Lexus LFA: Supercar for the select few

By Matt Greenop

There are only 13 Lexus LFAs in Australia, with a price tag approaching the $1 million mark, but this exclusive car is in NZ this week. Photo / Supplied
There are only 13 Lexus LFAs in Australia, with a price tag approaching the $1 million mark, but this exclusive car is in NZ this week. Photo / Supplied

Lexus' LFA supercar is in New Zealand - but it's a flying visit, and the limited-edition vehicle will not go on sale here, despite it already being offered to well-heeled Australian customers.

Across the Tasman, the high tech supercar carries a sticker price of A$750,000 ($970,000). It's one of only 13 LFAs in Australia, with a dozen sold and the deep blue example that is holidaying here belonging to Toyota.

The car's Yamaha-built all-alloy 4.8-litre V10 is an impressive engine, producing 412kW and 480Nm - enough to push its relatively light 1480kg frame to the legal limit in 3.7 seconds.

It clips the supercar ticket with a 320km/h top speed.

Toyota NZ's sales and operations manager Steve Prangnell is excited to see the LFA arrive here, but admits that actually selling the car would be a tough task. There have been two "serious inquiries" through the Giltrap-owned Lexus of Auckland dealership, but the key issue keeping the stunning machine out of our showrooms is servicing, followed by price.

"We did have the opportunity to take one or two cars when it was first announced," Prangnell said, "but due to the LFA's bespoke nature, and the price, we decided against it. It is a million-dollar car.

"With 65 per cent of the car made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastics, I don't even know how you'd repair it - it'd probably have to go to Japan."

Another issue is that only a handful of Lexus technicians worldwide are qualified to work on the LFA, and there is nobody able to do so in New Zealand.

The LFA was first announced in 2000 as a tech showpiece for Toyota's luxury division. It wasn't unveiled until its 2005 appearance as a concept in Geneva, and a more finished version in 2007.

A production-ready model was finally unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Show in 2009, and it went on sale towards the end of 2010. It became the most expensive Japanese road car in history when the Nurburgring version went on sale last year for US$445,000 ($585,000).

Its tech credentials were focused around the use of carbon fibre-reinforced polymers and other cutting edge materials and featherweight construction methods, but its reconfigurable LCD display was an instant hit. Dominated by a huge tacho, the display can be customised to suit a driver's own needs.

LFA, which stands for Lexus Future Apex, is in the country as part of a brand relaunch that Prangnell says will "celebrate it as a luxury Japanese brand".

The car will make an appearance at a media launch today of the new Lexus GS model, and underline the company's performance-focused 'F' badged vehicles.

LFA is the halo model for the brand, but there will be GS230 and GS350 F models, as well as a go-fast version of the 450 hybrid.

- NZ Herald

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