Lexus LF-A: the lowdown
Japanese luxury brand Lexus hopes to shed its reputation for low-character luxury cars when it launches its first supercar later this year. It plans to copy the success the NSX had for domestic rival Honda, which helped to transform that brand into one associated with sporty dynamics. As mission statements go, this prototype LF-A has a definite swagger: the low-slung, bespoilered supercar was seen pounding the Nurburgring in Germany at high speed and bystanders reported a shrieking V10 wail unlike any of the more serene Lexus models we're used to. Click 'Next' to read the full mechanical spec on one of next year's most intriguing supercars.
Haven't I seen this before?
Lexus has shown the LF-A concept car in numerous guises since 2005, most recently at the 2007 Detroit Motor Show, where officials were briefing journalists that, yes, it was becoming more and more likely for production. Now we can see why. The finished car will be unveiled on home turf at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, and it's destined to go on sale in 2008. Although lightly disguised, it's not hard to see that Lexus has barely toned down the concept car for the road. There are still outrageous styling cues never before seen on a Lexus limo - including cooling scoops on the bonnet and a huge great spoiler sprouting from the rear deck.
So what's the mechanical spec?
This is a proper Lexus supercar. It's a two-seater, with the engine mounted up front, GT style and not mid-engined as reported elsewhere. CAR Online understands the LF-A will use a rear transaxle and rear radiators, however, for more neutral weight distribution. Like the concept car, expect a V10 petrol of around 5.0 litres in capacity, tuned to produce some 500bhp. That's enough to make it easily the fastest Lexus in history, capable of smashing the magical 200mph barrier. Only the details have changed since the concept car, so we expect the production car to follow its dimensions closely, suggesting a length of 4460mm and a width of 1900mm. It's strictly a two-seater.
Can Lexus really make a supercar though?
Don't forget that 20 years ago everyone doubted the Japanese's ability to rival the German luxury hegemony - and look where Lexus is today. Toyota has carried out an even more extensive test programme than usual on the LF-A, and it's hard to believe it would countenance a sports car that isn't worthy of the name. We're not expecting a 911 chaser by any means, but with a 500bhp power output, the LF-A should hardly be a soft and relaxing GT with no dynamic prowess through the twisties. But can its engineers really get away from the saloons' soft and sterile dynamics? It's a tall order. And the LF-A isn't the only Lexus that's been working out down the gym. The IS-F sports saloon is Japan's answer to the M3 - and matches the BMW, Mercedes C-class AMG and Audi's RS4 with V8 power.