Why We Don’t Want Another Lexus LFA
Recently, some rumors surfaced the interwebs stating that Lexus is talking about an LFA successor but needs media support to make it happen. “I love it but we need your help. We need strong requests for a new LFA from the media. This can help us proceed” -said Lexus’ vice president, Koji Sato. There are many things I’m not sure about in my life but I know for sure that we don’t want another LFA. Why? Let me explain.
You see, the LFA is not just a random supercar from the Land Of Rising Sun. It’s much more than that. It is the pride of a nation, which has been ridiculed for making soulless cars. It is Toyota’s golden moment in years, standing up, looking down at the established German and flamboyant Italians shouting — There is much more to us than Corollas and geraitric hybrid vehicles. It was a masterpiece, not just Toyota’s but Japan’s. We geeks know that 10 years is plain ridiculous for Toyota to churn out a supercar. But, yeah, it did take them a dreary long 10 years. The LFA was conceived even before the beautiful V10-powered Carrera GT came out and that’s some food for thought right there.
Some say the LFA was Akio Toyoda’s pet project, but it is actually the sweat of a tiny skunkworks team that was formed inside Lexus. The three suspects include Akio Toyoda, chief engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi, and the late test driver Hiromu Naruse. Haruhiko Tanahashi can be referred to as the father of LFA, it was his vision that led to the supercar. Tanahashi was the chassis engineer for Toyota and was behind the dynamics of cars like the JZX90 Mark II and Celica GT-Four. I don’t think I have to say any further about Tanahashi when there are names of care like these in his resume. Haruhiko approached Toyota’s chief test driver, Himoru Naruse and the duo set towards making the then unnamed LFA a reality. Being Toyota, the project was sure to be scrapped as it involved a fair amount (understatement) of moolah. That is where Akio Toyoda comes in; being an enthusiast at heart, Akio vouched for the project and along with Haruhiko and Himoru rooted for the project to be given a green signal. Akio’s main point being the need for a halo car, something which inspires and uplifts the brand’s status and adds some much needed enthusiasm to it.
The LFA was on track with no costs barred utilizing all Toyota had back then. But the biggest turning point in the LFA’s unsung story came later in 2005. Carbon fibre was on the verge of a breakthrough with more supercars using it. It was a newfound enlightenment for supercar manufacturer. And when LFA’s development team came to a deadlock, Akio Toyoda bodly chose to scratch 5 years of development involving an aluminium chassis. Mind you, 2005 was different, carbon fibre was as rare as new BMW cars with appropriate sized grille. Only a handful had the expertise in this light but strong material. Unfortunately Toyota wasn’t one of them. That didn’t stop Akio and his bunch of enthusiasts with the vision of creating a thorough bred drivers car. Toyota’s then defunct Motomachi ( LFA was built in the same facility) was picked to create bespoke carbon fibre parts for the LFA. Don’t forget the financial hurdles Toyota went through by scratching years of progress and going ahead with carbon fibre. The Japanese are a crazy bunch of people, but this was something so bold for one of the biggest carmakers on this planet. So daring that they even went ahead and created a never-seen-before 3D loom for weaving carbon fibre. Toyota, at first didn’t even let anyone photograph it citing various reasons with the main one being competition might nick the technology.
After hideos amounts of green paper, research, testing, sweat and sushi, the LFA was finally taking shape. The supercar debuted at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show but was soon the point of criticism thanks to its high price tag making it three times more dearer than the Nissan GTR, which was also faster than the LFA on paper making things worse. In my opinion, the Lexus LFA came out at the wrong time. The car was destined for the future, it was so ahead of time that it took many years after the production run out for the masses to see the brilliance under the sheen.
The biggest trait of the car is obviously something which I haven’t even scratched yet. I believe we should reserve all the good stuff for the ending — The howling banshee-like 4.8-litre 72-degree bank angle ILR-GUE V10 is and will forever be remembered as one of the best engines ever made. Quite honestly the best sounding production car ever made, the engine, acoustically tuned by Yamaha was nothing short of a musical instrument. One that reminds you of the glorious days of F1, one that makes makes you yearn for unadulterated sounding engines, and the one that you’ll listen to over the years when the electric cars and the unnerving silence takes over. The whole car is a science fest on wheels, and Toyota flexing its muscles, boasting off all the sci-fi bits. The engine, hand built using forged aluminum pistons, forged titanium connecting rods could scream upto 9000rpm. And it could do that within a jaw-dropping 0.6th of a second forcing Lexus to use a digital tachometer as a conventional tachometer looked like a dinosaur here.
Various renowned auto journos who started to experience the car began praising it, praise it in such a way that some of them so much as went ahead and said that it is the best car they have driven. Adding more verve to the whole driving experience was the ultra-sharp handling thanks to its carbon fibre monocoque chassis and Lexus’ chassis tuning gained from its extensive time at the ring. Lexus also made 50 Nurburgring editions of the LFA which was also the fastest production car around the ring. Slowly but surely the LFA is starting to get all the acclaim it was missing in the first place. But that doesn’t mean we want another LFA. Don’t get me wrong here, as much as I would love to see one, in the back of my mind, I know that like Jeremy told “ Even the people who made it (LFA) doesn’t know how to make it anymore”. The LFA name should remain sanct, it shouldn’t have a successor. I am pretty sure that in this day and age where electrics and hybrids are catching up, the next LFA will not have a glorious V10, or even a V8 for that matter. I would rather have no successor to the LFA than a hybrid LFA that sounds like a..yes, vacuum cleaner.
Then there is the enormous amount of research and passion that went into the LFA that makes it that more special. The automotive industry is not the same anymore, cars are not aesthetically pleasing, fake sounds are the new thing, and driving pleasure can’t even be found in the back seat. Nobody is saying Lexus shouldn’t develop another supercar, (and they should actually) but the problem here is that we love the LFA so much. Lexus can have all the media support they want for the LFA successor provided they don’t use those three letters.
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