Two High-Performance Cars Move Lexus Philosophy Forward
Lexus is 18 years old in 2007 and like most car crazy people of that age it wants to go fast. Famed across the world as the maker of the most luxurious and refined cars, Lexus has now added speed and performance to the mix with two new sports cars unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show.
The first is the IS-F, a high-performance version of the IS saloon with more than 400 horsepower from a 5.0-litre, V8 engine. The second is the LF-A supercar, a sportscar concept equipped with a V10 engine that produces more than 500 horsepower. Together, these exciting new cars make a dramatic statement about Lexus performance.
“Lexus has long been perceived as the maker of luxury vehicles, but the unveiling of the IS-F and LF-A not only changes this perception, it also introduces a new Lexus designation,” said Bob Carter, Lexus US Division Group Vice President and General Manager. “The ‘F’ shared by both vehicles is the signature for a new high-performance brand, conceived by an engineering team that dared to turn their dream of ‘a Lexus like no other’ into a reality.”
IS-F Performance Saloon
Starting with the proven rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS 250, which is already equipped with a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, the IS-F is powered by a performance tuned 5.0-litre V8 engine. Featuring specially engineered heads fed by a two-stage intake system, it produces 400+ horsepower and more than 350ftlbs of torque. Easy to see why the Lexus engineers did much of the development of the new car at Fuji Speedway, the new home of the Japanese Grand Prix.
The IS-F engine is mated to the world’s first eight-speed automatic gearbox. A new torque-converter lock-up control was developed that allows for impressive acceleration and a direct, crisp gear change through the constant lock-up of the torque converter except in first gear. A 0-60mph time in less than 4.9 seconds is predicted.
In Drive mode, the IS-F transmission performs with typical Lexus smoothness, but this unique transmission also features an advanced Manual mode operated via a pair of paddles located within a fingertip’s reach behind the steering wheel. These enable the driver to make ultra-fast up-shifts within a tenth of a second. Downshifts are accompanied by automated and incredibly precise throttle blips to match engine RPM to vehicle speed.
The impressive performance achieved by the IS-F is restrained by huge, 14.2-inch cross-drilled front discs by Brembo, gripped by rigid, powerful six-piston aluminium callipers, while 13.6-inch rear cross-drilled discs feature two-piston callipers. The Lexus name is displayed on the callipers, a first for a Lexus production vehicle.
The massive brakes hide behind custom-designed 19-inch forged alloy wheels as standard. The wheels were built to Lexus specifications by BBS.
The attention to performance also extends to a modified suspension that lowers the entire car by an inch when compared to IS models equipped with 18-inch wheels. This specially modified suspension allows for an enthusiastic driving sensation.
The IS-F also features an all-new three-mode version of Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. In addition to the Normal mode, the new VDIM features a Sport mode that allows the driver to push the car even further before its braking, throttle and steering control systems kick in. The third VDIM system mode is Off, which gives the driver unassisted control to enjoy the IS-F to its ultimate level of handling performance.
The attention to performance is complemented by modified styling cues that differentiate the IS-F from the standard IS. Lexus engineers provided the IS-F with a dual-exhaust system and quad-tail pipes, wider front wings with highly distinctive vents behind the front wheel, as well as a larger grille and rear spoiler. Both the bonnet and lower air intake were enlarged to accommodate and cool the V8 engine.
The interior of the IS-F receives unique styling treatment with aluminium and composite trim and special surface treatments. The instrument panel includes an oil-temperature gauge and shift indicator-lights, while the “F” logo is prominent on the steering wheel and rear-centre console.
In addition to the usual Lexus standards of comfort and convenience, the interior of the IS-F features specially shaped and trimmed seats, which hold the driver comfortably and securely in place. The special sport seats are available in black or a unique high-contrast white and black trim.
“The intent of creating the IS-F was not to be a competitor to other performance saloons,” said Carter. “Rather, the goal was to create a true performance saloon in a uniquely Lexus way, one that is totally authentic with a unique interpretation of raw driving thrill at all speeds and provides a whole new definition of ‘usable power.'”
The IS-F will arrive at Lexus dealerships in early 2008. Prices will be released nearer that time.
New LF-A Sports Car Concept
The LF-A sports-car concept was originally shown in 2005 to express a bold new direction in styling for the Lexus brand. The goals for the new LF-A are no different than they were with the original concept; to build a supercar with world class performance that is uniquely Lexus.
As with all new Lexus cars, the styling of the LF-A is rooted in a design philosophy known as L-finesse which was used to shape and detail the original LF-A and it was used to reshape and redefine this latest version, enhancing its exotic nature with a greater use of curved surfaces and intriguing details.
The LF-A is powered by a high-revving, 500+ bhp V10 engine. Its front mid-engine placement, along with a rear mounted transmission and rear mounted radiators, allows for excellent weight distribution and agile handling. The horsepower and refined aerodynamics make a top speed of 200 mph not only possible, but probable.
An “F” logo, indicating the vehicle’s status as a part of the new “F” brand, is located on each front wing.
“The first LF-A was a pure concept, but one that we went so far as to conduct engineering analysis on,” said Carter. “This latest concept is much closer to a vehicle that we would bring to market, and one in which we will be gauging consumer interest.”
Why the “F”?
The IS-F and LF-A are very different vehicles, yet they share the same DNA, design philosophy, and heritage. Prominent in both vehicles, the “F” designation was first conceived nearly 20 years ago with a project internally coded “Circle-F,” with the “F” standing for “flagship”. This was the original code for what became the Lexus Division. The designation further evolved into the code name Flagship One, or F1, and the first F1 concept developed into Lexus’s first vehicle, the LS 400 launched in 1989. Since then, the “F” code has come to signify a special vehicle programme within Lexus that falls outside the normal engineering and development process.
Lexus IS-F Preliminary Specifications
Engine: 5.0-litre V8
Estimated horsepower: More than 400
Estimated torque: More than 350 lbft.
Transmission: Eight-speed direct paddle sport shift gear box
Large diameter cross-drilled discs
Front/Rear: 14.2 inches/13.6 inches
Opposed aluminium callipers
Front/Rear: Six piston/two piston
Forged aluminium wheels
Front: 225/40R19 (19 x8)
Rear: 255/35R19 (19 x 9)
0-60mph: Under 4.9 seconds
Fuel economy: TBD
Emissions rating: ULEV II
Overall length: 183.5
Overall width: 71.5
Overall height: 55.5
Lexus LF-A Sports Concept Preliminary Specifications
Engine: V10 (under 5.0-litres)
Power: 500+ bhp
Top speed: est. 200mph
Overall length: 175.6
Overall width: 74.6
Overall height: 48.0