The Lexus LFA started life in 2001 as no more than a study but, via the enthusiasm of its engineers and Toyota’s commitment to R&D, it gained its own momentum. At first it was going to be aluminium, but Lexus opted for carbonfibre-reinforced plastic instead.

Then mules ran at the Nürburgring for well over five years, and prototypes competed in the 24-hour race there in 2008 and 2009. Three concepts were shown, including a roadster in 2008.

The production LFA made its debut at the Tokyo motor show last year. Lexus immediately set new standards for refinement when it launched its luxury LS saloon in 1989 and with the LFA it’s trying to rewrite the rulebook for supercars.

When Lexus (backed, of course, by Toyota) decides that it’s going to do something new, it doesn’t do things by half: the LFA is a limited-run, carbonfibre special, making the breadth of Lexus’s range quite extraordinary.

Lexus says it aimed for a weight distribution of 48 per cent front and 52 per cent rear. To this end, a 4.8-litre V10 is set as far back in the frontal engine bay as possible, with a torque tube to a rear transaxle housing the single-clutch robotised manual gearbox.

Within its skin, though, lies the real delight. Its body is carbonfibre composite (left naked beneath the bonnet and bootlid), as is the vast majority of the monocoque chassis beneath. The passenger cell is carbonfibre, as is most of the rear of the car, while 35 per cent of the body-in-white is aluminium, including the engine frame and, sensibly, the impact structures to the front and rear, offering sacrificial protection to the carbonfibre tub.

Top 5 Supercars

  • Ferrari 458
    The radical-looking, mid-engined V8 Ferrari 458 oozes supercar charm

    Ferrari 458

    1
  • McLaren 650S
    The McLaren 650S is much faster and more exciting to drive than the regular 12C

    McLaren 650S

    2
  • Is it a cut-price SLR or overpriced Merc special with fancy doors?

    Mercedes-Benz SLS

    3
  • Mid-life revisions keep the Audi R8 at the top of its game

    Audi R8

    4
  • Until the £1m One-77, the Aston Martin DBS was the British marque's halo model

    Aston Martin DBS

    5

First drives

Videos

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Lexus range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    7 July 2015
    Honda's reborn HR-V crossover offers Qashqai-rivalling interior space and practicality, but this automatic version feels outpaced
  • Car review
    6 July 2015
    Ariel's third model takes the all-terrain car to another level. It's one of the best driving experiences we've ever had
  • First Drive
    3 July 2015
    Charming four-door city car gets Smart's new six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, in a bid to make the Forfour more versatile
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    First UK drive in the latest-generation MX-5 reveals an iconic roadster that's back to its best
  • First Drive
    2 July 2015
    Extra firepower and pared-down kerb weight conjure even greater brilliance from the Boxster's chassis. Pricey – but superb to drive