using three types of leather for that perfect form and feel. The size and angle of the rim was painstakingly designed with a change in the cross-sectional shape of the rim circumference – and for what it’s worth, it does feel perfect.
Even the gear selector has had the Takumi (master craftsman) touch, again, fashioned with three separate pieces of the softest leather, but the stitching has been concealed for a more luxurious feel.
It uses the special ‘GA-L’ version of the Toyota New Global Architecture platform and becomes the most torsionally rigid car the marque has ever built – that includes the LFA, folks.
Under the bonnet is a front mid-mounted 5.0-litre V8 borrowed from both the GS F and RC F performance models. And while it doesn’t sound like an F1 car, it is naturally aspirated, so it does sound brilliant – inside or out.
It’s no slouch, either, needing just 4.5 seconds to scoot from 0-100km/h, thanks to 351kW and 540Nm of torque on tap. And, it likes to rev – all the way to 7100rpm
It’s heavier than a GS F, which is odd given the various weight saving measures employed in this car, like the optional carbon-fibre roof and aluminium door skins mounted to the carbon-fibre door inner structures, as well as a composite floor.
The steering is pin-point accurate, and the chassis feels beautifully balanced. No question, this is a car that can be enjoyed by enthusiast drivers, who also appreciate impeccable build quality and comfort.
That said, it’s no LFA – that’s coming, we hope.