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Lexus Unveils $375K LFA Supercar

LexusLFA1As usual, Autoblog is all over the Lexus LFA announcement, with the official press release, some analysis, photos, and video--all confirming that we now live in a world in which Lexus sells a $375K supercar. These photos and more can be found in the Autoblog image gallery.

The exhaust note certainly sounds great, and the performance specifications (552 horsepower, 3.7-second 0-60 time, 202-mph top speed) are nice, but I still don't really understand this car.

Lexus says the LFA will cost $375K. It's easy to gloss over big numbers when reading them in print, so I'm going to do the pretentious author thing and spell it out--three-hundred-and-seventy-five-thousand dollars. That is a lot of money--more than many Americans can afford to spend on a house, even with the payments spread out over 30 years. That amount of money is what you'd pay for an ultra-mega-supercar from Ferrari or Lamborghini, which both have the cachet, styling, and image to attract customers in this price stratum. More specifically, it's roughly four times as expensive as a Nissan GT-R, which is an astounding performer in its own right.

I don't really see how this makes much sense as an extension to the Lexus line. Top-of-the-line Ferraris and Lamborghinis make sense even in limited volumes; these range-toppers add cachet and attract buyers for the less-expensive, higher-volume sports cars. A customer who dreams about a $350K Lamborghini Murcielago would be able to step down to a $198K Lamborghini Gallardo or even its corporate cousin, the $115K Audi R8. Those of us with less robust resources could satisfy our performance cravings with other corporate stablemates--an Audi RS4, an Audi TT, a Volkswagen GTI to satisfy our performance cravings. Likewise, Ferrari offers a range of exotic sports cars, underpinned with Maserati sports-luxury cars and inexpensive but fun Alfa Romeos and Fiats. The upgrade lines are cohesive; the customer path makes sense.

LexusLFA2For Lexus, on the other hand, a $375K ultra-sports car seems way, way off-brand. Toyota has no comparable range of options for the enthusiast who falls in love with the LFA. The closest thing Lexus can offer to the extreme performance enthusiast is probably the ISF compact sports sedan--it's a nice piece, but way downmarket from the LFA. Below that is ... erm ... the Scion TC? The Toyota Supra Turbo could serve as a respectable stepping stone to the LFA, if it hadn't been discontinued a decade ago.

When it launched in 1989, the Lexus brand proved that Toyota could compete with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi for the status-conscious luxury sedan customer, but the $300-$400K market values image and dream fulfillment at least as much as transportation competence. Consider the decision tree a customer would need to follow to purchase the LFA. First, the customer would have to be ultra-wealthy enough to afford a $375K car. Secondly, the customer must be fanciful enough to spend that amount on an exotic sports car. Thirdly, that customer must also be uninterested in the cachet provided by purchasing and driving a Rolls Royce or Ferrari.

To help us look at this in a different way, I put together two $375K packages, one built around the Lexus LFA, the other around the Nissan GT-R. Which of these two packages would you prefer?

Package A ($375K):
2010 Lexus LFA ($375K)

Package B ($375K):
2010 Nissan GT-R ($85K)
2010 BMW M5 ($85K)
2008 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster (~ $100K)
1971 Chevrolet Corvette 454 ($50K - show car, numbers matching)
1973 Jaguar E-Type V-12 ($35K - perfect, numbers matching)
1949 Cadillac Series 62 ($20K)

If the LFA proves to be either a game-changing performer or a scintillatingly beautiful object of pure lust, capable of scrambling the brain waves, maybe this would be a difficult decision. But, speaking personally, I look at the LFA and see a slightly faster and uglier Nissan GT-R. I mean, what's up with the weeping taillights?

For the record, I'd probably pass on both of the packages outlined above and would instead purchase 75 $5,000 cars.

--Chris H.

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Let me suggest a third alternative. Package C consists of the 1949 Cadillac Series 62 ($20K) and seventy-one $5k cars. After experiencing the driving dynamics of a postwar super-dreadnought sedan for an extended period of time, I can assure you (from direct personal experience) that any $5k beater built after 1980 *will* feel like a supercar in comparison!

There's an old saying that money can't buy taste. I see nothing special or even exciting about this car, except that it could pass as the next-generation Nissan Z.

The first Aurora was meant to be a Saturn, but it was priced about $20,000 above the SL cars at the time. So it became an Oldsmobile with no "Olds" markings on it. This car seems about as out of place in a Lexus showroom as well.

As some cartoon dog might say, "Rotsa ruck!"

Price aside, it's a gorgeous machine. I had fun messing with the "Build Your LFA" section on the Lexus site. They've got a real wide range of color customization on there. I guess I can dream a little.

I see the LFA as a much needed image boost for Toyota. For decades now Toyota has been known for producing the most reliable, practical, and mind numbingly boring and uninspired cars. This car is all about turning that image around. And they will no doubt be able to benefit from whatever R&D and engineering that went into it. I think perhaps it should have debuted as a Toyota rather than a Lexus but I suppose if Lexus is the flagship brand then it's a good enough fit.

Another point that you failed to mention is that, from my understanding, the LFA will be limited to a run of only 500 cars. So in the same way that there's no way a 1974 white/maple Fender Stratocaster is worth $10,000, that's what they go for because there are so few.

True, production is limited to 500 cars, and history could very well decide that the LFA is a hugely rare and desirable exotic - a bit like the Toyota 2000GT has been, though at a higher level.

But if Toyota is trying to turn around the boring image, why not built a high-level sports car in more quantity and at a price range to compete somewhere in the broad range outlined by the Corvette Z06, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911, Ferrari 430, or Audi R8? A bit like where the Acura NSX was positioned when it launched. That's a car that fits better into the lineup, is at least somewhat attainable, and you might actually see on the road. In my mind, that actually could help change Toyota's image.

I'm so completely unimpressed by this car. A lexus super-car. Big deal. Like we need another ridiculous fat-assed super-car. It's like the latest sneaker from Nike. An over-styled over-blown ego project, which is only impressive in terms of the price tag. The new "super-cars" from Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini do nothing for me. I see these pompous sport-barges every day, and sometimes even have to park next to them :P

There was a time when a super-car meant something. It was a performance machine. In the old days a Ferrari was a pretty cool car. Not any more. The old ones still are but the new ones really lack any kind of appeal. The Toyota 2000GT was a thing of absolute beauty that stood apart from the other kids on the block with grace. The 2000GT came from a period of time when a super-car meant something really special, and when auto design was wildly personal and eclectic. Not so today. The LFA looks so much like so many cars that are on the road. It has to be one of the most boring super-cars I've seen.

Today the only super car company that is doing anything interesting is Lotus... The Elise, Exige, and the new Evora are about the only mainstream super-cars worth a second look. I'm particularly impressed by the 2-Eleven.

These cars are so much about status:P I want my cars to be about fun :)

I'm with those who aren't too impressed with the LFA (what does that mean anyway?). Perhaps it's because I know I could never afford such a car. I know there is no accounting for taste, but this car is about as ugly as a Nissan GTR. O.k., I'll back off of that a little bit: Neither car is heart-poundingly beautiful.

Bob: LFA = "Laugh their Friggin' A**es" off at whoever pays $400,000 for this thing LOL.

One problem with this car is that it will have had a gestation period of over a decade when it reaches limited production in December 2010. The transmission is already obsolete and the V10 engine is supposed to evoke an F1 connection with a rule formula that ended in 2005. The performance and specification are...meh. It splits the difference between a Corvette ZO6 and ZR1 in terms of weight, power and performance while costing as much as both of them plus a Z51 Convertible for sunny days and a '67 427ci/435hp Sting Ray as a hedge against depreciation. It doesn't look as nice as any of them. I respect Toyota, and their engineering could be terrific if ever unleashed, but this thing spent too much time in the oven. It is a tribute to a terrible season for car shows that the LFA is getting so much coverage. It is ancient news and it has been seen by the public for two years running competing in the 24 hours of the Nurburgring.

I look at that rear end and just think "Oh honey, your mascara is running".

it looks like a car that's over-priced by at least $325,000 if not more , or a 370Z with a really ugly body kit!!!

and dave i'm pretty sure you work for toyota to dare make comments like those.... because no matter how limited the production is, who in their right mind be able to consder a japanese a collectible.

Per Dave's comment, the lovely 2000GT was made in even fewer numbers and has had 40+ years to become more scarce and build its legend. It was featured in a James Bond movie. It was campaigned by Carrol Shelby. 2000GT values peaked at about $285K, IIRC. Will 500 new cars with no standout features be any more appealing? They really aren't faster than cheaper, better looking Corvettes. They really don't have competition success to point to. Not in F1, not in endurance racing, and certainly not from Lexus in general. The carbon fiber construction seems to be the only lasting reason for existence, and all it does is make Corvette's use of balsa, composites, and light metals look brilliant.

Supercars don't have to be rational.

It's a halo car, it not trying to outsell Ferrari, it's trying to show they can build this, and hoping to boost brand-image.

If you want pure speed why would you buy a Ferrai or Lamborghini you could get a GT-R and ZR-1 which is faster then pretty much any other car on the market. If you want looks buy a classic car that costs a fraction of the price; Miura, C1 Corvette, Stingray, etc. Or you could get a motorcycle which is faster and more exciting then any sportscar for less then $10-20k.

As a transportation device. A to B. No sports car makes sense. Wastes gas, seats two, and is incredibly expensive. The Veyron is fast on paper, but is slow on the track. Around the Nuremberg ring, a $80k GT-R is faster.

The LFA is a completely carbon-fiber CFRP body that they build from scratch, they even wove their own carbon fiber. In reality its in the vein of the Mercedes Mclaren SLR, which is also a completely CFRP car that cost a cool half-a-million. Except the LFA is 700 lbs lighter and has a 9000-rpm V10.

The fact that we are talking about it, and talking about Lexus in the same sentence as a Ferrari and Lamborghini is what the they want.

My first thought, upon seeing this monstrosity, was that someone's been pooping on the hoods of the wrong type of vehicle. My second thought was that it would be a lot cheaper to just stuff a rolled up sock down your pants. So, for my $375K (as if!) I'll take a house, a 95 Lexus SC400, a '91 Mercedes 560SEL, and a Gen2 Miata.

No...it does not make sense. Toyota created Lexus twenty years ago because it felt that it needed a specific brand cache to go against Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, etc. To pay for a more expensive Toyota would have been less than a reach than what they are trying to do now by selling a supercar by Lexus. And one that quite honestly, does not look that exotic in comparison to its competition. Kind of reminds me of VW trying to sell the Phaeton...move the brand waaayyy upmarket and sell a luxury car that looks waaayyyy too much like a Passat (and for the record, I really did like the Phaeton but I knew that it would be a disaster)

This reminds of something I read when the Subaru SVX came out:

"People that are looking for $30,000 sports coupes aren't looking at Subarus, and the kind of people that look for Subarus aren't looking for $30,000 sports coupes."

In the early '90s, that was spot on - the SVX was so wildly out of character for Subaru that it just made no sense in the immediate term. Even so, it actually paid off on the long term - if it weren't for the SVX at least opening the door a little bit to the idea of a "performance Subaru", we probably would have never seen the Impreza WRX. Sure, Subaru probably lost money on the SVX, but it learned a lot and opened some people's eyes to the idea that Subaru could make something other than ugly, cheap, underpowered 4WD wagons (i.e. what Subaru specialized in during the '80s).

If that's what Toyota is pulling with the Lexus LFA, it's actually kind of smart. Sure, nobody in their right mind is going to buy this thing, but it's a relatively inexpensive way for Toyota to say, "Hey, we can build a high-performance Lexus." Then, when Toyota comes out with sportier Lexuses in a more reasonable price range in a few years, people will be a little more willing to consider them.

Think of it this way: Would you buy a $90,000 Lexus sports car right now? Think "Dodge Viper" levels of sporty, or something like the old Acura NSX. Heck no, right? I mean, when has Lexus ever proved they can do anything like that? On the other hand, if the reviews for the LFA are positive, would you rethink that decision in a couple of years? Probably, right?

Mission accomplished.

This discussion makes me chuckle. You guys complain that Toyota is the most boring car company on the planet; then, when they come out with something interesting, you complain about it. :)

And don't heap too much praise on the vaunted GT-R. What other manufacturer gives you launch control in an $80,000 car, then voids your warranty if you use it? (It turns out that the l/c tends to destroy the transmission.)

I'm not a fan of the LFA's body-kit looks, but it's no worse than the GT-R in that department -- just different. At least it has a few flowing lines, instead of just cheap creases everywhere and a front fascia that looks like half of it fell off a few miles back.

I never meant it was as bad as a GT-R. I just don't see the point of putting it into production so long after it was designed, and so long after others have raised the bar for exotic performance.

I'm a bachelor who lives in a nice 1,327 SF 3BR/2 bath house in a safe suburb of San Antonio which has its own country club and golf course. It was built in 1970 and is a "hot rod" of a house upgraded with tile floors, real wood wall paneling, a gas grill in the back tied into the house gas lines, and many other really, really cool things. It's even on a larger than average corner lot.

I could buy THREE of these houses and still have enough left over for a 2010 Dodge RAM Quad Cab 4x4 Laramie AND the new BMW motorcycle of my choice for $375K.

I have a PayPal account if you'd like to contribute.

If Toyota wants to turn their image around, then sell exciting cars that people could actually buy. Not too long ago you could get a 4A-GE Corolla, a hot Celica hatch, a turbo Supra, or a mid-engined MR-2. There was a Toyota sports car in every price range from 10K to +50K (including Lexus). Now the entire Toyota line appears to have been designed by sleep researchers looking for the cure for insomnia.
For $375K, I'd restore a 1977 Celica GT, a 1985 Corolla GTS, a 1989 MR-Z (supercharged), a 1988 Corolla FX-16 GTS, and a 1995 Supra Turbo. Then with the change I'd buy myself a nice house in the mountains with a 5 car garage.

You're all missing the obvious reason Lexus built this. They wanted to get on Top Gear.

They're already on top gear. They bought an old worn Toyota pickup, then trashed, smashed, drowned and I think burned it. Which didn't kill it. So they put it on top of a building, then blew up the building.

Then they drove it into the studio. Brings tears to my eyes, remembering it.

No surprise that they used toyotas when racing a dogsled to the north pole. They had a convoy of 3. When the trucks were looking like a loss, clarkson yelled "I will not be beaten by dogs!" and changed from arctic expedition crawl to baja 500 'point north and floor it'.

Or you might recall the prius test final insult "And it's not even bulletproof"

Now we know what happened to the fired engineers from GM's 80's era...

Reading the post and comments, the enduring question becomes: "why, and to what end?" If Toyota can't get clear on that, this car may go the way of the Citation . . .

Chris: I feel you. I really do. I'd much rather have an R8, a GTR, and another 100 grand to spend on weird carlust worthy relics to amuse myself. Here's the thing though: I know EXACTLY why they made this. People who purchase Lexuses (Lexii?) are very well off, but for years everyone has poked fun of them for being boring, uninspired, and conservative. For DECADES, even. And how can they defend themselves? BMW, Audi, Caddy, and tons of other "upscale" marques have something remotely exciting, and some motorsport cred... but lexus? Nothing. So for years and years, these lexus owners get made fun off, without ANY way to get back, or stick up for themselves.

I'm guessing there will be at least 500 lexus owners who are fed up with getting made fun of. I'm sure they'll have no problem selling all of them. :)

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