Currently reading: Lexus to launch Vantage-rivalling V8 supercar with up to 600bhp
Supercar - likely called LFR - will be made to homologate Toyota GT3 racer; is expected to weigh around 1300kg

Lexus is set to launch a new V8-engined supercar as a rival to the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG GT and a spiritual successor to the legendary LFA.

Parent company Toyota’s hardcore GT3 GR concept car, revealed in 2022, has now evolved into a prototype that has been spotted running at Spa-Francorchamps, and its Gazoo Racing motorsport division is expected to have it ready for top-flight competition – including the Le Mans 24 Hours – in 2026.

FIA homologation rules dictate that any GT3 racer shares its basic body design with a related road car, so a toned-down version of the GT3 GR is expected in showrooms within the next two years.

Toyota has previously said that it would continue “commercialising motorsports cars rather than simply adapting production vehicles for use in motorsports”, as it did with the rally-honed GR Yaris hot hatchback.

The road-going GT3 GR is likely to wear a Lexus badge, rather than a Toyota one, in keeping with the premium brand’s history of large-engined sports cars, including the LFA, LC 500 and RC F.

The prototype’s soundtrack is unmistakably that of a highly strung V8 (which reportedly breathes through two turbos) and the road car – possibly called LFR – is expected to share that unit but with the addition of hybrid assistance.

No specifications of the racer have yet been released, but the GT3 regulations are relatively flexible, with cars producing roughly 500-600bhp and weighing no more than 1300kg. Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Lamborghini, Lexus, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche all currently sell GT3 customer cars.

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Toyota recently announced – alongside allies Mazda and Subaru – plans to “revolutionise” the packaging of the internal combustion engine, doubling down on its belief that ICE technology will continue to play a role for cars in the future, despite the wider global shift to electric cars.

Toyota has long been vocal about the potential for sports cars in particular to benefit from continued ICE development, investing heavily in sustainable fuel development and even partnering with Yamaha to create a hydrogen-compatible 5.0-litre V8 – which could be deployed in the new sports car.

Gazoo Racing boss Masahito Watanabe recently told Autocar that Toyota is pursuing a “multi-pathway” approach for sports cars, rather than investing in all-out electrification. “We still think the internal combustion engine has some potential, and as we do so, we will of course be trying to comply with all the applicable rules according to the regions in each country,” he said.

“But we don’t want to give up. It’s not over just yet, because if you look at the internal combustion engine, there’s still hydrogen combustion that can be a part of that zero-emission line-up. So I think that’s going to continue.”

Lexus has retired its RC and LC coupés in Europe and hasn’t officially commented on plans for any replacements, although the outlandish Electrified Sport concept that it revealed in 2021 emphasises its continued commitment to performance cars.

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That concept – which is due to reach production by the end of the decade – is electric, rather than V8-powered, but has been confirmed to share its carbonfibre monocoque underpinnings with Toyota’s GR GT3 concept and has a similar cab-rearward silhouette, which suggests the possibility for Lexus to offer two closely related supercars – based on the same chassis but using totally different powertrains – within the next five years

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: Deputy editor

Felix is Autocar's deputy editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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jason_recliner 20 June 2024

As good as Lexus is (they're probably the best engineered mass-produced passenger vehicles), this isn't going to weigh under 1,300kg :-( 

johnfaganwilliams 17 June 2024

So what was the Lexus LMGT3 V8 running at Le Mans yesterday? Just asking.