TOKYO -- Lexus' 552-hp V-10 halo car, the LFA sports coupe, drives into the sunset at an awkward time for the luxury brand.
During the LFA's two-year production run, which ended Dec. 14, it was positioned as the ultimate expression of Lexus quality and performance -- and carried a $375,000 sticker to match. The limited edition of 500 hand-built units sold out even before production began in December 2010.
But as Lexus struggles to reinvent itself as an emotional, pulse-pumping brand, the lineup loses the head-turning speed demon that spurred the image makeover in the first place.
Lexus executives concede they need a new halo.
"If we want to build a more emotional brand, then we need a halo car," Lexus Executive Vice President Kazuo Ohara said in a Dec. 17 interview. "We would like to have that sort of car."
But don't expect another rarefied supercar -- at least not with the same stratospheric price point. In the post-LFA era, Lexus has different ideas for generating youthful excitement from the traditionally staid premium marque.
And a big part of that means winning oohs and aahs from nonhalo cars that are within the reach of mere mortals -- cars that can actually be spotted on city streets, not simply preserved in climate-controlled garages by uberrich collectors.