The following article (and photos) has been submitted by a lucky LFA owner who participated in a recent LFA owners event at the Nürburgring in Germany — the same event where Akira Iida ran his record-setting laptime of the Nordschleife.
In summary – bucket list item … checked!
Yup, it was that good.
When we arrived at the Frankfurt airport, Lexus had representatives waiting in a Lexus RX Hybrid to take us to the posh Linder Hotel (where all the drivers and fans of the 24hr races generally stay). There was a nice greeting in the room welcoming us to the historic Nürburgring and an outline of the events to follow. Before dinner, we had cocktails and beers and met other LFA owners (some of which we knew before) so it was great to visit and reconnect. Dinner then was served at the hotel restaurant – lavish spread, great meal. Of course, all sponsored by Lexus.
Next day (closest to the best day of my life) – we found ourselves on the Nordschleife. Yup, the Green Hell. When we got to the track (via Lexus RXs), there sat 6 beautiful LFAs – all being prepped for a day on the track. There were actually a total of 7 but the 7th was doing photo shoot duty / backup in case of mishaps. There were two Nürburgring editions there among the cars.
In the courtesy tent, they had set up snacks, refreshments, and of course, hoards and hoards of Lexus reps at our service. They waited on us like we were royalty. Each of us were given the opportunity to put on a racing suit and helmet – then it’s off on the track.
The Lexus team had devised a great timeline so all guests would be able to DRIVE an LFA for a total of four laps on the Nordschleife while being the ONLY CAR on the track. Lexus rented the entire track for us (BTW, that’s 40,000 Euros to rent the north loop for a day).
Every time out, we had an IS-F lead car showing us the proper line to take. Any race track is dangerous, but the Nordschleife is difficult even for professionals, so having a lead car is a must for novices. It also allowed us to experience what the car can really do instead of worry about what is coming around the corner. You brake when the lead car brakes, you stay to the left when it goes to the left, and so on and so forth.
It could be just self preservation since I didn’t know the course (I had one hot lap there before), but the first time out I was a bit timid. My time (recorded via in-car camera with telemetries) was around 9:00 (way short of what a pro can do in the LFA on this course). After that, we stop – take a break and the pro driving the lead car gives me some pointers (follow closer). He was inviting me to follow closer so we can all go faster!
Meanwhile, Lexus has invited Mr. Tanahashi (the chief engineer behind the LFA) to talk to us via an interpreter. His love for the car is apparent. Meeting him was another highlight in my automotive life. Lexus had a fully functional cut-away LFA there so Mr. Tanahashi can show us the guts of the car (and to field questions).
After a short break, it was the double lapper. This time, I was right on the lead car, but every time I would catch him, he pulled away. Mind you – the pro is in an IS-F – not an LFA, which proves that skill trumps power every time.
I saw my lap times get better and better. On the back straight, I was hitting 265km/h and probably could have gone faster but it was very windy and the lead car did have a max speed. Even as a novice, the LFA was just sublime. It took all the mistakes I made and shrugged them off. Even with some minor drifting on tight corners, it was never out of composure. The car made me a MUCH better driver than I am. Never did it lose control. The grip was phenomenal. The sound was just heavenly. I was living my dream. I was going like a bat-out-of-hell in a super car on the famous Nordschleife!
As if that was not enough – then Lexus planned for one lap with me piloting the Nurburgring edition around the track. Same format – lead/follow. This time, it was different. I was confident. The car was made for this track. I personally think my best lap was in the Nurburgring edition (unfortunately, this was the only car not equipped with camera and telemetries). It was definitely the most awe-inspiring lap. Wow, wow, wow. The LFA is amazing, and in my mind, perfection. The Nurburgring edition just pushed it over the top when I didn’t think it was possible.
Then, the icing on the cake – Lexus has arranged to take each of us on a hot lap in the Nurburgring edition (not just a “normal” one either, but one with a roll-cage and fully modified for the track). I was very lucky to have Mr. Iida as my pro driver (the driver who broke the production car Nürburgring record). Even carrying me around, he managed a 7:20! So I assure you there was no holding back. It was a ride of a lifetime for me.
So let’s recap, I have now driven the Nordschleife in an LFA. I’ve taken a hot-lap with a record breaking pro on the same track. What more could I ask for?
Lexus doesn’t like to leave well enough alone! There was a formal presentation & gala organized that evening where they announced the historic news of the record breaking lap (taken just hours before dinner by Mr. Iida). So more reasons to celebrate! After our bellies are full of food and drinks, we retire to our room only to find a framed picture of the LFA signed by Mr. Tanahashi himself. What a treasure!
And the next morning – you would think that’s it – wrong! Since the LFA has a dual personality – Lexus wanted us to experience it. They put each of us in an LFA and set us off by ourselves to tour a predefined route around Germany’s little towns (and famous Autobahn). I was lucky – I was paired with the Nurburgring edition again. The day-to-day drivability of the car was apparent. It was comfortable with all the modern amenities you would expect from a Lexus. The drive was around an hour & a half and I never felt fatigued (try that in a Lambo!) And yes, when I got to the Autobahn section, I hit 300 km/h (probably more if it was not for that VW – you know who you are …. ).
So what does all of this mean? It means that Lexus has once again redefined what customer satisfaction / appreciation is and should be. We had already purchased the car. There was no need to woo us. Yet Lexus spent an obscene amount of money to make the experience of owning an LFA even better. And to all of you out there who thought this was a sales event – it was not. It was all about customer appreciation.
My wife and I do not even have our LFA yet (it’s a secondary color), so technically Lexus did not have to invite us. This was above and beyond what I expected. Most of the time, you buy a Ferrari or a Lambo – you’re just a name on the list, no one really cares. They may arrange for a factory tour or give you some personalized gifts, but to invite you for a once-in-a-lifetime event? Never in my wildest dreams.
In summary, I was able to check a bucket list item off – thanks to Lexus. I’ve always been a loyal customer / fan. There is no doubt in mind that I am now a lifetime customer. If you have never owned a Lexus, I strongly urge you to at least go and take a look. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying Lexus is a classy operation. I love my wife more than life itself. I would never want any harm to come her way. I can rest easy knowing that her Lexus keeps her safe. And no, I don’t work for Lexus nor is Lexus paying me to say any of this.
A Proud Lexus Owner