Company CEOs usually have a kind of competitive understanding of each other. There’s nothing personal about; it’s just the way business works.
In the case of Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and his Aston Martin counterpart Ulrich Bez, the truth couldn’t be any further from the truth. After already establishing a mutual working relationship between the two companies - the most recent of which was sharing the Toyota iQ platform with the Aston Martin Cygnet - Toyoda and Bez have become closer to each other than most CEOs that consider themselves competitors, albeit in a slightly stretched manner.
The latest collaboration between the two doesn’t involve a new auto partnership but instead, swapping race cars during the VLN auto series with Toyoda driving the Aston Martin V12 Vantage ’Zig’ and Bez manning the wheels of a Lexus LF-A Gazoo Racing.
Whether this video is merely a publicity stunt or it’s really a genuine show of competitiveness between the two is unknown, but the fact that you have the CEOs of two of the most accomplished auto brands in the country speaks to the ever-growing relationship between Aston Martin and Toyota.
Check out the video to see how the two CEOs fared in riding the race cars of their contemporary.
One of the things automakers seek when they build a supercar is to see that car become a conversation piece everywhere it goes. In the case of the Lexus LF-A, the road towards becoming one of the world’s most talked about supercars began in the mind of Haruhiro Tanahashi, the man that became car’s official program head, and ended becoming one of the most important projects Lexus has done in its history.
In the years of development of the LF-A, one that took the better part of ten years to build, the project has undergone so many twists and turns it could have easily been a different supercar from what Lexus unveiled a few years ago.
For one, the LF-A was first designed with an all-aluminum chassis in mind but was later changed to carry 65 percent carbon fiber and 35 percent aluminum. The final version of the LF-A also comes with a central cockpit that’s made out of the former while the latter is likewise represented by front and rear subframes made out of aluminum.
In the end, the final version of the Lexus LF-A speaks for itself. For a car that took a long time to develop, it ended up becoming the kind of supercar Lexus always wanted it to be.
When Lexus unveiled the LF-A Roadster concept at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, everyone was hoping that the drop top version of the LF-A wouldn’t end there. Now, three years after the highlighted debut, the roadster model has finally been confirmed for production. Expect the Lexus LF-A Roadster to make its appearance in late 2014, only after all of the 500 coupes have been produced.
The design of the future drop top should remain parallel to that of the coupe with possible tweaking in the headlamps and a few other minor tricks. The biggest change will be the fabric soft top, waiting and willing to deliver a wind-in-your-hair experience. Under the hood, expect the same 4.8 liter V10 engine as found in the coupe version. This engine delivers a maximum output of 560 HP at 9,000 RPM and a peak torque of 354 lb-ft at 6,800 RPM. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph will still be made in under 4 seconds, while top speed will be kept in the 200 mph area. The only question remaining is if Lexus will also offer a Nurburgring package for the Roadster model.
UPDATE 09/21/2011: Despite the fact that everyone was waiting to see a roadster version of the LF-A supercar fairly soon, in a recent interview with British magazine, CAR, Lexus sources have confirmed that plans for a roadster model have been axed due to the economic uncertainty in markets around the world. Ouch!(CAR)
UPDATE 01/16/2012: We all know that Lexus axed the LF-A Roadster due to economic uncertainty in some markets, but then a Lexus LF-A Roadster made a surprise appearance at the D1GP Kick Off Drift event that took place just outside the 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon.
This LF-A Roadster could just be a one-off custom job from one of its owners. But seeing what a drop-top version of the Lexus supercar could look like has us pining to see the roadster program get kick-started again.
Check out the video after the jump to see the LF-A Roadster burn some rubber on a drift track at the 2012 TAS.You can get to the tire thrashing at the 48-second mark. Full story
Ever since it was revealed a few years ago, the Lexus LF-A has failed to gain the traction similar to some of its European contemporaries. Lexus looks to be aware of that conundrum and is set to do something about it with the upcoming release of a second special edition model of the Japanese supercar.
Following in the trail set by the LF-A Nurburgring Edition, Lexus may soon give birth to another special edition LF-A called the ’Tokyo Edition’. According to CAR Magazine, this particular LF-A will carry some unique features, including an unpainted carbon roof and a specially designed rear spoiler, among other things.
Everything will more than likely stay the same in terms of power, so expect the 4.8 liter V10 to deliver 560 HP at 9,000 RPM and 354 lb-ft of torque at 6,800 RPM. This would mean a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph.
The Lexus LF-A Tokyo Edition is being prepared to make its official debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in the latter part of the year. Once it hits the market, word has it that it will carry a price tag of about $430,000, over $50,000 more than the standard LF-A.
Further details are expected to be revealed leading up to the Tokyo Motor Show, which is scheduled to take place in December 2011.
Note: Photo is of the 2012 Lexus LF-A Nurburgring Package
It was only four days ago that we caught wind of a new record set by the Lexus LFA Nürburgring-Edition and now we have confirmation of the wondrous feat. The LFA Nurburgring has lapped the famous Nurburgring in only 7 minutes and 14 seconds, just one year after Lexus’ longtime Chief Test Driver, Hiromu Naruse, died while test driving this very same car a short distance from the Nurburgring.
This new record was achieved at the hands of Akira Iida using the Bridgestone Potenza RE070 tires that come standard with the LFA Nurburgring Edition. The 7:14 time beats out the competition provided by the Porsche 911 GT2 RS (7:18), the Corvette ZR1 (7:19.63), and the Dodge Viper ACR (7:22.1).
Mr. Dr. Schmidt , the COO of the Nürburgring Automotive GmbH stated "‘For us, it is always very special when a car is developed to meet the needs of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. It shows us that the Nordschleife still is of particular importance for the automotive industry and that it still radiates a tremendous fascination. Lexus met the challenge Nordschleife by developing the Lexus LFA Nurburgring package."
"The lap time driven demonstrates impressively that Lexus have done an excellent job in matching the challenges of the track with the needs of an exclusive sports car. This is an outstanding result for Lexus and a reassurance of the excellent work done. We are very delighted by this."
James May was right. Far too many automakers are using the Nurburgring lap time as a barometer on how they can gauge their vehicle’s performance against its competitors. Some people, May included, don’t get the whole point of spending massive amounts of research and development to try to shave a few seconds off their lap times.
But on the flip side, other people put a premium on the lap time and if you’re to look at the 7 minutes and 38 seconds lap time of the Lexus LF-A’s around the ’Ring, it pales in comparison to what the LF-A Nurburgring Package supposedly achieved in its run around the race track.
Nothing has been confirmed, but there have been tweets going around that the LF-A Nurbugring Package pulled a rabbit out of a hat by blitzing the ’Ring in just 7 minutes and 14 seconds. The first tweet came from no less than EVO journalist, Chris Harris, who posted an entry that read: "Akira Iida was the man who did the LFA’s 7.14. Great time."
This was then followed by a reply from Lexus Europe, which ’confirmed’ the LF-A’s time around the Ring, saying "7:14 around where? If it’s the ’Ring, it’s astonishing.< yes Nurburgring."
We’re still waiting for a more formal confirmation, or better yet, video evidence from Lexus that this indeed happened. If it did, then we’re looking at a mind-blowing lap time for the souped-up LF-A.
This year has been a little lackluster for Lexus in terms of beating our their competition, but the luxury end of Toyota is getting back on track for what it says will be a couple of exciting years. With all its latest innovations, Lexus is planning a few big things to battle it out against the likes of BMW and Mercedes. This includes a full refresh of its luxury sedans, as well as a kick-the-competition-in-the-ass LF-A Roadster.
The passenger-car lineup will be made over by the spring of 2013, as the GS, ES, IS, and LS sedans will all be either redesigned or re-engineered. However, the biggest gun in the arsenal will be the LF-A supercar. The 500 units for the current LF-A coupe will be finished by 2013, then a roadster version will be unveiled in 2014. This model was actually previewed by the LF-A Roadster concept unveiled in 2008, but the production version will feature the company’s latest design language. Lexus hasn’t said anything about the more powerful version of their LF-A supercar rumored a while ago, but we hope that will be their secret weapon somewhere down the line.
In addition to the sedan redo and the drop top LF-A, Lexus also has plans for the future GS-F performance edition and the LS. The company has said that the high-performance version will not feature a conventional V8 engine, but a hybrid drivetrain. The LS will also be redesigned in 2013 - it will get weight-saving technology using premium materials and a new, more economical engine.
The Lexus LFA Nurburgring Package just proved it is worthy of its name. During this past weekend’s ADAC 24 hour race at Nurburgring with Gazoo Racing’s Akira Iida behind the wheel, the car lapped the Nurburgring race track in 7:22.85 purely for exhibition purposes.
Lexus stated that this wasn’t an "official" lap time, but just a warm up to a possible official attempt later this year. However, despite that fact, this lap time places the LFA Nurburgring Package in 10th place for the fastest production vehicle on the Nurburgring track, and it did it with minimal effort. We can’t wait to see what it can do when it goes balls to the wall!
Short reminder: The Lexus LF-A is powered by a 4.8 liter V10 that delivers a maximum output of 560 HP, but for the LF-A Nurburgring Track Edition the output will be raised to 570 HP. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph will be made in 3.7 seconds, and top speed will go up to 210 mph.
A few days ago, some rumors about a second generation Lexus LF-A started to circulate on the internet. It could have been a passing whisper and it would have been all we needed to start dreaming about what this mode would look like. The rendering above is what we came up with.
Let’s face facts, the Lexus LF-A doesn’t exactly need any major changes, so it will pick up where the Lexus LF-A Nurburgring Package left off in terms of style and sport. Lexus will not be making any significant changes to the LFA, but we may see a new headlamps design, larger air intakes, a more discrete rear spoiler, and a slimmer profile.
In terms of power, the current V10 engine will be tricked to deliver more than 562 HP in order to significantly improve the car’s performance. This will mean that it could complete the 0-60 mph sprint in less than 3.7 seconds. Top speed should also exceed the Nurburgring model’s 210 mph.
If the Lexus LFA II makes it to production, it will probably come out sometime in 2013 and will be offered as an expensive, limited edition.
Aston Martin and their V12 Zagato Racer better be on top of their game when it comes to this year’s 24-hours of Nürburgring. Lexus, in cooperation with Gazoo Racing, will be entering the race with a pretty impressive LF-A supercar that should give fellow racers a run for their money.
During its latest testing, the Lexus LFA by Gazoo started off from position 12 and finished the race in fifth place with an average speed of 161.139 km/h. Its fastest lap was completed with an average speed of 170.540 km/h, corresponding to a lap time of 8:34.416 for the combination of the shortened GP-track and the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. This is an impressive result considering that, at a previous test session, the car suffered a stroke of bad luck another car crashed into it when the LFA driver, Ishiura, was entering Turn 1. This resulted in a severely damaged rear righthand section, retiring the vehicle from the race.
Gazoo Racing has been working with the Lexus LFA for the past three years, even before the street version of the vehicle went on sale in 2010. During that time, Gazoo has been revising the vehicle to obtain maximum results on the track. These revisions include tuning the vehicle’s underbody with carbon fiber reinforced plastic, as well as switching out its tires for Bridgestone racing tires, size 330/40R18. Gazoo also took the liberty of adding a few aerodynamic parts to complete the look and feel of the racer. Under the hood, we’ll find the same 4805 cc V10 engine with over 560 HP coursing through its automotive veins.
Make sure you check out the Lexus LFA at the ADAC 24 hour race on June 25, 2011, but for now, hit the jump to see a video of Hiroaki Ishiura, one of three professional drivers who will be piloting the LFA on the day of the race, as he gets through some of the vehicle’s testing.
Video after the jump. Full story