2007 Detroit Auto Show - Lexus IS-F and LF-A Press Conference



PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Bob Carter Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager
Lexus IS-F and LF-A Press Conference
2007 North American International Auto Show

Detroit January 8, 2007; Thank you, Irv, and good morning everyone. Welcome to day two of what has become the industry's most important and most exciting annual auto show.

Now, we're especially pleased that you could join us here today because we've got not one, but two special vehicles to show you. They're very different vehicles, to be sure, but they come from the same DNA, from the same design philosophy, and they have the same heritage.

And while their purpose isn't to dispel myths or to counter points of view, that is, in fact, what these cars do. We realize that to some, Lexus vehicles are perceived simply as mainstream luxury vehicles, but today we will change those perceptions and introduce a new Lexus marque. The marque is the Lexus "F."

Most people do not know that when the idea of Lexus was first conceived 20 years ago, the original project was internally coded "Circle-F." The Circle-F designation evolved into the name Flagship One, or F1, which became the code for our very first car, the LS.

Since then, the "F" has signified a special vehicle program within the Lexus corporate development system. These are vehicles that needed to venture down a unique path with different standards than other vehicles. This brings me to the first of two new F-designated cars that we will show you today.

You first saw the LF-A, an exercise aimed at defining the supercar concept, at this show two years ago. We were very pleased with the response it generated. After the buzz of excitement following that show, something interesting happened-the LF-A grew a second life.

Instead of letting it go the way of most concept cars, rotting away under a tarp in a warehouse somewhere, the ideas represented by the LF-A seemed to us like a great story might seem to you. The LF-A was similar to a story that sat, not yet published for a while.

Perhaps you've experienced this. After a time you've revisited the story, given it another edit, a fresh think, if you will. And lo and behold, the piece was even better than it was before.

That's what's happened with the LF-A, and that's why we're here to show you the next evolution of that vehicle, which now proudly wears the "F" marque.

(LF-A Reveal)

Our goals with the new LF-A are no different than they were with the original concept: To build a supercar with world-class performance. We thought about what a supercar should be, and then started to design what a Lexus version of a luxury exotic could be.

As with all new Lexus cars, the styling of the LF-A is rooted in a design direction we call L-finesse. This concept was used to reshape, re-detail, and redefine the latest iteration. 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 LF-A is powered by a high-revving 500-plus horsepower V10 engine, a powerplant that will produce the kind of exhaust note that any car enthusiast will love. In addition, its front mid-engine placement, along with a rear-mounted transaxle and rear-mounted radiators, allow for excellent weight distribution.

Over 500 horsepower, superior aerodynamics, and revised styling make a top speed of 200 mph not only possible but probable.

The first LF-A was a pure concept, but one we went so far as to do engineering analysis on at our Higashi Fuji Technical Center and on the track at Fuji Speedway. This latest concept is much closer to a vehicle that we would bring to market and one we will be gauging consumer interest in. It's also one I'd love to have parked in my own garage.

So that's a look at what we have for you for, perhaps, tomorrow. But how about today? That brings me to the very first Lexus production vehicle deserving of the "F" marque.

It's certainly fast, as you will see when you are able to conduct your road tests, and it absolutely conforms to the Lexus formula of car building.

Well, sort of. Actually, it deviates from the usual Lexus formula in one important way.

Rather than being the product of a carefully plotted and approved corporate plan, this car is, in the best tradition of the factory-based hotrod, the result of an effort by a "Skunk Works" team, a covert operation populated by a team of, well, rogue engineers.

These are free-thinking performance freaks who developed their own vision for a Lexus performance car, a carefully planned and engineered vehicle that was not part of our carefully planned corporate program.

They developed this vehicle while endorsing the "Lexus Musts," a rigorous set of development standards. We also added a couple of additional Musts, the sort of Musts that you might expect hard-core enthusiasts to demand:

Must be balanced. Must be authentic. And, most importantly, Must haul a**. And here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the all-new 2008 Lexus IS-F… (IS-F Reveal)

The IS-F is based on the proven rear-wheel-drive Lexus IS, so it begins life with what we think of as an excellent foundation. But as good as the standard IS is, our performance-crazed engineers weren't satisfied.

So they developed a performance-tuned 5.0-liter 400-plus horsepower V8 engine with more than 350 foot-pounds of torque, topped with specially engineered heads and fed by a two-stage intake manifold. This is the fire-breather our guys very carefully inserted into the IS platform. It certainly makes me smile just to think of it.

But it gets better. Because you've got to put all that power to the ground, the world's first eight-speed direct sport-shift transmission was developed.

In keeping with the demands of today's market, the IS-F has a unique gear box which features an advanced Manual mode. A pair of paddles located within a fingertip's reach behind the steering wheel give the driver full control to make ultra-fast up-shifts. Gear changes come in a tenth of a second.

A new torque-converter lock-up control was developed. This new design allows for a very direct, crisp gear change through the constant lock-up of the torque converter in second through eighth gears. The torque converter also allows for great launch ability for fast standing-start acceleration. Downshifts, meanwhile, are accompanied by incredibly precise throttle blips to match engine RPM to vehicle speed.

For all that high-speed driving, the all-new IS-F is equipped with engine oil and transmission fluid coolers, as well as a cylinder head scavenging oil pump for high g-force driving.

With a zero-to-60 time of less than 4.9 seconds, what goes must also stop. So for brakes, we went with the very best we could find, Brembo.

Designed to Lexus specifications, the brakes consist of huge, 14.2-inch cross-drilled front discs gripped by rigid, powerful six-piston aluminum calipers and 13.6-inch rear cross-drilled discs that use two-piston calipers. We dropped in high-friction brake pads and were so excited about the end results we even put our name on the calipers.

The size of those brake discs should provide a clue about the IS-F's wheel size. The wheels are custom-designed and built, again to our specifications, by BBS. They are standard 19-inch forged alloy wheels clad with fat, sticky high-performance sport tires that cling to the pavement the way paint clings to a wall.

To extract the most from this wheel-and-tire combo, and to make the most of the power and flexibility of the IS-F's engine/transmission combination, the already excellent IS suspension was modified in a way that makes the car ready for track days, and lowers the entire vehicle by a full inch when compared to other IS models. The shocks, springs, bushings, roll-bars, and even the steering tuning were designed exclusively for the "F" model.

In addition to those modifications, an all-new three mode version of our Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system, or VDIM, was engineered specifically for this car. In Sport mode, the VDIM system allows the driver to push it even further before the safety features and traction control systems kick in. Or, if you want a real test of talent, just turn it off completely.

The result is a car with more grip, more responsiveness, more driver feedback, and more agility than anything we've ever produced.

With all this attention to performance, we didn't forget that this car should make a visual impact, something that differentiates it from the standard IS. To that end we provided it with dual exhausts with quad-tail pipes that will produce that wonderful aggressive exhaust note we expect of powerful V8s. The IS-F features wider front fenders, grille, and rear-deck spoiler. We even had to redesign a larger hood and lower intake just to fit and cool the bigger engine.

All this wrapped around an interior that offers specially shaped and trimmed seats that hold the driver comfortably and securely in place. The sport seats are available in black or a unique high-contrast white and black trim.

I mentioned earlier how the IS-F came about in a most unusual way for a Lexus vehicle. You know, industry history has shown us that some of the best cars ever built wouldn't exist if they had followed company development rules. The original Pontiac GTO and the first Corvette are examples of cars that wouldn't have been developed if someone didn't break the rules and champion their cause.

I'd like to introduce you to our rule breaker and the person most responsible for the development of the all-new IS-F, Chief Engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi. Yaguchi-san …

Yaguchi-san did not want to simply build an "IS 500." That would have been too easy. He wanted to create a true performance sedan in a uniquely Lexus way … and he did.

So, the IS-F takes "F" to a whole new meaning for the Lexus lineup by becoming a performance marque all its own. Think of the "F" no longer as a mere letter code, but as an exclamation point.

Now I'm sure you are wondering what our next "F" marque car will be. Hopefully you won't have to wait too long, or look too far, for that announcement.

You can expect to see the all-new IS-F in dealer showrooms around this time next year, but you'll have to get in line behind me for the first test drive. Thank you all for joining us today. It's now my pleasure to turn the stage back over to Irv.

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