Driving just two laps around the Fuji Speedway in the Lexus LFA is like leaving a seven-course gourmet meal after nibbling on a starter. But it’s still a moment to be savoured because there’s exclusivity about this supercar that not even a Ferrari can match. It starts with the ludicrous price tag of US$ 375,000 which at todays equally ludicrous exchange rate works out to Rs 2.03 crore. And that’s before paying the 120 percent duty, which will more than double the price when it lands in India. But even if you have the money, you can’t buy one because Lexus won’t sell any of the 500 LFAs produced to customers in India. So what’s the point of this drive then? It is to showcase the technology packed into this car and what Toyota, or more specifically its luxury brand Lexus, is capable of. That was blindingly obvious from the moment I left the pit lane.
With no time to play around with the different driving modes I opted for the most extreme Sport setting and gave myself enough room behind the pace car before letting loose all the 552 horses inside the 4.8-litre V10. This motor feels like a proper race engine. Not only is the performance simply shattering, it flies to its 8700rpm rev limit with no let-up. In fact, this motor gets a second wind after 6000rpm which is accompanied by a superb soundtrack which, though not as shrill as a Ferrari’s, is scintillating enough to keep all your senses on full alert. The brutal shifts of the single-clutch six-speed gearbox intensify the experience and by the time I’m half way around the circuit, I feel I’m ready for Le Mans.
But under all that rawness is an unmistakable layer of smoothness and refinement that you would only expect from a Lexus. The way the LFA responds to driver inputs is so seamless and linear that it makes driving a supremely precise yet easy exercise. In fact, the electrically powered steering is pretty light and calls for gentle inputs rather than a tug of the wheel. The ultra-rigid carbon-fibre tub and sub-1.5-tonne kerb weight also contribute to the LFA’s responsive handling, which is nothing short of flawless.
But for all its perfection, the one thing the LFA lacks is soul. It looks great but
a little too anonymous and doesn’t quite captivate you the way a Ferrari does.
But then this is a Lexus after all, which means perfection takes precedence