Quick road­ster money can’t buy

The red Lexus is a show car only, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE glam­our puss of this year’s Mel­bourne Mo­tor Show is an enigma. The Lexus LF-A road­ster could be the car of the fu­ture, or a car with no fu­ture. The LF su­per­car pro­gram has been run­ning for al­most three years and is a head­liner for the Toy­ota group, but has yet to pro­duce a pro­duc­tion car.

There have been coupe and con­vert­ible show cars, and a hard­top LF-A painted in flat­black cam­ou­flage com­peted at the Nur­bur­gring 24-Hour race in Ger­many last year, but there is still noth­ing def­i­nite for show­rooms.

But that has not stopped Lexus Aus­tralia from land­ing the sig­nal-red LF-A road­ster as its show star for Mel­bourne.

‘‘This car shows us what we are ca­pa­ble of do­ing as a brand,’’ Lexus Aus­tralia head John Roca says. ‘‘It shows we are not boxed into a vanilla fu­ture that has only hy­brid cars as a point of dif­fer­ence. It shows we can be, and will be, a lot more di­verse than we are to­day.’’

The LF-A road­ster’s light­weight body uses a com­bi­na­tion of alu­minium and car­bon fi­bre, and the car rolls on 20-inch al­loy wheels.

It has a 5.0-litre V10 en­gine, tucked just ahead of the two passenger seats but well be­hind the front axle-line. It is rear-wheel drive.

Lexus has given few de­tails of the con­vert­ible roof, ex­cept that the ba­sic body is as rigid as the coupe. And that it will have the same 320km/h top speed.

Peo­ple at the show won’t be able to buy the road­ster, or even put down a de­posit, but Roca be­lieves the LF-A project will pro­duce a gen­uine pro­duc­tion car some time next year.

‘‘I think the car has a fu­ture. We’re get­ting closer to ‘when’, ahead of ‘if’, but we still don’t know when that time will be,’’ he says.

‘‘But the show car is real. It has a V10 en­gine that makes all the right noises. The stats we’re get­ting show the car will hit 300km/h, and that was one of the tar­gets.’’

Roca says the global eco­nomic down­turn will not af­fect plans for the LF-A, de­spite its po­ten­tial im­pact on high-priced lux­ury cars.

Other new stuff will be on the Lexus stand in Mel­bourne. The lat­est RX will make its first ap­pear­ance in Aus­tralia, and the lux­ury SUV will be dis­played as a reg­u­lar petrol model and a hy­brid.

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