Lexus is proclaiming its new $350,000 LFA model, which can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and hit speeds as fast as 202 mph, a "two-seat supercar."
But potential buyers interested in owning the sports car will need to do more than just come up with the cash: they'll need to be individually approved by Lexus. The brand, which plans to manufacture just 500 of the cars at a rate of twenty per month, is requiring prospective buyers to submit to a kind of coolness background check before being "approved" to buy the vehicle.
Lexus says applicants will be assessed based on their location, the other cars they own, and, above all, their driving habits. One Lexus manager indicated that the Toyota brand's chief concern is that the car be driven frequently, and in the "right" kinds of places. He told the
"We want people who will drive the car, who will be seen in the car," said Paul Williamson, national manager at Lexus College, Toyota's dealer training school. "We want it to be seen on the right roads, in front of the right restaurants and not just being enjoyed by one individual in their private garage."
But more than anything, the LFA approval process appears to be an effort to enhance the brand's exclusivity -- and establish it as a competitor with the most distinguished brands in luxury high-performance cars like Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari.
As The Big Money's Matthew DeBord, who saw the car at the L.A. Auto Show last December, put it: "Take that, Ferrari! Ka-pow, Lamborghini! Not just anybody can buy an LFA, the greatest Toyota [ever] created by humans on Earth."
Check out DeBord's video of the Lexus "supercar":