Kapi-Mana News : June 26th 2012
44 KAPI-MANA NEWS, JUNE 26, 2012 MOTORING DIGITAL EDITION ONLINE • Regular news updates during week • Read complete latest edition online • Read back issues online • Interact with us via Facebook • A direct link to advertisers www.kapimananews.co.nz 3944515 Music that brings tears to your eyes Slip-sliding away: Only the highly skilled need apply. Getting to know the Lexus LFA can be an emotional process, says Dave Moore. After letting me drift and wriggle around Hampton Downs race circuit in all manner of Lexus GS models and even the hot-to-trot V8-powered iSF, Toyota New Zealand had to put its foot down, as it were, due to increasingly wet conditions. It couldn t afford for me to smash its fabulous LFA supercar into the wall or dig a hole for it in one of the circuit s many run-off areas. Instead, I had to make do with a few extremely fast laps with Aussie touring car and rally ace Neal Bates. He s well qualified, and well trusted by Toyota having spent 19 years running the com- pany s official rally programme in Australia. Even under his control and effort, the LFA was a handful -- what I d have done in the same soggy conditions doesn t bear to think about -- but with a flick and a slide, it was fun to witness a car at the top of Toyota s developmental game in the hands of a driver at the top of his own. Cripes, this car goes. While the jury isn t even sequestered on the LFA s complex and some say over- wrought styling, no-one can be less than impressed with the machine s power and especially the noise it makes when produc- ing it. There are V10 engines, and there are V10 engines. Audi and Lamborghini efforts are cultured and almost mellifluous in the way they sound, with the Italian maker proving to be a little more operatic when the wick s turned up. The Dodge Viper V10 s truck heritage makes a very sorry sound by comparison. Even with knowledge and experience of those other V10s I was not prepared for the LFA s, 4.8-litre unit, which with 412kW of power and 480Nm of torque on tap, can slingshot its contents to 230kmh-plus on Hampton Downs short pit straight and on to a top speed well in excess of 320kmh. With a fully tramped throttle, the car can rev to its 9000rpm red- line in just over half a second, building from an almost rattly, reticent idle to a goose-bump gen- erating shriek with a voice like a very pained and aggressive cat. It brings tears to your eyes. Liter- ally. It s even better when the car passes by, snatching each of its six ratios through the automated sequential gearbox in just 0.2 of a second. Downshifts are even bet- ter. As Bates squeezes the down paddle on the steering shaft for each approaching corner, that des- cant works in reverse, blipping the throttle ready for the revs to accurately match the lower, incoming ratio. Its music is uncannily beautiful to listen to, made all the more so when you realise how it s generated, by carefully arranged explosions, occurring within 10 alloy-sheathed cylinders, just to entertain -- and accelerate you, the observer. From inside the car, the rising and falling doppler effect you get as the car drives past is absent. There s just the rise and fall of revs and it s all the purer as a result. Especially when you add the lateral and longitudinal side forces. There are plenty of those. A car that can duck into the threes for the zero to 100kmh sprint is quite violent, especially under launch control, while even in the wet, its massive 390mm front and 360mm rear disc brakes canstopthecarasifithitacon- crete wall. The LFA will stick to the road like the proverbial to a blanket until the laws of physics call good-night nurse . I m almost glad they wouldn t let me drive the car on these conditions, for two reasons. One, I d make an ass of myself and a mess of the car, and secondly, I wouldn t be able to appreciate that amazing engine when concentrating on keeping the car on the tarmac. I wouldn t be going as quickly as Neal Bates, either. His hands blur like a good pianist s, fingers squeezing paddles and stroking the wheel as he commits, corrects and sets-up this $800,000 car on Hampton Downs wicked changes of radius and elevation. Both ends inevitably drift gently wide as he balances the car through rain-sodden corners but Bates is still able to gather-up the beast into a flat-out lunge when- ever the tarmacadam looks like straightening. Then it s that hackle-raising shriek of engine- generated pleasure as the stand seats and the pits blur on each side, and the ratios slam-dunk sequentially without any acceler- ative interruption at all. It s a strap-hanging welcome to the braking process, as the belts force the air out of your lungs. Thank heaven this car stops as well as it goes. Thanks Neal.
June 19th 2012
July 3rd 2012