Breaking the Price Barrier

August, 2010 (Bloomberg Markets) -- The new Lexus LFA stretches the Toyota line to the limit.

The latest Lexus model starts at $375,000. Toyota Motor Corp., the same company that brings you the 51-mile-per-gallon Prius and the $13,000 Yaris, will also be producing the Lexus LFA, a 202-mile-per-hour, gasoline-evaporating supercar that competes with the $320,000 Ferrari 599 GTB. Talk about a broad family tree.

I consider this as I walk around one of three drivable LFA prototypes in the world, which is sitting on a racetrack in southern New Jersey. The other two are in Japan and Europe. Until now, the $109,000 LS 600h L “executive sedan” hybrid was the most expensive Lexus.

The LFA is no hybrid. It has beefy carbon-ceramic brakes, swollen performance tires and a 552-horsepower V-10 engine that will propel it to 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour) in less than four seconds.

The LFA is a so-called halo car, designed to showcase the company’s hottest designs and highest performance standards. Only 500 LFAs will be built during a two-year run, with production scheduled to start in December. About 175 will be sold in the U.S.

Behind the wheel, steering is precise if a bit light, and on my first lap around the track, I swing out too wide and rumble onto the extreme edge of a curb. Yet the LFA is beautifully weighted, a dancer on the balls of its feet, swiveling easily into tight corners. By the eighth lap, I feel comfortable.

The new Lexus brings excitement to the Toyota line--if only for a very few customers. Prius and Yaris, meet your new brother. Family dinners are going to be more interesting.

Jason H. Harper is in New York at

#<535521.2245115.># -0- Jul/07/2010 13:49 GMT

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.