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Lexus supercar survives

Silver bullet: Lexus first showed the LF-A as a concept in 2005 but this near-production version appeared at the Tokyo show 14 months ago.

Cost-cutting Toyota presses ahead with its V10-engined Lexus LF-A coupe

31 Dec 2008

TOYOTA may be suffering badly under the weight of the global recession, but that will not stop the Japanese car-maker’s luxury brand Lexus from pressing ahead with its scheduled LF-A supercar.

With development nearing completion and series production due to commence in 2009, Toyota is not inclined to follow the lead of Honda, which recently axed its plans to build a new-generation NSX.

The decision to press ahead with the 375kW LF-A was revealed at a press conference held by Toyota in Japan to confirm its commitment – albeit with reduced budgets – to its underperforming Formula One program.

Toyota has reportedly axed or delayed a number of programs as it addresses the shock of an impending financial year loss of more than $2.5 billion, which will be the car-making giant’s first ever operating loss.

A British magazine has reported that a planned successor to the Toyota Supra, which the company announced earlier this year as a Toyota-Subaru joint development, has been delayed 18 months and will not appear now until at least 2012.

Lexus has already revealed the LF-A – the coupe first appearing four years ago at the Detroit auto show while the roadster debuted at the same show 12 months ago – and the company even raced the car in the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany a few months ago.

According to reports from Europe, a number of race-spec LF-As will be produced in 2009 before road-going versions are released, probably some time in 2010.

However, production numbers may be limited and the future of the roadster version may be clouded.

The front-engined two-seater will be powered by a normally-aspirated 5.0-litre V10 engine driving the rear wheels and has been developed as a rival to the Porsche 911 and Nissan GT-R, but the engineers have had a hard time reaching the required performance targets.

Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said in Nagoya that the company would not be following Honda out of Formula One and would also remain in other forms of motor sport, but would be cutting costs to deal with the global sales slowdown.

“The change in the world economy is of a magnitude that comes once every hundred years,” said the embattled Toyota boss.

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