The lid has been lifted on the world’s fastest cabriolet. The Lexus LF-A Roadster combines 200mph performance and wind-in-the-hair motoring.
Making its debut at the Detroit Motor Show, the newcomer is an evolution of the LF-A Coupé that first appeared at the event in 2006, and was slightly revised in 2007. The Roadster gets the same 500bhp V10 engine and hi-tech construction.
At the front, it borrows many of its body panels from the fixed-roof model, with a low snout, dramatic swept-back headlamps and massive cooling inlets set into the bumper.
There are more air intakes in the LF-A’s flanks, while the back end is decorated with hi-tech arrowhead-shaped LED tail-lights. The cabin has also been carried over from the Coupé, and is fitted with lightweight bucket seats, together with instrument dials backlit in a cool blue.
The conversion to full convertible means the rear deck now gets two individual humps behind the driver and passenger. Stowed beneath this is the canvas roof – although Lexus top brass haven’t ruled out using an electric folding hard-top for production versions of the car.
In addition, there is an adaptive rear spoiler, which rises automatically at high speed to keep the Roadster firmly glued to the road.
In an effort to give the newcomer razor-sharp handling, engineers have strengthened the carbon and aluminium chassis further. And because the powerplant is mounted between the front axle and the passenger compartment, the model will offer near-perfect weight distribution.
The low centre of gravity – the Roadster stands only 1,220mm high – combines with race-tuned suspension to ensure the car delivers a driving experience to match the likes of the Porsche 911 Turbo.
Key to the Lexus’s appeal will be its straight-line performance. The 5.0-litre V10 engine produces more than 500bhp, and this is delivered to the rear wheels through a quick-shifting semi-automatic transmission. The set-up has fully automatic and manual modes, with the latter controlled by steering wheel paddle-s.
As a result, the LF-A boasts a max-imum speed of 200mph, as well as a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds. And our spies have witnessed this potential first-hand – they caught a heavily disguised prototype (above) being put through its paces at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany.
It was recorded lapping in a time of less than eight minutes – which is similar to the fixed-head version. They also reported that the LF-A’s impressive speed is accompanied by a screaming engine note, as the highly tuned V10 revs all the way to a 9,000rpm red line.
Although Lexus has yet to give a firm date for the arrival of the first production models, the Coupé version should appear in showrooms here towards the end of this year. The LF-A Roadster is then likely to follow around 12 months later.