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Detroit Auto Show: Lexus unveiled the IS-F and LF-A


Lexus unveiled the Lexus IS-F high-performance luxury sedan and the Lexus LF-A sports-car concept at a press conference today at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
The all-new 2008 Lexus IS-F high-performance luxury sedan will deliver more than 400 horsepower from a 5.0-liter V8 engine when it goes into production. The Lexus LF-A supercar concept is equipped witha V10 engine that produces more than 500 horsepower. Together, the two exciting new cars make a dramatic statement of Lexus performance.

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 Circle-F designation further evolved into the code name Flagship One, or F1, and the first F1 concept developed into Lexus'' first vehicle, the LS. Since then, the "F" code has come to signify a special vehicle program within Lexus that falls outside the normal engineering and development process.

"Lexus has long been perceived as the maker of mainstream luxury vehicles, but the unveiling of the IS-F and LF-A not only changes this perception, it also introduces a new Lexus marque," said Bob Carter, Lexus Division group vice president and general manager. "The ''F'' shared by both vehicles is the signature for a new high-performance marque conceived by an engineering team that dared to turn their dream of ''a Lexus like no other'' into a reality."

Lexus IS-F Performance Sedan

Much of the development of the new IS-F took place at Fuji Speedway and the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan. The IS-F is based on the proven rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS, which is equipped with a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension. As well as the IS performs, Lexus engineers demanded much more of the all-new IS-F. The result is a performance tuned 5.0-liter V8 engine, topped with specially engineered heads fed by a two-stage intake system, that produces 400-plus horsepower and more than 350 ft.-lbs. of torque. The all-new IS-F is equipped with engine-oil and transmission-fluid coolers for high-speed performance and a cylinder head-scavenging oil pump for high g-force driving.

The IS-F engine is mated to the world''s first eight-speed direct sport- shift transmission. A new torque-converter lock-up control was developed that allows for a direct, crisp gear change through the constant lock-up of the torque converter in second through eighth gears. In Drive mode, the IS-F transmission performs with great smoothness, and the torque converter allows for great launch ability for fast standing-start acceleration that will register a zero-to-60 time in less than 4.9 seconds.

This unique transmission also features an advanced Manual mode. A pair of paddles located within a fingertip''s reach behind the steering wheel enables the driver to make ultra-fast up-shift gear changes 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 acceleration achieved by the IS-F requires it be equipped with heavy-duty Brembo brakes designed to the specifications of the Lexus engineering team. Huge, 14.2-inch cross-drilled front discs are gripped by rigid, powerful six-piston aluminum calipers, while 13.6-inch rear cross- drilled discs feature two-piston calipers. High-friction brake pads are equipped on all four wheels. The brakes are finished with the Lexus name displayed on the calipers, a first for a Lexus production vehicle.

The IS-F features custom-designed 19-inch forged alloy wheels as standard. The wheels were built to Lexus specifications by BBS and are surrounded by high-performance sport tires.

The attention to performance also extends to a modified suspension that lowers the entire car by more than a half-inch when compared to the base IS, and one full inch when compared to IS models equipped with 18-inch wheels. This specially modified suspension allows for an exciting and energetic drive, whether on a race track or the streets.

The IS-F 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 allows the driver to push 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 fenders, and a larger grille and rear spoiler. Both the hood and lower intake were enlarged to accommodate and cool the V8 engine.

Like the exterior, the interior of the IS-F receives unique styling with aluminized composite trim and special surface treatments. The instrument panel includes an oil-temperature gauge and shift indicator-lights, while the "F" logo is showcased on the steering wheel and rear-center 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-sport sedans," said Carter. "Rather, the goal was to create a true performance sedan 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.''"

Lexus LF-A Sports Car Concept

The Lexus LF-A sports-car concept was originally shown at the 2005 NAIAS 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 vehicles, the styling of the LF-A is rooted in a design direction called L-finesse. The concept of L-finesse was used to shape and detail the original LF-A, and it was used to reshape, redetail and redefine this latest version. Lexus has further refined the styling of the new LF-A to enhance its exotic nature with a greater use of curved surfaces and interesting details.

The running gear of the LF-A is just as it was with the original, powered by a high-revving 500-plus horsepower V10 engine. Its front mid-engine placement, along with a rear-mounted transaxle and rear-mounted radiators, allows for excellent weight distribution. The horsepower, superior aerodynamics, and revised styling makes 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" marque, is located on each front fender.

"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."

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