Show's supercar star to race on

That the peak performer of a Lexus road show touring the country has been hit by a recall won’t cause performance anxiety.


BEING drawn into an airbag recall that has swept the car industry won’t keep a Lexus supercar from giving brand fans high speed thrill rides on the country’s premier racing circuits over the next few weeks.

Lexus New Zealand has confirmed the LFA – an ultra-special performance V10 coupe that rates as Japan’s fastest, most exotic and most expensive production cars – it has brought into the country for a promotion tied with the national summer motor-racing series has been implicated in Takata’s worldwide airbag fault scandal.

Yet though the car on loan from an unidentified country in Asia does require an airbag change, a job that the brand estimates will take two days, the matter is not considered problematic enough to warrant pulling the car – so the show will go on.

“The Takata recall affects many brands and vehicles across the world and is a precautionary measure on the LFA. As such it doesn't affect the use of the Lexus LFA,” says Morgan Dilks, spokesman for Toyota and Lexus New Zealand.

“The airbags will be replaced at the earliest opportunity after the car returns to its home base in Asia.”

Notification of the LFA’s recall was poor timing since it came just as the ‘summer of performance’ promotion kicked off at Ruapuna circuit, outside of Christchurch, last weekend.

The car, which cost around $750,000 as new but whose value now appears to put at above $1 million, next appears at Teretonga, Invercargill, where the summer series continues.

Further appearances are at Hampton Downs in the Waikato, the Bruce McLaren circuit near Taupo then, finally, at the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild, Feilding.

Capable of more than 250kmh and intoxicating cornering speeds, the sleek mainly carbon fibre model is not being raced – though were that to happen, it would be quicker than almost all cars on the track save perhaps the Toyota Racing Series’ single-seaters.

The demo ride duty does nonetheless provide opportunity to see a former New Zealand Grand Prix winner turned professional racing driver at work. Nick Cassidy now races for Lexus in Japan with considerable success and is thought be among favoured candidates for Toyota’s world endurance racing squad should it return to Le Mans this year.

This is the second successive year Lexus NZ has used an LFA as a drawcard. The car’s inclusion is intriguing as the model was never sold new here and has been out of production for several years. However, it still stands as the most impressive car Toyota’s premier league producer makes, far more honed than the LC500 coupe that arrives here later this year.

The LFA is not the sole Lexus blighted by the seemingly never-ending Takata saga. The latest notification also draws in IS luxury mid-size sedans. Lexus NZ has still to announce how many examples of that car will be pulled in for redress, but overseas’ reports say it will involve F, 250C, 250 and 350 variants.

The recall addresses a flaw found in the front passenger airbag inflators that might leave safety systems compromised by the intrusion of moisture. This could lead to a rupture in the device, which then has potential to create small, metallic projectile fragments in the event of collision, raising the risk of occupant injury.

No reported accidents or injuries have occurred a result of the fault. The remedial work is less complex for an IS than for the LFA, with Lexus estimating a repair time of several hours at most. However it has indicated that the work will not be immediate, due to a worldwide shortage of replacement parts.

Worldwide, the total number of recalls due to faulty Takata airbag equipment as reached around 100 million vehicles, with affected brands including Toyota, Mitsubishi and BMW.

Takata issues are not the only problems facing the car world. In the past week, Subaru, Land Rover, Citroen, Volvo and General Motors have also undertaken recalls for faults associated concerning safety and defective manufacturing. 

Subaru Japan has issued a recall for certain turbocharged vehicles – namely the Legacy GT built between 2007 and 2009, WRX and STI variants from 2009-2014, and Forester XT models made from 2009-2012 – over a potential fault in the secondary air pump relay.

If the relay proves to be faulty, it can cause the secondary air pump to engage continuously and overheat, posing a potential fire risk.

Jaguar Land Rover has declared that its Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque models sold between March 31 and August 25 contain an incorrectly assembled right hand lower control arm to knuckle joint in the front suspension.

If the front right wheel is exposed to a jarring impact such as hitting a kerb or a deep pothole, it could cause the front suspension to fail, leading to loss of control of the vehicle.

Citroen has recalled its C4 small hatchback after discovering the wishbone bolts in the front suspension may not be to the correct specification.

Affecting vehicles sold between November 2014 and January 2015, it may cause the bolts to break, which would lead to diminished steering control. 

Volvo has recalled a number of models over a fault that causes airbags to improperly inflate in the event of an accident, affecting a number of model year 2017 vehicles including the S60, V60 Cross Country, XC60, V40, V40 Cross Country and XC90.