Thursday, March 6, 2008

The New Lexus LF-A

A development of the second generation LF-A coupe which was first unveiled at the 2007 Geneva Motor show, the roadster further reflects the genesis of the Lexus ‘F’ designation; an ultra-high performance sports range for the premium automotive segment.

The F-sports programme exhaustively refines and re-defines powertrain technology, chassis dynamics, superlative braking systems, sports tyre technology and even vehicle sound signatures in the most minute detail. It is passionately committed to the design and production of peerless sporting vehicles which reward their drivers with the ultimate in performance, handling precision and, above all, unparalleled involvement, whether circuit racing or in everyday use.

Combining the cutting-edge technology and luxury refinements appropriate to the brand with the ultra-high performance and outstanding driving dynamics of an open-top, two-seater sportscar, the LF-A roadster is more than merely a radical statement of supercar performance. Incorporating the very latest developments in precision high-performance engineering technology with the core values of the L-finesse design philosophy, the Lexus F-sports special vehicle programme has realised a fundamental reappraisal of both styling and engineering in supercar design, which redefines the boundaries of the ultra-high performance sportscar landscape.

Lexus designers have taken a radical approach to proportion and packaging. “The LF-A programme is a fundamental shift in both style and design.” explains Wahei Hirai, Global Managing officer of Lexus design. “The positioning and sizing of major components have been redefined and condensed. By taking an entirely different approach to proportion and packaging we have achieved the ultimate weight balance, so vital to high-speed handling and stability.”

Featuring significant styling and detail enhancements, the LF-A roadster is based on the ultra-rigid, yet lightweight, carbon fibre and aluminium construction of the 2007 coupe, maintaining the structure’s outstanding strength and torsional stiffness despite its open-topped format.

As with its coupe counterpart, the LF-A Roadster is powered by a radical, lightweight, all-alloy V10 powerplant capable of developing more that 500 DIN hp from a cubic capacity of less than 5.0L. The V10’s front-mid engine placement, along with a rear-mounted transmission and rear-mounted radiators, allows for perfect front/rear weight distribution. The engine is connected to the transmission via a torque tube and propeller shaft, and gear changing is controlled by a high-speed, steering wheel-mounted, semi-automatic paddle shift system. The torque tube itself acts as a structural member, adding rigidity to the drivetrain and chassis whilst minimising drive-train vibration. Allied to optimum gearing, weight and aerodynamics, the drive-train is designed to afford the vehicle a maximum speed in excess of 320km/h.

The exceptionally powerful, fade-free braking system employs 360mm cross-drilled, ventilated front discs with six-piston callipers, and 345mm cross-drilled, ventilated discs with four-piston callipers to the rear. High-performance, 265/35 R20 front and 305/30 R20 rear tyres are fitted to bespoke, turbine-styled, 20” alloy wheels.

Standing just 122cm high, the LF-A Roadster’s styling exudes the core principals of the L-finesse design rationale, in which simplicity and dynamism go hand in hand. Bold and incisive forms that build on the inherent structure of the vehicle create an authentic dynamism that does not rely on simple exaggeration. The purity and clear intention of the vehicle stance is overlaid with the confident integration of numerous functional elements to create a striking, yet sophisticated simplicity.

The ultra-compact design -4460mm long with a 2606mm wheelbase- features the shortest possible front and rear overhangs. The Roadster’s low-profile, aerodynamic front end features numerous revisions to the LF-A coupe concept, including a remodelling of the air intakes and enlarged headlamp clusters generated by a powerful ‘arrowhead’ motif inspired by Kirikaeshi, a symbol of traditional Japanese culture that expresses dynamism through a rapid, yet fluid change of direction, which is a key L-finesse styling element.

Large intakes ducting cooling air to the rear brakes and rear-mounted radiators dominate the LF-A roadster profile, and include prominent, high-level, ‘turn-upstyle intakes informed by the sophisticated, wind-tunnel honed aerodynamics of single-seat racing cars.

Astern, the LF-A roadster is hallmarked by an enlarged, restyled interpretation of the coupe’s unique, ‘arrowhead’ tail light cluster design which incorporates large cooling duct grilles for the rear mounted radiators. Flush mounted within the bodywork when inoperative, an automatic, speed-sensitive rear wing has been incorporated to enhance the roadster’s high-speed stability. Below bumper levela triple exhaust cluster in an inverted triangular form indicates the presence of the complex, Venturi-effect underbody aerodynamics essential to optimise high-speed handling and stability.

On board, the positioning and sizing of all major components has been redefined and condensed to create a striking, exceptionally driver-focused cockpit highlighted by unique instrumentation and floor hinged alloy pedals. Eschewing conventional dashboard design, the LF-A Roadster features a prominent, full-width, low level console supporting the compact driver’s instrument binnacle and F-Sports steering wheel. This simplicity of form reinforces both the upper level width of the spacious, full leather interior, and the optimum security and support offered by deep footwells and strongly bolstered sports seats.

An ‘F’ logo located on the front wings indicates the Roadster’s special vehicle programme pedigree. The name is derived from the Fuji Speedway, the shape of the ‘F’ logo itself inspired by many of the bends on the circuit.

LF-A Roadster Preliminary Technical Specifications:

Power train
Engine: Sub-5.0L V10, front-mid placement
Horsepower: Over 500 DIN hp
Top Speed: Over 320 km/h

Body & Dynamics
Aluminium and carbon-fibre body
Speed-activated rear spoiler
Torque tube encased drive shaft

Overall length: 4,460 mm
Overall width: 1,895 mm
Overall height: 1,220 mm
Wheelbase: 2,605 mm

Tyre Size
Front: 265/35R20
Rear: 305/30R20

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