The Lexus LFA represents one of those exceedingly rare opportunities for enthusiasts to watch a car company reinvent itself. And it’s no coincidence that the project that drives the reinvention is a supercar. A supercar incorporating nearly everything the car company knows, but more importantly driving the development of new technologies and showcasing what the engineers are truly capable of, not what they are limited to.
There are a few other examples in the industry where supercars led the way. Some might consider the Viper one of these, and while the car has certainly earned legendary status, the engineering and build quality of the original car was just one step above that of a good kit car. Another might be the Corvette, but this has been a regular production model for over 50 years and only rarely shows what the company is truly capable of. The ZR1 and Z06 packages certainly highly the engineering capability, but the Cavalier-quality interior and terrible ergonomics show the reality of the budget. Perhaps the upcoming C7 will highlight the true capabilities of the engineers (and the management team driving them)? And then there is the Ford GT, with noble intents and a storied history, that ended up shaming the company from engineering failures and contributed to the downfall of SVT as an independent unit and most likely contributed to the premature demise of its leader OJ Coletti.
But back to Lexus, and the limited production LFA. Better than just being a hero of the Nurburgring (both in lap times and during the years of its participation in 24 hour endurance races there as part of the development process), perhaps even more intriguing is which technologies will appear in regular production Lexus products. Certainly the carbon fiber manufacturing process will. Perhaps the V-10 engine will appear in a limited production sports sedan – although Lexus suggests it is highly unlikely. Only time will tell… time after the rest of the company under the able leadership of Akio Toyoda, President and CIO of Toyota, comes up to full speed. Hopeful signs abound, such as the upcoming Toyota 86 (aka the production FT-86, weighing in at perhaps2600 pounds and with as much as 200 HP and 150 torque on a very lightweight and low-CG chassis) and discussion of a new Supra and MR-2. And hopefully they will not forget the money-making volume cars: the new Camry is particularly boring and doesn’t stand out in its segment.
So while Toyota shows great potential, there is much more work to be done.
One Word: fabulous!
Toyota President Akio Toyoda, nicknamed “The Price”, and the grandson of the founder, is an accomplished engineer and sports car enthusiast. He was responsible for creating the Lexus LFA and pushing it thru the system. He drove an LFA prototype in two 24 hour endurance races at the Nurburgring.
But is he up to running one of the largest car companies in the world? Does he have the skill sets needed to lead the company thru the recall crisis? This is not just a matter of engineering, or new products – this crisis is about leadership before it can even begin to address any of Toyota’s other problems.
Read more in this article in MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35479683/ns/business-autos/
Now that he has (finally) agreed to testify before the U.S. Congress this coming week, we’ll have the opportunity to see if he has the necessary authority and spokesman-ship skills. He’ll be speaking thru a translator, which will make the session more difficult. And, no doubt, he’ll be stuck listening to the political grandstanding these types of congressional sessions are infamous for (you’ll remember the bailout hearings last year, with all kinds of nutjobs tooting their own horns… and very little serious business conducted).
This crisis has been a long time in the making: we knew that Toyota has slid into dull and indistinct products over the past several years. With almost nothing for the enthusiast (and the famous brands MR-2, Celica, and Supra long dead) and milquetoast cars for other buyers. Nobody suspected that engineering had also deteriorated so far. That’s going to be the bigger challenge for Toyoda to solve in the long run - turning around engineering and product development.
For the enthusiast, the first step in the rivaval of Toyta means bringing the FT-86 prototype to market - preferably as the new Celica. And not just as a weak-knee’d 200-HP naturally aspirtated model. We’re expecting to get the full benefit of the Subaru partnership it the form of a 300 HP turbocharged 2 liter engine. This won’t be a mainstream Toyota, but it will be available to everyone and it wil bring some much-needed interest to the showroom.
Is this the best sounding exotic car – or is the LFA?
I’ll have to vote for the LFA. This new Ferrari sounds like it has an open exhaust – not well tuned. The LFA sounds like an F1 car.
Your decide. The LFA in-car is in an earlier post this month here: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?p=2796
560 HP at 8700 RPM. Unbelievable – this is even more significant than the GT-R. We’re only hours from it’s debut at the Tokyo show. We can’t wait!
Listen to that engine!
It’s very clear that Toyota is back and that another legend is in the making.
The full open throttle says it all: the LF-A is “savage”!
And, interestingly, the white car is apparently a full production-dress LF-A. Note the differences from the flat-black prototype we’ve seen so many times before.
And remember, when in Nurburgring, hang out at the gas station. This is where you’ll be able to get up close and personal to all the good stuff. And it’s where test drivers like to show off their engines!
Lexis is running the LF-A prototype at the 24 hour event to gather test data before an introduction of the car into production in ~2010.
This will be interesting to watch – the car is already doing 7:24 in development laps at the track, bettering the Porsche GT-2 and matching the Nissan GT-R. Note how the car is painted flat black to keep prying eyes away from the details… few of the technical details of the car are known at this early point other than that it is powered by a V-10 engine mounted in the front.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this one over the weekend. Kudos to Lexus engineers for having the confidence in their work to run a development prototype in a tough race like this! A conventional manufacturer might chose to enter a car after a year of production… Lexus is clearly not a conventional car company!
A completely unconfirmed rumor in the web this past week claimed that the car would retail for $225,000 US when it debuts. If true, that would take it well away from the GT-R in market competition, leaving it above Aston Martin territory and in Ferrari territory.