2012 Lexus LFA
2012 Lexus LFA Performance
This performance review was written when the 2012 Lexus LFA was new.
Nimble handling, strong brakes and a powerful, Formula 1-derived engine are high points for the 2012 Lexus LFA, although reviewers think there are a number of exotic sports cars that match the LFA’s performance at a significantly lower price. They also dislike the LFA’s single-clutch automated manual transmission, noting that it’s less refined than the double-clutch transmission found in rivals like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
- "Lexus tuned the LFA at Germany's famed Nurburgring Nordschleife, and the result is a car that changes direction more quickly and with more poise than all but a scant few." -- Edmunds
- "The high-revving engine makes the whole car frenetic and buzzy. You have to anticipate shifts as the fake needle swings around the computer monitor behind the steering wheel. Grab the paddle fast and the car snatches the next gear. The real joy comes from feeding in power just after the apex." -- Motor Trend
- "Though my experience with the Lexus was brief, its transmission doesn't seem as refined as Lamborghini's latest, which remains a single-clutch." -- Cars.com
- "The LFA's weak link is its electro-hydraulic 6-speed sequential automated transmission, same as the Audi R8. It's not as fast, smooth or technically sophisticated as the 7-speed twin-clutch gearboxes in the Mercedes SLS AMG, Ferrari 458, or Porsche 911. The shifts are slow and harsh, compared to a twin-clutch." -- New Car Test Drive
Acceleration and Power
The Lexus LFA features a 4.8-liter V10 that’s derived from a race engine used in Formula 1 cars. The track-bred motor generates 552 horsepower at 8,700 rpm and 354 pound-feet of torque at 6,800 rpm. The LFA routes power to the rear wheels through a six-speed single-clutch automated-manual transmission.
Reviewers are floored by the prodigious amount of power on tap, but say that the LFA falls short with a transmission that’s not as refined as the dual-clutch gearboxes found on many rivals. And while the LFA isn’t slow, test drivers don’t consider it particularly quick for its $375,000 price tag. Lexus reports that the LFA has a top speed of 202 mph and that it will sprint from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. The Lamborghini Aventador is roughly the same price, but 0.7 seconds quicker from zero to 60 mph, while the Porsche 911 Turbo offers comparable performance for less than half the price.
The EPA reports that the Lexus LFA gets 11 mpg in the city and 16 mpg on the highway. That’s worse than rivals such as the Mercedes SLS AMG and V10-powered Audi R8, which offer similar performance and get 14/20 and 13/19 mpg city/highway, respectively.
- "Certainly among the quickest and fastest cars available today. Lexus quotes a 0-60-mph time of 3.6 seconds, which seems plausible based on our test. However, there's not a lot of power available in normal street driving, as torque peaks at 6800 rpm and maximum horsepower is reached at a dizzying 8700 rpm." -- Consumer Guide
- "Derived from Toyota's old Formula One race engine, this 552-horsepower power plant screams to a redline of 9,000 rpm - and we do mean ‘screams.’ Despite this sky-high rev limit, though, the LFA's 354 pound-feet of torque is available relatively early, avoiding the sort of (somewhat) languid nature indicative of such peaky engines. The result is a car that boasts truly brutal acceleration." -- Edmunds
- "The highlight of pounding around in the LFA is definitely the throttle response. While turbo cars can produce absolutely brutal mid-range torque, they will never match the instantaneous and near-telepathic connection to the right foot you get from a naturally aspirated engine." -- Motor Trend
- "The engine power is prodigious, but it's very Lexus-like - refined and smooth, but punchy enough to zing the car to 60 mph in only 3.7 seconds. Bottom-end torque is adequate - well, more than adequate for the street - but not overwhelming on the track. Top-end power is astonishing - the automated gearbox ticking off paddle-commanded upshifts and downshifts." -- Popular Mechanics
- "It was an effort every time I switched from braking to the go-pedal not to break the tail loose and trigger the stability system. I adapted as much as I could, but the electronic throttle mapping needs to be toned down. It's more sensitive when the car is in Sport mode, but I'd prefer if it stayed the way it is in Normal." -- Cars.com
- "We don't love the electro-hydraulic 6-speed sequential automated manual transmission. It's similar to the Audi R8 sequential transmission, a car that we also tested at Infineon, and we didn't like that one either, at least not when compared to the 7-speed twin-clutch transmission in the Mercedes SLS AMG and Porsche 911 that we've tested, and the Ferrari 458 that we haven't." -- New Car Test Drive
Handling and Braking
Lexus says that the LFA’s track-tuned suspension was developed after extensive testing at the Nurburgring in Germany, and test drivers are generally astounded by the LFA’s handling. Lexus’ supercar also earns high praise for its accurate steering and powerful brakes with good pedal feel.
While the LFA’s attributes as an agile track car earn praise, a handful of reviewers say that its purpose-built suspension means that it’s not as composed over road imperfections, a trait that’s not uncommon among track-tuned exotic sports cars that lack an adaptive suspension system. Consider rivals such as the Audi R8 if you seek thrilling performance as well as a ride that’s comfortable enough for daily use.
- "Hard to tell on the smooth track surface of our test drive, but even small surface irregularities were transmitted into the cabin, which doesn't bode well for the car's reaction to bumps found on a typical urban street." -- Consumer Guide
- "Grip is endless, body control is sublime, roll is nonexistent and the steering is incredibly accurate. Even the traction control will let you have some fun, while still being ready to save your bacon (and your $375,000 Lexus)." -- Edmunds
- "The truly amazing thing about the LFA is the brakes, four giant ceramic composite rotors and six-piston calipers that pull the speed off fast." -- Popular Mechanics
- "The LFA's handling is its best attribute. With a front/rear weight distribution of 48/52, it feels reasonably balanced and manageable. The steering precision and feedback are excellent, and that's not exactly a Lexus hallmark. Lexus representatives warned about abrupt inputs, but the steering always brought me smoothly where I wanted to go." -- Cars.com
- "We liked the way the brake pedal felt on the track, not hyper-sensitive. It was easy to use the brakes hard. We could have run far deeper into the two turns that the LFA reaches at well over 100 mph, but we just didn't need to." -- New Car Test Drive