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Spy shot: Green light for Lexus supercar?

It’s decision time for Toyota’s top brass: will they give Lexus’s supercar the green light?

The pressure is on, because the project is so public. Prototypes are a common sight at the Nürburgring test track, and Lexus unveiled a study styling – the LF-A concept – almost a year ago.

Then, in October, its proposed engine was revealed in all its glory at the Fuji Speedway circuit in Japan. The LF-A blasted down the home straight, its piercing shriek clearly betraying a V10 powerplant.

The 5.0-litre engine is being rigorously benchtested, and sources confirm it’s producing more than 500bhp. The engine is mounted in the nose, with a Magnetti Marelli paddleshift transmission channeling grunt to the rear tyres.

Unlike Ferrari’s F430, the LF-A is front engined to ensure it adheres to the Lexus creed of accommodating golf bags in the boot. But otherwise its capabilities should be up there with the Ferrari’s: a top speed in excess of 200mph and 0-62mph in around four seconds.

Such acceleration is possible thanks to a chassis made of hi-tech, lightweight materials such as carbonfibre. The target is a 50:50 weight distribution front:rear. A hybrid powertrain has been ruled out due to weight implications.

Our spyshot reveals a form very close to the LF-A concept car’s: long nose, a square rear end that drops like a cliff face, and tear drop glasshouse. The concept’s nose was a supercar take on the new IS saloon’s, but sources say the front needs updating to add more aggression and drama. There’s no need to change the surfacing, though: the clinically clean body looks very futuristic.

So will they build it? The final decision will be announced in 2006, perhaps as early as next month’s Detroit Auto Show. Expect a yes, with the supercar hitting the market in 2007 – probably with a UK price tag close to £100,000.

Chassis

Carbonfibre chassis and body to keep weight down. Layout is front engine and rear drive.

Engine

Engine is a 5.0-litre V10, kicking out more than 500bhp. That matches BMW’s new M5 unit.

Looks

Futuristic look revealed by LF-A. Designers are said to be adding more aggression up front.



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