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The 2012 Lexus LFA is an anomaly. Born of a program that consumed itself at least once in development, only to rise from its own ashes, the $375,000 supercar sits alone in Lexus' lineup as a halo car without a tie-in to its mainstream cousins.
That's not to say that, in a vacuum, the LFA isn't a brilliant car; it is. Weighing in at just over 3,250 pounds, it's a relative lightweight in the supercar class, and its zingy 9,000-rpm V-10 engine is almost in its own world. Power output, on the other hand, isn't, at just 552 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. That fact puts the LFA's performance on par with cars that cost less than one-third its price tag, running to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and to a top speed of 202 mph.
A single-clutch six-speed sequential gearbox is an archaism in such an otherwise high-tech car, and well behind rivals sporting lightning-quick dual-clutch transmissions. Exotic bits like its 65-percent carbon fiber body, carbon-ceramic brakes and titanium exhaust tubing only serve to point up the pointless preeminence of engineering over any relationship to performance or price.
One thing the LFA does have going for it, however, is exclusivity. Lexus can only build a handful per month under optimal conditions, and conditions have been sub-optimal since the tsunami and earthquake in Japan earlier this year. Demand, however, may not even be up to par with the limited production schedule, but that just serves to make the LFA even rarer. It's hard to imagine the massive price as an investment, or a timeline long enough to allow a real return on investment as a collector's car, but it's a possibility.
Inside, the LFA is an equally odd mixture of spartan elements and extreme high technology. It's comfortable in the way most supercars are, which is to say, if you expect the ride to be firm and the cockpit to be close. The digital tachometer front-and-center in the instrument cluster is perhaps the highlight, chosen because no analog gauges could keep pace with the quick-revving V-10 engine.
There's no denying that the Lexus LFA is Toyota's engineering masterwork, or that it is, in fact, a very, very good car. It's just that it's not as good enough--on paper, or in reality--to justify its stratospheric price.
- Incredibly quick-revving engine
- Dashing, yet subdued styling for a supercar
- Over-the-top engineering
- Extremely high price
- Lackluster performance for the category