A supercar tragedy: what went wrong with the Lexus LFA?
Lexus had it all right, then it all went wrong. But why was the LFA the polar opposite of a success story?
It's the car that springs to the minds of many teenagers when the Lexus brand is talked about. It also boasts an unmatched exhaust note that adds to the instantly recognisable aura that this particular Lexus holds to its name, but what led to the sudden death of such an uncharacteristically legendary supercar?
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Development of the LFA commenced almost two decades ago in the early 2000s, under the code name TXS. Having taken several years for Lexus to reach a production worthy model, Lexus simply could not afford to waste any more time on a car that didn't fit the typical offspring of the luxury brand.
The harsh reality of so much time and money being spent on the development and creation process of the LFA left Toyota with an expectation that any hope of a profit from the LFA campaign would be out of the window, which unfortunately later became true.
After years of anticipation, Lexus unveiled the production model of the LFA at the 2009 Toyko Motor Show, with high hopes of its effort to get its foot in the door of the supercar market. This was anything but the case. Production lasted just two years from 2010 to 2012 for what was one of the most expensive Japanese production cars of all time.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Planted guilt-free with a V10 engine capable of producing 553hp that was developed in collaboration with Yamaha and kitted out with some of the best technology 2010 had to offer, the LFA conformed to the perceptions of any supercar at the time - and a 202 mph top speed verified this. The best part was that you wouldn't even need to be able to see the car to appreciate its presence - an other-worldly exhaust note would be responsible for any jaw replacements down the line. Even Toyota describes the sound similar to the 'roar of an angel', whatever that means.
Perfectly balanced on paper with 65% of the vehicle's total body mass constructed from carbon fibre-reinforced polymers and matched with such respectable performance figures, the LFA being able to possess the supermodel looks of any supercar added to the admiration.
But with crushed ambitions of a vision that was supposed to see the the creation of the LFA as a new-found icon of the Lexus brand, Toyota had no choice but to accept defeat for letting the LFA off the chain and into the wild, in the territory of other predators such as Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini.
It's hard to imagine that such an undeniably cool car to come from the loins of Lexus couldn't hold its ground for long - but there simply weren't enough buyers. The company failed to secure sales targets, which is most likely attributed to an extortionate initial retail price.
It probably didn't help that Lexus operated a selective buyer scheme for ownership of the LFA (in other words Lexus would pick their buyers) - and this was also in midst of Lexus producing a maximum number of 20 models a month until production ceased.
Lexus LFA at the Goodwood Festival of Speed | Credit: Ollie Funnell
By the end of its production run, a mere 500 examples of the LFA (which includes the Nürburgring Package edition, accounting for 64 of the 500 cars) were officially produced, and they have become more and more sought after as the years go on. Hammer prices at auction for LFA's vary - obviously dependent upon mileage, condition and spec to name a few, but expect to pay in excess of £400,000 in today's market.
Not all hope is lost, however. Judging by Akio Toyoda's historical contributions to Toyota, every 20 years will be the opportunity of a new supercar from the brand to emerge. The 60s saw the arrival of the legendary 2000GT, the 80s welcomed the Supra, and the 2000's witnessed the birth of the LFA. So by this basic algorithm, who knows what will come next...
What do you think of the LFA? Tell me in the comments!
| Ollie Funnell | Student Journalist, Coventry University
| Twitter: funnelloo