What is it?
A 200mph Lexus designed to compete with the most exclusive supercars on the planet. The LFA isn't based on any existing model either; nearly every component is unique to the two-door, two-seat coupé. Under the long bonnet - but mounted behind the front axle - is a hand-built 4.8-litre V10 engine that produces 552bhp at an incredible 8,700rpm. That helps explain the top speed (actually claimed to be 202mph) and the 0-62mph sprint time of just 3.7 seconds.
Helping the driver keep up is a newly developed automated manual gearbox, which controls the clutch actuation when the driver changes gear with the tactile steering column mounted paddles. The speed of the shift can be altered in seven steps to suit the driver's preference or the road conditions, while there are four driving modes too, including 'Wet' and 'Sport' for track use.
Lexus purposely kept the dimensions of the LFA compact in a bid to reduce weight and maintain agility. The downside is a lack of much luggage space and a cosy cockpit. There is plenty of room for the two occupants of course and though the LFA is not as luxurious as most Lexus models its cabin is notably well put together and brimming over with carbon fibre.
The use of this exotic material is not confined to the gorgeous flat-bottomed steering wheel either, as an incredible 65 percent of the 'body in white' is made of the stuff and Lexus is particularly proud of its new 'mass production' techniques developed in house, which should allow more widespread use of carbon fibre in other cars in the future.
Is it any good?
It's fantastic in a word. Well, it's fantastic to drive anyway, in a way that compares very favourably with some of the most extreme drivers' cars on sale. That's actually a little surprising. We were expecting it to be huge fun (which it is), but in a Jekyll and Hyde kind of way with a suitably Lexus-like luxury car alter ego. As beautifully made and trimmed as it is, the LFA could never be accused of being luxurious.
Instead, it showcases its abilities best on a race track. That's not to say it's no good on the public road, but its limits are so high and the incredible performance of the engine means it doesn't take very long to reach the speed limit, at which point the LFA feels like it's barely trying. On a decent track however it engages the driver from the off. The low-set driving position and tactile controls ensure you feel part of the car and its compact dimensions mean it doesn't feel intimidating to drive quickly. As you'd hope for a car that spent so much of its development time on the Nürburgring test track, it is hugely competent, yet importantly it also incredibly enjoyable.
Our only reservation is that the LFA isn't as good at regular speeds as it ought to be, so is it intended as an occasional trackday toy for the wealthy?
Should I call the bank manager?
If you're the sort of buyer that often spends £300,000 or so on his cars then it's likely that you're pretty good pals with the bank manager and perhaps even the bank owner. This car is not intended to be a mass-market product. Lexus has confirmed that just 500 examples will be made and you can be sure that every one of those buyers will get the full red carpet treatment - even more so than the famed Lexus customer service already offered. The Lexus showroom in Park Lane in London will house the only demonstration LFA in Europe and owners get to customise their car in detail before it is hand assembled in Japan. Comparisons to similar performing machines are pointless, as we believe that potential buyers have the means to buy whichever they prefer, regardless of logic or value for money.
A 200mph Lexus supercar is shocking enough, but one that costs a little more than £300,000 is outrageous. There's no doubting its formidable talent as a driver's car, though it should be noted that it sacrifices some of the Lexus hallmarks for that. Whether supercar buyers are ready to welcome a new player to the party remains to be seen. The order book is open now. Tokyo Motor Show: