Is the mule on the ’Ring a sign of things to come?

Lexus was seen this week testing a modified LFA with the Nurburgring package right at the fabled German circuit, and it got us intrigued. It’s been six years since the last LFA rolled off the production line, so could Lexus prepare for a replacement despite claims they aren’t looking at this possibility?

The original LFA, launched after much lament and almost a whole decade in the works, back in 2010 is a sort of a flawed genius. Originally criticized for its lumpy gearbox and somewhat underpowered V-10 engine, it ultimately grew on and won over some of its most fierce critics due to its special charisma. It was a refined supercar with build quality that rivaled and maybe surpassed that of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and with an engine that sounded as good as any Italian thoroughbred.

Now, six years on, we know from a couple of years ago that the message that was conveyed by the LFA has endured and that Lexus might not be looking at building a replacement for it in the next few years. But what if they are? Yoshihiro Sawa hinted during his visit this year at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed that “a pure F GT car, which could be a hybrid with an electric motor and a strong engine” is on the cards. What if he’s not only referring to an LC F but to something more?

Keep on reading to find out our thoughts on how the LFA’s replacement could be.

Exterior

2022 Lexus LFA Successor Exterior Spyshots
- image 800030

Expect an outside appearance vastly different from what we’re familiar with on the 8-year-old LFA. After all, Lexus has moved on and is now employing a different design language. Generally speaking, the LC500 coupe shares the shape of the LFA slightly turned down a notch, so expect the range-topping LFA replacement to be bigger and bolder in all areas but also lower. It will also most likely retain the same layout of the engine in the front sending power to the back wheels. Although, if performance dictates it, AWD remains very much on the table.

In terms of design, Lexus has been using the ”L-finesse” design language for the better part of a decade-and-a-half but its most distinguishing element, the enormous spindle grille up front only came much later, after the original LFA.

Indeed, the LFA inspired the introduction of the grille with its honeycomb mesh so nobody would bet against it appearing in grand style on a new LFA. Then there are the headlights which should be narrower towards the inside of the vehicle and have a bar of LEDs just below, slightly separated. It’s another design element that started on the original LFA and has now evolved and is on any Lexus model.

The car should feature the same straight-cut, while also elegant, lines to define the body with more intakes than on your average, clean-looking, Lexus. The taillights at the back should still be minimalistic, thin, following the character lines from the side and giving them a new meaning at the back. A continuation of the triangle-shaped exhaust tip would be nice to see.

2022 Lexus LFA Successor Exterior Spyshots
- image 800025

Overall, one shouldn’t look forward to a mid-engined supercar, rather a two-door front-engined low-slung beast. It should have a CFRP monocoque and maybe other exotic materials like kevlar could be used in the construction of the body and other components to keep the weight down, this being a major problem that called for numerous redesigns on the original.

Interior

2018 Lexus LC 500 High Resolution Interior
- image 661494

The interior of the LFA was one of the things that people praised the most due to the way Lexus tastefully combined the best of leathers with metal and carbon fiber inserts. Judging by any Lexus we have on the market today, the manufacturer is still very much prizing the experience that the customers have inside the vehicle so an LFA replacement should be a great place to sit in.

Expect a giant infotainment screen incorporated in the dash as we see on the LC500 and a multi-functional steering wheel. It’s unlikely that Lexus will go for a driver-focused layout inside with the center stack slightly angled towards the person behind the wheel since the passenger is just as important.

In essence, the successor of the LFA will remain a pure two-seater, leaving the 2+2 mantle to the LC500 coupe.

Drivetrain

2022 Lexus LFA Successor Exterior Spyshots
- image 800046

Lexus and Toyota engineers struggled to keep the weight of the LFA down which, in turn, led to major delays in production and a few drastic redesigns. The people behind the scenes will have to be watchful of how the next Lexus supercar tips the scales since it will most likely feature a hybrid drivetrain with electric motors and battery packs. The original didn’t even have a turbocharger. It was a pure naturally-aspirated 4.8-liter V-10 capable of 552-horsepower in normal trim and 562-horsepower with the Nurburgring package.

Now, six years on, these figures must be greatly improved if Lexus wants to have people take them seriously when they refer to their new flagship as a ”supercar”.

Not only that, but the upcoming LC F will pack a big punch so the LFA replacement has to be a cut above.

It’s currently rumored that the LC F will ditch the 5.0-liter V-8 of the LC500 with all of its 467-horsepower and, instead, go for a 4.0-liter unit with the same amount of cylinder but with two turbochargers. The power figure should then be around the 550-horsepower mark although Lexus could push it all the way to 600-horsepower.

2022 Lexus LFA Successor Exterior Spyshots
- image 800026

With Akio Toyoda saying that ”the words ’Lexus’ and ’boring’ never appear in the same sentence again," we can look forward to a +750-horsepower figure for the new supercar. It will definitely have hybrid motors, one on each axle most likely, and this could also mean we’ll see four-wheel steering. A dual-clutch 7-speed or 8-speed gearbox should be mated to that engine which will most definitely not be a V-10.

Intelligent suspension and chassis setup should see the car act brilliantly around a track as long as the weight isn’t overwhelming and it’s balanced right.

After all these years of Nurburgring tests, we expect it not to be an impossible feat to pull by Lexus.

Previous generation Lexus LF-A specifications

Engine 4.8L V10
Horsepower 560 HP @ 8,700 RPM
Torque 354 LB-FT @ 6,800 RPM
Top Speed 202 mph
0 to 60 mph 3.7 seconds
Transmission 6-speed automatic

Pricing

All the way back in 2012, an LFA with the Nurburgring package set you back $475,000. In comparison, a 2018 LC500 with some amenities costs around $100,000. With nothing to suggest that the ”next LFA” will come cheap, you should already start saving if you want one although it’s unclear if and, if yes, when it will come out. As a ballpark estimate, the LC F should be here by 2020.

Competition

Ferrari 812 Superfast

2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast High Resolution Exterior
- image 705802

If Lexus wants to play ball in the supercar park, they have to measure against the best. Currently, the best front-engined supercar is the ludicrously awesome 812 Superfast. Its 6.5-liter V-12 develops 800-horsepower and 530 pound-feet of torque making it the most powerful N/A car of all times. All of that power is sent to the rear through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission made by Getrag. This makes a time of 0-62 mph of just 2.9 seconds possible, according to Ferrari.

With a top speed of 211 mph, the 812 Superfast is one of the fastest front-engined cars in the world and the Flavio Manzoni-led team of designers echoed the insane performance figures in the devilishly aggressive exterior styling. Its hood seems endless, at least when compared with the short rear overhangs. Its elongated headlights and gaping front inlet make it look like a ferocious animal looking for prey. Lexus must step up quite a bit from the original LFA if they don’t want to be that prey.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast

Lamborghini Aventador S

2018 Lamborghini Aventador S
- image 703569

Officially revealed at the 2017 Geneva Auto Show, the S version of the already venerable Aventador is still a sight to behold. In classic Lamborghini fashion, the flagship mid-engined supercar was conceived to be as dramatic as possible. From the visible V-12 in the middle to the scissor doors and razor edge headlights, it’s all there to signal that this is a proper Lambo.

The power on the Aventador S was spiked up to 740-horsepower, and the 6.5-liter V-12 puts down 509 pound-feet of torque. The S also has four-wheel steering, AWD and stiffer suspension. Top speed is over 225 mph. Also, Lamborghini, just like Lexus, worked tirelessly on the Nordschleife to improve the Aventador. As such, the SV version achieved a time of 6:59.73 on the green hell while the ultra-limited SVJ went into the stratosphere with a 6:44.97 which is as fast as a production car has gone around the Nordschleife. That’s half a minute faster than what the LFA with the Nurburgring package could muster back in 2012. Yes, the S isn’t nearly as fast as the SV or SVJ, but the new Lexus supercar still has plenty of ground to make up.

Read our full review on the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S

Conclusion

2022 Lexus LFA Successor Exterior Spyshots
- image 800026

In the ever-changing landscape of the fast and awesome supercars, Lexus has to set the bar very high to excite even those that were displeased with the performance of the original. Build quality is a given as is a hybrid powertrain so the big question is how will the manufacturer keep the car’s weight down. If it will, thanks to all of its expertise on the Nurburgring and elsewhere, the end result should be a really quick car with some unique styling.

But we don’t know if it will happen.

Back in 2016, Lexus Europe boss, Alain Uyttenhoven, said that the company isn’t looking at building a new supercar

. ”The LFA is an icon now and possibly always will be - we don’t need to replace it to keep that status. It is a car we can reference for another 25 years if we choose. Its status is assured." He went on to add that "it is possible that we will one day create another supercar, but in my view, a super-high-end machine is not what we need right now."

We’ve already mentioned Lexus’ president interest in an engaging GT car but that will come in the form of the LC F and there might be nothing planned above it. The point is that we shouldn’t hold our breaths for a new LFA. Yes, we’ve seen the old girl testing around the Nordschleife but, apparently, insiders say that the extended wheel arches were there to test some racing tire compounds on what remains, even today, the fastest platform between Toyota and Lexus... so there might be no smoke and no underlining fire in the end. We’ll have to wait and see!

Further reading

2011 Lexus LF-A
- image 328612

Read our full review on the 2011 Lexus LFA.

2012 Lexus LF-A Nurburgring Package High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 393523

Read our full review on the 2012 Lexus LF-A Nurburgring Package.

2020 Lexus LC F Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 662618

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Lexus LC F.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: