Toyota and Subaru at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show: what to expect

With January 2011′s Detroit Auto Show relegated to history and next week’s Chicago Auto Show expected to reveal little news except for the Lexus Five Axis Project CT 200h Concept, we look forward to March and the Geneva (Switzerland) Auto Show, which should be more compelling in terms of new model debuts.

The big news, of course, is the debut of the final concept versions of the “Toyobaru twins” before the expected debut of the production versions at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Show in December. The much-discussed and anticipated collaboration between Toyota and Subaru on a (hopefully) lightweight rear-wheel-drive Subaru-powered sports coupe will see a second, presumably closer-to-reality Toyota FT86 II as well as Subaru’s first concept preview, the lengthily-titled Subaru Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car Technology Concept.

Now, via a Toyota Europe press release comes word on the rest of Toyota’s agenda at Geneva. Given the 3rd-generation Toyota Vitz (Japan’s Yaris counterpart, and Toyota’s largest-selling model in Europe via its assembly in Valenciennes, France) debut last December, something Yaris-related was certainly to be expected. Toyota has now confirmed the Toyota Yaris HSD Concept that “anticipates Toyota’s intention to bring full hybrid technology to the B segment, the biggest volume segment in Europe… Incorporating several hybrid-specific styling cues, the Yaris HSD concept introduces a new, forward-looking design execution”. Expect this “concept”, then, to be a barely-disguised version of the upcoming French-built 3rd-generation Yaris and its Yaris HSD variant. That Yaris HSD, by the way, may well be Europe’s sole Toyota B-segment hybrid, since some British pundits rightfully predict that the production version of Detroit’s smaller Prius c concept will not be sold in the Old Continent because the current strong yen/weak Euro exchange would make importing Prius c from Japan a money-losing proposition.

The third officially-announced Toyota debut is no real surprise, either. The Toyota Prius+ is essentially the larger Prius v that debuted last month in Detroit with the third-row +2 seat it deserved all along. As such, Toyota Europe proudly notes that “The Prius+ is the first car to offer European customers the versatility of 7 seats combined with a full hybrid powertrain (and) the lowest fuel consumption of any 7-seat MPV on the market”. As to why the third row is unavailable in North America, we can only guess that our general intolerance of vehicles with sub-10 second 0-60 mph acceleration times is at least partly to blame, as that third seat may add another hundred or two pounds to the curb weight and burden its 1.8-liter hybrid powertrain.

As to Subaru, in addition to the Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car Concept, it will mark the European debuts of the Subaru Impreza Design Concept that first appeared at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2010 and is hailed as a predictor for the next-generation Impreza due around the 2013 model year; and of the Subaru Trezia, a rebadged Toyota Ractis/Verso S that marks a rare export outing for one of the many small Japanese Domestic Market front-wheel-drive Subarus that are, in reality, renamed Toyotas and Daihatsus. The Euro Subaru Trezia even shares the Toyota Verso S choice of 1.3-liter gasoline or 1.4-liter turbo diesel engines.

VIDEOS: Coming to America – The Lexus LFA

IMG_1737.JPGNow that the first six LFAs have landed in the United States, Lexus has released a series of videos which highlight the special arrival of the LFA. We covered this story exclusively just a few weeks ago.  The first video is of the de-vanning process of the LFA from the shipping container. The second video is of Mark Templin, Vice President and General Manager of Lexus USA welcoming the new LFA owners to the Lexus family. Third video is of Paul Williamsen, National Manager of the Lexus College doing an overview of features on the Pearl Yellow LFA. The last video was filmed at the newest mega Lexus dealer in the United States, Lexus of Escondido, located in northern San Diego County. Details are everything and we know Lexus is very attentive in the smallest details. Take a look at the videos below:


A Superior Journey: Transporting the LFA:


A Warm Welcome to LFA Owners:


LFA Product Highlights:

Courtesy of Lexus USA

Five Axis CT 200h Concept coming to Chicago!

Troy Sumitomo is no stranger to making concept cars a reality. As the man with the plan at Five Axis, he’s responsible for building many Lexus concept cars including the Five Axis Concept IS F, GS F-Sport, IS F-Sport Sedan, Convertible, and of course the Yellow Lexus LF-Ch Concept that eventually gave birth to the CT 200h. Just last year in Las Vegas at the SEMA Show 2010, Five Axis was commissioned to put together a CT F-Sport concept car featuring F-Sport goods for the upcoming premium compact hybrid hatch. Just this morning, Lexus teased us with a rendering of whats to arrive in the Windy City. Despite the current blizzard conditions hampering Chicago, we expect the Five Axis CT Concept to bring some heat to the Lexus display at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. If you’re looking for some warmth, come down to the Chicago Auto Show!

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Source: Lexus

FT86 II Concept to be unveiled at Geneva!

Just about a month from now, we will get a chance to see the latest interpretation of the Toyota FT86 concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show 2011. Entitled the FT86 II, Toyota Motor Europe gives us a sneak peak at whats to come. The teaser pic shows us a familiar FT86 concept but with a little more muscle. Most notable are the larger, more defined headlamps and the very angular but raked nose. Also the fender lines are much more squared off at the sides which allow the FT to gain a more aggressive look. The FT86 II almost looks like an eagle ready to pounce on its prey. We are anxiously awaiting for the FT to arrive as we are ready to put “Fun” and “Toyota” back in the same sentence again. Here in the United States, we have a little bit of a dilemma as we aren’t sure if this will be branded a Toyota or rebadged as a Scion. Only time will tell.

Here is a photo of the FT86 concept I took at the Paris Motor Show 2010:
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Teaser FT 86 II photo courtesy of TME.

EXCLUSIVE: LFAs arrive in the USA. The Sexy Six (PART 2)

Just a few days ago, we were able to witness the meticulous process of de-vanning the first Lexus supercar. After the week-long journey in their individual containers, there are now six production LFAs officially on U.S. soil. We reported to you last Tuesday about the first three of six vehicles that have arrived. Since this is the first year of Lexus LFA production, we are only limited to seeing them in the 10 standard exterior colors. We should start seeing special order colors arrive by the end of this year or very early next year.

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Since the LFA is customizable in many different ways, every one of the 500 LFAs ordered will be unique. Along with the 30 different exterior (10 standard, 20 special) colors, you get 3 wheel color choices and 6 different wheel caliper color options. On the inside it gets a bit more complex. Aside from just choosing a simple interior color which normally gets packaged with certain trim and accent colors, you have a total of 11 different interior trim options to configure to your liking. Your options include color selections for the steering wheel, door grips, the seat front, seat back, stitching, headliner, carpet, floormats, the instrument panel, door panel, center console and lastly the metal trim finish. All LFAs come standard with an upper dash panel with Black leather and special “Lexus” embossed fasteners which accent the whole dash. Leather or Alcantara surfaces are optional on the seat front, instrument panel, door panel and center console surfaces.

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Aside from the plethora of interior combinations, there are three main configuration packages for the US Spec LFA:

  • Configuration I: Leather or Alcantara seats and trim in three standard colors
  • Configuration II: Configuration I plus Navigation & Mark Levinson
  • Configuration III: Configuration II plus Lexus Enform with Safety Connect which provides Destination Assist, eDestination, Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location and Enhanced Roadside Assistance.

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All six of these LFAs have at least Configuration II which include a hard disk based Navigation system and the Mark Levinson Premium Audio package. Now what supercar has an in-dash 6 disc CD/DVD changer, the capability of playing DVDs on a high resolution 7″ screen, capable of playing surround sound through 12 speakers, several options to connect your portable audio device (including wireless Bluetooth Audio A2DP) or even have the capability of viewing live traffic conditions, weather, sports scores or your stock portfolio underneath your fingertips via the Remote Touch controller? There’s only one,  the Lexus LFA!

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So far, the only LFA we have seen that is almost identical to one of the early prototypes is LFA #006 in Whitest White (079) with red w/black leather interior, Red brake calipers and Dark Premium Graphite wheels. The other LFAs are in configurations we have never seen before. All 6 of these LFAs do share one thing in common: they all have Red brake calipers! Here are “The Sexy Six” LFAs in ascending order:

LFA #003

  • Metallic Silver (1F2)
  • Light Premium Metallic Wheels
  • Red Calipers
  • Red Leather Steering Wheel, Red Leather Door Grips
  • Red Leather Seat Front, Black Leather Seat Back
  • Red Stitching
  • Black Headliner
  • Red Carpet
  • Black Floormats
  • Black Instrument Panel, Door Panel and Center Console
  • Blackish-Brown Metal Trim Finish

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LFA #004

  • Whitest White (079)
  • Buff Polish Wheels
  • Red Calipers
  • Red Leather Steering Wheel, Red Leather Door Grips
  • Red Leather Seat Front, Black Leather Seat Back
  • Red Stitching
  • Black Headliner
  • Black Carpet
  • Black Floormats
  • Black Instrument Panel, Door Panel and Center Console
  • Blackish-Brown Metal Trim Finish

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LFA #005

  • Pearl Gray (1G0)
  • Light Premium Metallic Wheels
  • Red Calipers
  • Red Leather Steering Wheel, Red Leather Door Grips
  • Red Leather Seat Front, Black Leather Seat Back
  • Black Stitching
  • Black Headliner
  • Black Carpet
  • Red Floormats
  • Red Instrument Panel, Door Panel and Center Console
  • Blackish-Brown Metal Trim Finish

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LFA #006

  • Whitest White (079)
  • Dark Premium Metallic Wheels
  • Red Calipers
  • Red Leather Steering Wheel, Red Leather Door Grips
  • Red Leather Seat Front, Black Leather Seat Back
  • Red Stitching
  • Black Headliner
  • Red Carpet
  • Red Floormats
  • Black Instrument Panel, Door Panel and Center Console
  • Blackish-Brown Metal Trim Finish

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LFA #009

  • Black (212)
  • Light Premium Metallic Wheels
  • Red Calipers
  • Red Leather Steering Wheel, Red Leather Door Grips
  • Red Leather Seat Front, Black Leather Seat Back
  • Black Stitching
  • Black Headliner
  • Black Carpet
  • Black Floormats
  • Red Instrument Panel, Door Panel and Center Console
  • Blackish-Brown Metal Trim Finish

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LFA #026

  • Black (212)
  • Buff Polish Wheels
  • Red Calipers
  • Black Leather Steering Wheel, Black Leather Door Grips
  • Black Alcantara Seat Front, White Leather Seat Back
  • Black Stitching
  • Black Headliner
  • Black Carpet
  • Black Floormats
  • Black Instrument Panel, Door Panel and Center Console
  • Silver Metal Trim Finish

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Because this is not your typical new Lexus, there are many more checklists the LFA must go through at port processing. Part 3 will highlight these details including more photos of the new LFA arrivals!

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Return to: EXCLUSIVE: The first three production LFAs arrive in the USA (Part 1)

Club Lexus: LFA Discussion

EXCLUSIVE: The first three production LFAs arrive in the USA. (PART 1)


IMG_1656.JPGIt’s been 10 years in the making, but January 18, 2011 was a momentous day for Lexus. This was the day that the first three (of 500) production LFAs arrived on United States soil. It was just a few weeks ago in Japan that Lexus celebrated a milestone with the first production LFA to roll off the assembly line. It was only a matter of time, but now the USA has its first LFA units ready to be delivered to their anxious owners.

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The De-vanning of the LFA

Because the LFA is a special car, it requires special delivery. Instead of loading this special Lexus on a regular vehicle ship, all LFAs bound for the USA will arrive in its own shipping container. Once the container arrives at the port and goes through U.S. Customs, Lexus delivers the container to their special facility for the LFA to be de-vanned (unboxed). Once at their facility, special trained technicians will pull the the LFA out of the container. The LFA is transported on a specially-built pallet inside the container. Once the container is backed into the dock, the car is pulled out. This is how they do it:

The technicians unbolt the pallet from the container floor and remove the wooden chocks that secure it.IMG_1653.JPG

Once the pallet is unsecured, a forklift is used to pull the unit out.
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The LFA is fully removed from container.IMG_1664.JPG

The wheel guides are unbolted and the wheel straps are removed.
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Once the car is free, the technician takes a soft white cloth and drapes it over the quarter panel and driver’s side entry to protect the LFA’s lustrous paint finish.
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The hatch is opened and the battery is connected.
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The technicians do a final inspection check and they start the car up for the first time.IMG_1730.JPG

The LFA is carefully backed off the special built pallet.
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Now the LFA is carefully driven to the awaiting transporter. IMG_1783.JPG

The LFA is loaded up into the truck.
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The LFA is driven in.IMG_1797.JPG

And now its secured.
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The LFA is ready to be delivered.
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Once the LFA arrives at its final destination, the selected Lexus dealership will perform the final pre-delivery inspection and deliver the LFA to its new owner.

Because the LFA is a global car, each LFA will be delivered in the order it was sold. Surpisingly, the first three LFAs that have arrived are destined for outside of California!

What we know:

  • #001 – Red (3P0) Exterior, Black (?) Interior  - Japan
  • #003 – Metallic Silver (1F2) Exterior, Red Interior – USA
  • #006 – Whitest White (079), Red Interior – USA
  • #026  - Black (212), Black Interior – USA

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LFA in the USA Fun Facts:

  • Each LFAs are tested and driven by a Motomatchi Quality Control Engineer to ensure the highest quality compliance. A certificate is placed in each car with the engineer’s signature.
  • Each LFA ships in its own clean container with a pink painted metal pallet designed specifically to secure the car during transport.
  • Each LFA pallet is sent back to Japan after use to transport the next shipment of cars. 5 can be stacked at one time.
  • The LFA is not covered in exterior plastic during transport. This is to ensure proper paint curing from the time it leaves the Motomachi Plant to its final destination.
  • It takes about 7-10 days (weather permitting) for an LFA to ship from the port in Japan to the Port of Long Beach.
  • All US bound LFAs will only go through Toyota’s facilities at the Port of Long Beach for de-vanning of the shipping container.
  • Each LFA will be delivered by a special Lexus transporter to the new owner’s preferred Lexus dealer.
  • This is the only Lexus or Toyota product that is delivered in this manner.
  • LFA10 is the chassis code for the Lexus LFA. LFA10L is the designation for left hand drive models.
  • Mobil 1 5w50 is the official oil for the Lexus LFA.

I was fortunate to take plenty of photos and video of the Silver, Whitest White and Black LFAs that have recently arrived. More photos and video to come in the next few days. Stay tuned. :)

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Club Lexus: LFA Discussion

Special thanks to Lexus USA and Toyota Logistics Services for inviting us to this remarkable and historic event!

Video Update: 1-14-11 – Spotted Yellow LFA in Orange County

Here is a video of the Pearl Yellow LFA roaming the streets of Orange County, California this past Friday afternoon. We’ve heard plenty of sound clips of the LFA in full flight, downshift, upshift, idle, revving and more. What about regular city and freeway driving? You have to give it to Yamaha for making the LFA sound amazing on the inside, outside and all around. The LFA sounds amazing even with the windows rolled up in the 2011 Lexus IS F chase car we were in.

It’s obvious that 1LR-GUE 4.8L v10 can sing, but what about the horn? Toyota has many different horn sounds including the distinct single and dual “Japanese sounding” beep. Thankfully, the LFA doesn’t have that generic AAMCO commercial-sounding horn that has been common in Lexus cars as of late. With all these video clips of the LFA, no one has really talked about the horn. I’ve always wanted to capture this, and I finally had an opportunity to do so. With all the meticulous detail work that went into the conception of the LFA, you have to wonder if Yamaha had any part in tuning the horns. Check out the video of the Pearl Yellow LFA roaming around the streets of sunny and warm Southern California.

Here is the link to the TEASER video I posted earlier. There are going to be a lot more posts in the next day or so, including my 2011 Detroit Auto Show coverage, Akio Toyoda’s surprise visit and, of course, more LFA news! Stay tuned, there’s more to come…