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Lottery for Lexus LF-A

Step right up: The Lexus LF-A will pack more than 400kW from its 5.0-litre V10.

Show us the money, Lexus tells prospective Australian LF-A supercar customers

28 Jul 2009

THREE loyal Lexus buyers in Australia have committed to buying the upcoming LF-A supercar, which will make its long-awaited production debut at the Tokyo motor show in October, before being released globally late next year.

However, Lexus Australia needs at least two more cashed-up buyers to put their money where their mouths are before the LF-A coupe, which will cost up to $750,000, can be officially confirmed for sale in Australia.

That’s because from a total worldwide production run of just 500 examples over two years, fewer than 150 will be built in right-hand drive, pitting small markets such as Australia against others in a global lottery to receive the wildest Lexus ever built.

Lexus Australia chief executive John Roca told GoAuto he needs at least five customer orders for the LF-A before Japan will commit to building the car for Australia.

“The LF-A is yet to be confirmed for us,” he said. “What they’re asking of us now is expressions on interest and what will determine whether we get it or not is firm orders.

“They’re saying anything between five and 10 might be viable for us and we’ve got to have orders in place to be able to do it. But I’m confident we’ll get the car,” said Mr Roca.

31 center image He confirmed that most will be produced as left-hand-drive vehicles for the US, Europe and the Middle East, with right-hand-drive markets such as Japan, the UK and Australia left to fight over the remainder.

He said the LHD production run could be even larger than the reported 350 units – with strong demand expected to come from emerging markets like Russia and China.

“Then what they’ll do is have a lottery for the rest of the world,” said Mr Roca, adding that the price of the first supercar to emerge from Toyota’s luxury division will be anywhere between $500,000 and $750,000.

“Where saying to them (potential customers) if we get the car, be prepared to pay anything up to three-quarters of a million dollars – and they’re saying ‘well, bring it on’.” We understand that two of the Sydney-based LF-A customers are long-time customers of the Japanese brand who have owned more than 10 Lexus models each.

“For the guys who have been with Lexus since day one, they are wealthier and older and it will be a bargain at that price,” said Mr Roca. “There are only going to be 500 of them globally and the fact just 500 will be built will be a big factor.

“What they’re telling us is give us the some specification, some information and, more importantly, a delivery time, because to these guys price is less important than when they can get the car. They want to know when, not how much,” he said.

Lexus Australia is considering taking prospective LF-A customers to the Tokyo show for its official unveiling – but only if the car can be confirmed for Australia first.

“There has been so much talk about it that people wondered whether it was ever going to happen,” said Mr Roca. “We want to confirm we’ll get the car before they get too excited.” The rear-drive LF-A will be Toyota Motor Corporation’s first sportscar since the demise of the Supra, MR2 and Celica, and is expected to be shown in Tokyo alongside a new sports model based on Subaru’s all-wheel-drive Impreza platform, complete with turbocharged boxer engine.

It has been shown in various concept guises since its debut at the 2005 Detroit motor show, including the roadster version that also appeared at the Melbourne motor show in February.

Like the all-new Mercedes-AMG SLS super-coupe, which will debut at Frankfurt alongside the replacement for Ferrari’s entry-level F430 coupe, it has survived the global financial crisis and Toyota’s first financial loss – and will enter production only as a hardtop coupe.

Unlike the SLS, which will be produced eventually in hybrid form following the initial 6.2-litre V8 model, the LF-A is likely to be a one-off, powered only by a 5.0-litre V10 petrol engine producing more than 400kW – not a 4.8-litre V10 as widely reported. It will therefore be one of the few Lexus models not to be available with a hybrid drive option.

“I reckon it will be a one-off,” said Mr Roca. “I think you’ll see 500 LF-As, then you won’t see LF-A again. There’s no talk of a hybrid LF-A.” Front-end revisions to the familiar concept are believed to have extracted a 350km/h top speed from the LF-A, which should match the performance of the fastest and most expensive supercars, including the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 and Pagani Zonda F.

Standard equipment is expected to run to a six-speed sequential automatic transmission, six-piston callipers with carbon-ceramic brake rotors, titanium mufflers and run-flat Bridgestone tyres.

Pre-production race-spec LF-As have competed in the previous two Nurburgring 24-hour races in Germany, with new Toyota president Akio Toyoda, who is the grandson of the company’s founder and is believed to have been central to the project’s official approval, driving one to 87th place in this year’s gruelling race.

“It will get up and go, I know that. It’s a supercar – there’s no doubt,” Mr Roca said.

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