This year will probably be referred to at Toyota's headquarters as "the Dark Ages" in the future. They have had more safety problems than a snake-filled ball pit in a McDonald's Playland, and are struggling to rebuild their reputation.
It is really sad that after years of Nurburgring spy shots, this year was the release of the first Toyota supercar. Already it seems that people are starting to forget the 552 horsepower Japanese torpedo. Let's take a little time to remind ourselves why this overpriced carbon fiber tour-de-force could be one of the most important cars of 2010.
First, there is the engine. There isn't anything that sounds massively impressive about the V-10 engine under the hood. It makes about 552 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Quit yawning, and take a look at some of the details that makes this engine so special. First, it has ten individual computer-controlled throttle bodies. It has titanium valves. The engine can go from idle to its 9,000 rpm redline in just 0.6 seconds! That is so quick they had to use a digital speedometer because a traditional one could not keep up with how fast this engine revs.
And also, you have to hear how this thing howls:
The engine isn't the only amazing thing that this car has to offer. Many of the parts of the car are made from carbon fiber, which isn't anything new. What is new is how they weaved together the carbon fiber to make the parts. They used a circular weaving machine that is only one of two in existence:
No wonder the car costs as much as it does. In fact, the price has been the main point of criticism that the automotive journalists of the world have had to throw at this car. Sure, $375,000 isn't cheap, but what exactly are you paying for? If you think of it as the absolute best that Toyota can do, which it is, then the price can make a little bit more sense. For Volkswagen's equivalent technological tour-de-force (Bugatti Veyron) you would have to pay over $1.5 million dollars. Sure, the Veyron is more car, but it doesn't sound nearly as good.
Besides, all of the LFAs have been sold. Why is this car so important then? Because this car could mark Toyota's return to the sports car world. Let's face it, their last few entries into the realm of driver's cars (MR2 Spyder, Celica GT-S) haven't been too exciting. Ever since the Supra left us, no one has really thought of Toyota and performance in the same light. However, when car makes pull stunts like the LFA, sometimes the technology they develop finds its way into cars you and I buy. The Veyron, for example, helped develop the dual-clutch technology that you can now get in a Volkswagen GTI.
So, respect the LFA. It could be the launch pad of the Toyota sports car college kids are lusting after in years to come.