First Look

First Look: 2011 Lexus LFA

We all know that Lexus is the upscale brand of Toyota and has more luxurious features and extremely larger price tags. Some people wouldn't be caught dead in a Toyota, but will happily drive a Lexus to their country club. But those same drivers lack one important thing: passion. Lexus vehicles, along with Toyotas, lack any sort of pure driving spirit, with the exception of the Lexus IS series and the long gone Toyota Supra.

More than 10 years ago, Toyota realized that this lack of passion was no longer acceptable. With competitors such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Infiniti building more high performance cars, Toyota began developing something so incredible, it had to have the Lexus name to verify its exclusivity. Their answer: The Lexus LFA. Make no mistake about it, this is truly a supercar through and through. Based on the success of the Nissan GT-R, Lexus wants a piece of the growing Japanese exotic market. The LFA offers Ferrari and pretty much every supercar maker some serious competition.

Let's just look at the numbers: Zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds Top speed: 202 mph Engine: DOHC 40-valve V-10, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection Estimated Price: $350,000 It truly begins an entirely new market for Toyota in the supercar business. While the rumors have been going around for some time about Lexus releasing the car, nobody took them seriously. Toyota has always been a conservative automaker and it was a risk to move into this niche market in the first place, so offering it as sale only makes sense.

However, in order to keep the buzz going in the auto business today, any smart automaker knows they must experiment in new markets. As Toyota watched Nissan release its GT-R (and sold out units), the time had come to make something happen and speed up their almost decade long project. Toyota head Akio Toyoda, himself an auto enthusiast, is the one behind this. The company his grandfather started needs, in his exact words, "more drivers cars." This makes sense as Lexus has been further developing their F series sport sedans.

With their success, Toyota obviously felt confident it could take it up a notch. Actually, several notches. This is going to be very exciting to watch as another well established automaker develops and builds on its own a legitimate supercar that, on paper, seems capable of taking on the Italian stallions from Italy. Lexus is about to enter some new territory and, at the same time, hopes to shake up the business. So will this be the end of the Corolla as we know it? Never. That car, along with almost everything else in the Toyota and Lexus lineup, are major money makers.

But when you've got the money, resources, and leadership passion to advance a project like the LFA, you make it happen. The new Lexus LFA is truly a remarkable machine in every dimension. Not only does it make a scene in the supercar market, but it's also a clear sign that Toyota is about to inject some adrenaline into their other cars. If Akio Toyoda has his way, that's exactly what will be happening.

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