Sunday, April 3, 2011
Paris choice is good!
So, Toyota has finally made a new Supra, a car to take the Nissan GT-R down a peg or two?
Supra? This is the new Lexus LFA supercar, although I see what you mean. And don’t mention that impossibly quick, incredibly good value, front-engined Japanese supercar, the GT-R. Lexus claims that the new LFA is a proper supercar, a machine to be compared with the greatest Ferraris and Lamborghinis. It certainly is comparable on price: you’ll need £325,000 to buy one.
Three hundred and twenty-five grand! Has Japan suffered some kind of Zimbabwean hyperinflation and bread is now £40k a loaf?
No, but Lexus did get a bit carried away with the carbonfibre, developing its own type of composite for the chassis tub and building a brand new V10 engine. The project’s been so long in gestation that when Lexus started, they decided to use a V10 to stress the link to F1 – which switched over to V8s in 2006. The 4.8-litre dry-sumped unit puts out 552bhp at 8700rpm, 354lb ft at 6800rpm and spins to 9000rpm. Promising.
For that price, the Lexus LFA supercar ought to be ballistically quick...
It’s certainly rapid, though probably not as rapid as you’d hope. Sixty-two rocks up in 3.7sec (helped by its four-wheel drive system, the Nissan GT-R needs just 3.5sec) and the top speed is 202mph. But the Lexus V10 spins to that 9000rpm redline in one linear push and sounds incredible, emitting a hard yowl throughout the entire journey.
And it’s not just quick on the straights. The LFA turns in swiftly and understeers very little thanks to a 48:52 front:rear weight distribution made possible by tucking the engine up close to the front bulkhead and mounting the gearbox over the rear wheels.
Scythe into a corner and you can feel the outside rear tyre loading up, and initially this can make you think the handling a little edgy. But you soon learn to trust the chassis, keep the pressure on and not back off the power. From there you can either keep it neat or ride out an enormous slide, M3-style.
The ultra-precise, two-turns lock-to-lock steering is realistically weighted and race-car accurate, meaning it’s as good for gathering those slides as it is picking a perfect line through a corner. It’s the best fully electric steering system yet, if still lacking the feel of a fully hydraulic steering system.