A look back at how the LFA was made—and a look forward at its impact on future Lexus models
Editor’s Note: All opinions expressed are those of Kevin Watts of The Lexus Enthusiast, a valued independent contributor not employed by Lexus.
06/13/2013—Development of the Lexus LFA started as a challenge, much as with the original LS 400 that launched the Lexus brand. Could Lexus engineers create a legitimate supercar that competes with the world’s best?
Chief engineer Haruhiko Tanahashi and a group of passionate engineers spent more than a decade working on the answer to this very question. Through numerous shifts in direction, including an unprecedented switch from aluminum to a full carbon fiber chassis midway through development, the team persevered.
When the final production model debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009, the entire automotive industry was put on notice: with its unique materials and F1-inspired V10 engine kicking out 552 horsepower, Lexus was out to prove its commitment to performance.
Limited to just 500 units, the LFA took the famous Lexus attention to detail into a new stratosphere. Each hand-built car was individually customized by its owner, from 28 exterior color choices right down to the interior materials and stitching.
By the time production ended in December 2012, the LFA’s legacy was firmly established: the supercar had brought about a seismic shift within the Lexus brand, and its influence can be seen throughout the Lexus lineup.
From the LS to the RX, every F SPORT model now reflects the performance standards set by the LFA. The new third-generation 2014 IS F SPORT has taken things further by utilizing many of the same processes and racetracks used in the LFA’s development, even adopting design cues like the supercar’s digitized instrument panel.
So even though the LFA’s production is wrapped up, its next phase is here: the vehicle’s influence on current production models. Even concept cars like the LF-CC and LF-LC embody the supercar’s spirit. The LF-LC in particular appears to be a direct descendant, and could hint at the next generation of Lexus high-performance vehicles.
In short, for Lexus and Lexus owners, the long-term impact of this vehicle is just the beginning.
—WORDS BY KEVIN WATTS, THE LEXUS ENTHUSIAST (BOTTOM PHOTOS BY KEVIN WATTS; PHOTOS IN TOP VIDEO BY CHAD HOLDER)
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