The US$465,000 Lexus LFA Nurburgring – the most expensive Japanese car ever

Lexus' LFA supercar is, or was, the most exclusive vehicle ever built by the world's largest automobile manufacturer – only 500 of the exotic carbon fiber 200 mph V10s will be sold at US$375,000 apiece. Now the racetrack-focused "LFA Nürburgring Package" is set to be revealed.

Only 50 such 562 bhp vehicles will be produced with revised aerodynamics and technical refinements designed to fine-tune the exotic two-seat sports coupe to be capable of lapping the fabled Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit under 7:20. Now the average Gomer needs more than just a wad of cash, industrial-sized gonads and a sweet handling, brutally powerful car to get around the "Green Hell" inside eight minutes, let alone seven twenty, so the price includes special instruction sessions on the circuit into the bargain. The car can be had in white, orange or black at US$445,000 or in and matte black for US$465, 000, making it the most expensive Japanese road car ever.

The price also includes a nights accommodation at the circuit, a special jacket which will signify the wearer as one of the 50 to have lived the experience, and a one-year pass to the circuit so you can work on your lap times.

The Nürburgring Package LFA will be displayed in public for the first time at the Geneva motor show a fortnight from now and as there will only be 50 sold, may we suggest you contact your Lexus dealer right now if you want one.

If your perspective on Japanese sports cars is that they won't cut it compared to the best the Germans, Italians and British have to offer, THINK AGAIN. Nissan's GTR has already demonstrated that Japanese cars can do the business without a premium price tag, though it isn't Lexus' intention to subsidise the buying price too much.

Rumor has it that the decade long development campaign could not possibly be amortized effectively across just 500 cars and no matter how they juggle the numbers, each LFA cost a lot more to develop and build than the mere US$375,000 you're being asked to part with.

In time such as this, it's really only possible to think of the LFA as a frightfully expensive promotional exercise designed to build some brand value in the elite sporting category.

There is no doubt that Lexus could charge more for the vehicle – it's aim is to have the 500 cars all out there, all being driven, all with identical purchase pricing, and with an ownership experience second to none.

It's strange, but the LFA's raw numbers don't do it justice. It only has 552 bhp standard, and weighs in at over 1500 kg, so it's not a vehicle you'd immediately think would be a racetrack weapon in standard trim. The chief engineer on the project, Haruhiko Tanahashi mentioned during the release at the Nürburgring in Germany last year that the LFA had lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in "better than 7 minutes 20 seconds."

This was not a mere passing remark. Toyota (aka Lexus) had no sportscar heritage to rely upon when, a decade ago, it set out to develop a car deep inside Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin territory. As the sportiest car Toyota had ever produced was the Supra, it had no real experience in the supercar area and hence began from scratch, purchasing benchmark cars from the logical competitors (Porsche and Ferrari among them) and plotting what it needed to do to produce something capable of making enthusiasts take notice.

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