At the opening of the Tokyo Motor Show, October 21, Toyota threw out their decades-old playbook that emphasized efficiency and reasonable pricing and unveiled their groundbreaking 2012 Lexus LF-A, Japan's first-ever supercar.
Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Corvette, Lotus -- you can name all the ultra high-end sports vehicles in the auto industry and none of these cars hail from Japan, home of the Camry, Corolla, Civic and other family-oriented models.
But the Lexus LF-A is finally ready for production after nine years in development. Just 500 units of the most powerful and most expensive car Toyota has ever produced will be available worldwide.
The car offers 560 horsepower, a top speed of 202 miles per hour (325 kilometers per hour), your choice of 12 shades of leather and a price tag of over €255,000.
The car utilizes seat belt airbags, Toyota's latest technological development that display such excellent sense it's hard to imagine they won't become commonplace in the future. The seat belt inflates during a crash, spreading and thus reducing the resulting impact over a broader section of a passenger's body.
It has always been surprising that no hand-made, super-luxe, über-fast cars were ever produced by Japan, considering their wealth of automotive success and resources. The Honda NSX has the looks but only half the horsepower of the LF-A, while the Nissan GT-R has the oomph but its staid styling just doesn't turn heads at stoplights.
A car which goes way too fast, costs way too much and burns way too much gas from Japan? It looks like the recession is turning out to be a crazy time for the auto industry.