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First look: Lexus goes hard-core sports

Super-coupe: LF-A concept represents changes in direction for Lexus, both in terms of style and performance.

Toyota's luxury arm Lexus delivers a super-coupe concept to stun Porsche

20 Jan 2005

LEXUS has stunned the automotive world by entering the super-performance league with a 320km/h hyper-coupe concept to rival the likes of Porsche’s iconic 911 Turbo.

Unveiled at last week's Detroit motor show, the two-seater LF-A sports car concept marks a significant change in direction for the Toyota-owned brand, which has so far specialised in luxury cars including the compact IS, mid-sized ES and GS and large LS sedans, the SC coupe/convertible, and RX and LX SUVs.

Totally unlike them, LF-A is claimed to combine the performance of an exotic sports car with the luxury of Lexus.

Though engine specifications remain unknown, Lexus says the concept employs an engine capable of 500 horsepower from a displacement of less than five litres – putting LF-A in a hallowed automotive segment dominated by the likes of BMW’s M5 sedan and Lamborgini’s Gallardo supercar.

Further, Lexus claims a combination of optimum gearing, weight and aerodynamics would allow the LF-A concept to produce a top speed "in the neighbourhood of 200 miles per hour (322km/h)".

However, while LF-A is Toyota’s take on the hi-po supercar, Lexus says it was conceived to signal a new styling direction for the brand globally - one that adheres to themes like simplicity, elegance and the avoidance of exaggeration "by prioritizing understated luxury that is intriguing, subtle and seamless - and slightly surprising".

Designed to herald a "bold new direction in styling" for Lexus and to link with parent company Toyota’s Formula One activity, LF-A is said to be a "clear indication of the path that Lexus' global design will follow in the near future".

According to Lexus, which makes no bones about its potential competition, at 4400mm long LF-A is about 125mm shorter overall than a 911 Turbo (despite having a 175mm-longer wheelbase at 2580mm), about the same height as Ferrari’s F430 at 1220mm, and somewhere between the Mercedes-Benz SL55 and Aston Martin DB9 for width (1860mm). It rides on 245/40 (front) and 285/35 (rear) 19-inch tyres.

31 center image The company says it represents a fundamental shift in both its style and design and takes an entirely different approach to proportion and packaging. LF-A is claimed to achieve the ultimate weight balance by redefining and condensing the sizing and positioning of major components.

"The Lexus LF-A is like no sports car we have ever built - or even imagined," said Toyota Motor sales executive vice president and COO Jim Press. "Currently only a concept, it is a realistic vision of how we might address the boundaries that define the exotic sports car landscape.

"The LF-A is theoretically developed to run a parallel course to our company's efforts in Formula One racing. It would probably feature a powertrain and drivetrain configuration strongly influenced by whatever is being used in competition at the time," he said.

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