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Lexus LF-A to hit 220mph

23 Jun 2009

Lexus supercar to get a new, more aerodynamic nose and an enzo-rivalling top speed

Lexus has pulled the wool over our eyes for long enough, but now the truth is out: the roadgoing version of its LF-A supercar will get a brand new nose treatment – and with it will come a blistering new top speed of 220mph.

A source close to Toyota’s luxury brand has confirmed that these images reveal what the production Lexus LF-A will look like when the covers finally come off this October. As you can see, the front end of Japan’s fastest and most expensive road car ever will be very different to what we’ve seen so far on the concept, prototype and racing versions of the LF-A over the past few years.

We will reserve judgment on whether the revised headlights and grille are an improvement on the current nose until we see the new car in the flesh. However, while initial impressions may be that Lexus has taken a step backwards in terms of inspired styling, there does seem to be method in the madness: Toyota wanted more speed, so modifications to the exterior aerodynamics were crucial. One source inside the company told us over 18 months ago that the development team was not happy with the car’s top speed of 320kph (199mph) and had returned to the workshop for further fine-tuning. Now, after strategic revisions to the car’s aerodynamics and minor adjustments to its V10 engine, it seems that the R&D team has finally found the extra legs.

Our source close to Toyota disclosed that the LF-A’s front-mid-mounted 550bhp-plus 4.8-litre V10 is now capable of propelling the car to ‘over 352kph’ (219mph). The engine is also expected to pump out a beefy 405lb ft of torque, which will be available from as low as 2000rpm, with power transmitted to the rear wheels via a rear-mounted transaxle incorporating a six-speed Aishin automated-manual transmission, or ASG (Automated Sequential Gearbox) in Toyota-speak.

The changes mean that the LF-A’s top speed will be nearly 30mph higher than that of its closest rival back home, the Nissan GT-R, and on a par with the likes of the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 and Pagani Zonda F.

evo has also learned that the production LF-A’s performance features closely mirror those of the £100,000-plus Spec V derivative of the GT-R (see issue 130). In addition to huge, fade-resistant carbon-ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers, there’s also a titanium exhaust silencer, thin, carbonfibre-backed race-style seats and run-flat Bridgestone Potenza tyres. The LF-A also packs a launch control system.

Unlike the Nissan, the Lexus gets a throttle on each of its engine’s cylinder banks for swifter response and can also shut down half of the cylinders when the car is cruising at slower speeds in inner-city mode, helping to improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions. It also promises (in a wonderful example of ‘Janglish’) a ‘sound exciter exhaust’, which is specially designed to enhance the exhaust note inside the car.

The LF-A uses a steel and aluminium chassis with lightweight carbonfibre and aluminium body parts. The specialised nature of its construction means that the car will be a limited-edition model of 500 cars, all made to order at Lexus’s Tahara plant in Japan. That number includes an even more hardcore ‘sports package’ version boasting a wider body and beefed-up aero parts similar to those seen on the race version at the Nürburgring. And speaking of the Green Hell, if the racer’s lap time of 7min 13sec is anything to go by then we can expect a blistering time from the production model too.

With the car’s main markets expected to be the US, Europe and the Middle East, one rumour surfaced recently that Toyota bosses had still not decided where to reveal the LF-A, and that both the Tokyo and Frankfurt shows were being considered. However, our source has confirmed that Lexus will reveal the car at the Tokyo motor show in October and then display it at all the major international car shows over the following months to drum up further interest and find more potential buyers.

With a small but steady stream of orders expected, Toyota will begin its production run of 10-15 handmade units per month in November 2010. The base model LF-A is expected to cost between £130,000 and £150,000, while the top-of-the-line, full-spec sports package version will clear £180,000. Whether a car bearing the Lexus badge has the kudos and brand image to demand such a high sticker price and compete with the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, only time will tell.

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