A $700,000 champion drive

AT a staggering $700,000 the Lexus LFA would be the second most expensive sports car available in Australia.

“Would be” because only 10 from a limited edition of 500 units were earmarked for Australia and they have already been snapped up, leaving the Lamborghini Aventador 6.5 LP700-4 the only sports car available here if you need to part with $761,500.

Local Lexus owners and car buffs had the opportunity to pour over one of these exotic supercars on display at Lexus of Wodonga and yesterday Australia’s 1980 F1 world champion and Lexus LFA ambassador Alan Jones dropped into the Melbourne Road dealership for a chat and to sign autographs.

Jones’ role as LFA — and other F-badged Lexus — ambassador is to offer new owners one-on-one tuition at a local race track, but as the closest circuit to Albury-Wodonga is Winton Motor Raceway, it was more a leisurely drive around the district.

Jones, while taking in the scenery, had his sights firmly fixed on me, seeing that I drove this 412kW/480Nm V10-engined missile to his exacting standards.

Jones is the son of 1959 Australian Grand Prix winner Stan Jones who was a regular competitor at the defunct Hume Weir Racing Circuit.

Over a career spanning 11 years, Alan Jones won 12 grand prixs from 116 starts, with his last F1 race start at the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1986. He won the Australian Grand Prix at Calder Park in 1980.

“Dad and I both competed at Hume Weir; I drove a Mini 850 there and we are the only father-son combination to have won the Australian Grand Prix,” Jones said.

Jones has not been idle since retiring from full-time driving, farming a property at Glenburn in the Yarra Valley and now doing corporate functions and drive days with Lexus.

And so to our drive.

The LFA’s V10 engine, coupled to a rear-mounted, six-speed automated sequential gearbox, can propel the supercar to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds and revs from idle to a redline of 9000rpm in 0.6 seconds.

The car has a top speed of 325km/h and consumes 16.7 litres of premium unleaded on the combined cycle.

The carbon fibre-aluminium shell cocoons two in relative comfort and there is a surprising amount of room in the cockpit.

Despite the car’s raw edge, it is surprisingly tractable and comfortable, but tread on its tail and it barks into life, pushing you back into the seat and emitting a Formula One-like scream from the centrally mounted exhausts.

It goes hard, handles as if on rails and it brakes brilliantly.

My Friday afternoon “jaunt” in the country driving one of the world’s rarest production cars with a world champion by my side could not have got any better.