A third of LF-A production is US-bound
As Lexus in the US focuses on finding buyers for the biggest slice of global LF-A production, the prospect of the car's awesome 552bhp V10 finding its way into a new super-saloon remains a tantalising prospect.
Chatting to senior Lexus sources 'off the record' at the Detroit motor show confirmed there's a strong desire to produce a new super-saloon that could take on the likes of Mercedes AMG and BMW M cars. Formal plans are unlikely to be formulated until the LF-A project has been declared a success by Toyota's notoriously conservative management in Tokyo, but there's already a head of steam building up in both the US and Japan.
The LF-A in cutaway format
"It's not a straightforward job, because although the V10 is very compact its dry sump design means you have to find space under the bonnet for the oil tank," said one insider. "That said, we do have two large sedans where the engine could possibly be made to fit."
The LF-A uses a carbon fibre torque tube to send its power to a rear transaxle, but such an exotic set-up wouldn't be necessary in a saloon car installation.
"We've already got a transmission that can handle the engine, in the shape of the 8-speed auto fitted to the IS-F. With its torque converter lock-up it would work very well in a car like this," we were told.
It would seem that the next-generation GS is the most likely recipient for the V10, as this model already has mildly 'sporting' genes and competes in the showrooms against the BMW 5-series and Merc E-class.
"We'd need to be able to do a run of 5000 to 10,000 cars to make it feasible, and it wouldn't be cheap. But with the LF-A we're just starting to introduce very high performance as a Lexus brand value, so it's natural that we will be looking at ways to develop this in future," confirmed our informant.
Meanwhile, in spite of the $375k (£232k) price tag, Lexus in the US seems confident that it will find buyers for the 160-odd LF-A supercars it needs to shift, although it's coy about the actual numbers.
"We already have two or three times the number of hand-raisers we expected and, as we've only just been able to confirm the invoice price, we're about to find out how hard we'll need to work on getting orders confirmed over the next couple of months," they say.
As in other markets, Lexus in the US has to overcome potential resistance to a price well above that which was originally indicated when the LF-A was first mooted as a Porsche 911 rival back in the early 'noughties'.
"The decision to switch from all aluminium construction to all carbon fibre four years ago took cost to another level, but at that time the development team realised performance was moving so fast they couldn't meet their goals without doing it," said our man.
That decision is largely responsible for the LF-A's extended gestation, but the waiting still goes on for those lucky enough to be able to afford the car. Lexus is still a year away from first production, and will build the planned 500 cars at a rate of 20 per month.