Several years ago, if someone asked an enthusiast about a well-known Japanese company they probably would have said that its cars were "Reliable and comfortable but an utter bore to drive."

And, they were right. The cars delivered on the one front but did not stir any emotion. The infamous "Soul" that auto journalists write about just was not there. Until one letter turned the company's track record upside down.


2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

Said to stand for the Fuji Speedway, you knew that Lexus meant business. After all, this was not a company known for botching a job.

Then, after spending nearly 10 years in rigorous development and numerous rumors about the program being on/off again, the "L" brand finally presented us with its pièce de résistance; the LFA.

It is not very often that a company goes out on a limb to build a car that is the total opposite of the brand's objective. Bugatti's Veyron is not extraordinary when compared to the EB110. Ferrari's Enzo could have been called predictable when you see its older siblings, the F50 and F40.

It is when a company like Porsche builds a sport-utility vehicle or when Lexus starts building an outrageous supercar that you must turn your head and say "Eh?"

2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

No need to worry though because Lexus seems to follow the "Go big or go home" philosophy. Every aspect of this vehicle has been thought out. From the several different types of carbon fiber to the positioning of the driver so the vehicle maintains ideal weight distribution, everything was over engineered from the get-go.

Probably the most cited example is the LFA initial build, which was aluminum, was scraped and changed to carbon fiber because it was deemed too heavy.

My personal favorite is the one where Lexus decided that wherever it could, it would install any component in between the wheels and as low as physically possible. That is why the fuel tank straddles the central tunnel and has a neighbor that must be lost; the windscreen washer tank.

2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

When you hear about an obsession this compulsive you know that the product question is going to be an engineering marvel.

And it has to earn the respect of any auto buff who appreciates engineering. A perfect example comes from an employee at a rival firm who said it best "you can tell it's [the LFA] someone's baby."

I could not say it better myself.

Toyota specifically built this loom in order to produce JUST the LFA's A-pillar out of carbon fiber

Many will say that you can get a Nissan GT-R for a much cheaper price and obtain similar performance, which is true. But when you drive the LFA, that argument becomes extinguished quickly. While the GT-R is a monumental performer, the LFA makes it feel like a highly modified 370Z that is lacking table manners.

Many will also say that for about half the price you can get a well optioned Audi R8 5.2 V10, which is also true. But after spending a day with the LFA at the track, I came across a white R8 V10 with the carbon fiber options -- my favorite color for the big-daddy Audi.

My reaction?


2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

If the R8 came from Mars, the LFA came from another universe. While comparing these two may seem like judging a beauty contest between Marissa Miller and Bar Refaeli, at the end of the day one is ultimately better. And, you have to see an LFA in the flesh to appreciate all of its scoops and unique attributes, because no camera can capture what this car's vibe is all about.

Then there is the sheer exclusivity. While seeing an R8 is not too uncommon if you live in SoCal and New York, try finding one of the 171 LFAs that will make themselves home on U.S. shores. Anyway you slice it there will only be 500 units built, globally.

Imagine the LFA as a modern-day Toyota 2000GT, except it is a helluva lot more innovative. It will be sought after for years to come.

Most likely you will not be able to grasp this because at a price this high -- nearly $400,000 big ones -- it is something you have to drive and feel to ultimately appreciate.

It is only when you turn the key and it comes to life that you truly understand how remarkable the LFA is.

2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

This seatbelt is cushioned for a reason. An airbag is inside of it.

The high-pitched 4.8 liter V10 produces a naturally aspirated 552-horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Yet again its facts continue to prove that it is an engineering marvel: it is smaller than a V8 and is lighter than a V6.

One would think that with only a pinch over 350 lb-ft of torque that the Lexus would not be the kind of car that jams your head into the seat. And, I am pretty it isn't the torque that has you reaching for the door grabs so much as its unbelievably lively motor.

So jumpy, in fact, Lexus fitted a digital tachometer; an analog tach simply cannot keep up.

Have you EVER seen a motor's tachometer actually shake upon acceleration? I haven't.

Between this and the harmonies coming from the motor and exhaust, you cannot top the LFA. No car sounds this good, nothing sounds close except an F1 car. This car is worth a quarter of its price just due to sound.

Once again Lexus over engineered the car from a sound perspective; there are three sound channels piping notes for the driver's listening pleasure. If the LFA has a sound system, I am sure it sounds great but I would not know considering I did not turn it on, nor did I want to.

Mated to this motor is a six-speed automated sequential gearbox that features seven different stages. It can shift as quick as lightning in .2 seconds or if you want to smooth things out a bit, you can set the tranny to shift in a full second.

2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

If that is not enough there are also four driving modes: Auto, Sport, Normal and Wet. Going from Auto to Sport is a profound difference. The LFA gets livelier feels as though you have just started to speak its language.

Being that the LFA weighs a hair under 3,300 pounds -- this is over 200 less than the original aluminum build, Lexus proudly boasts -- and with the LFA's capable powerplant it gets up to 60 in 3.6 seconds. If you can find a straight long enough, 202 MPH is possible. Not that I was able to find out.

Then there are the two-piece carbon ceramic brakes, which have 15.4 inch rotors up front and 14.2 inch rotors in back. Clamping these rotors are six-piston calipers in front and four-pot calipers in the rear. That is some serious hardware and when you are coming into the first turn off the straight at New Jersey Motorsports Park, it sure as hell feels like it.

Probably the best aspect of the car is how it corners. I have never been in another vehicle that corners so flat at such high velocity. Sure a GT-R can nearly match the LFA's zero to 60 sprint but it cannot hold a candle against the Lexus when it comes to the center of gravity, which ups one's confidence going into turns.

This is the EXACT car I drove. Watch the video to get an idea how it looks in NORMAL settings. **NOTE: Yeah, I know it's matte black, Lexus repainted the vehicle white for marketing purposes

Which brings up another thing. Sure the car has a fantastic amount of grip but it is not all boring and predictable. Baby can hang its tail-end out if you so desire. Even when in full control you can feel the car tugging at your coattails begging for just a bit more juice so she can show the crowd her backside.

After having my go around the track in the most insane Lexus ever built, Scott Pruett gave me the ride of a lifetime. Essentially, this consisted of me getting pinned to the seat, being tossed around like a ragdoll and doing my best to keep my eyes open.

2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

It is really weird to feel limited body roll but encounter g-forces that make you feel as though you are in a jet fighter. After the hot laps I made note that my legs had been beaten up a little bit although I had done my best to brace myself around the track.

This is the kind of driving that makes you feel as though you're in pre-school and he has a master's degree in kicking your ass.

The End Result?

For the LFA you have to take a step back and evaluate the situation. This is a car that EVERYONE has taken a sip of haterade on. This makes me love this car EVEN more! Most say it costs too much or that its performance is not all that mindblowing.

Realistically speaking, I am willing to wager that 1 out of 100,000 of these haters will ever see an LFA. Probably 1 out of 10 million of these people will sit in one. If they're lucky as I have been, maybe -- and it is a BIG maybe -- 1 out of 100 million of these people will drive one.

And, I am being generous with these random figures.

Once you drive the car, all of the speculation and nonsense is completely sucked out of you. This is because the LFA speaks to an enthusiast's emotions and it is very rare that an auto manufacturer can achieve this.

After having a month to reflect on this unique experience, I have to question which is sadder: the fact I will likely never pilot another LFA or that so many people will NOT have the chance to do so.

Oh yeah, it is worth the $400,000.

**NOTE: Check out the 2011 Lexus LFA photo gallery that has over 250 images of this eye-popping performance machine

2011 Lexus LFA Photo Gallery

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Photo Gallery

2011 Frozen Gray BMW M3 Photo Gallery

2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder Photo Gallery

Bimmerfest 2010 Photo Gallery Photo Galleries

If you want to see your photos running on our homepage photo ticker, be sure to upload your photos on the go by sending them to

Share on Facebook

REVIEW: Is Lexus' LFA Worth Its $400K Price Of Admission? 00R Finds Out...

About the Author