2011 Lexus CT 200h Compact Premium Hybrid Coming to America
Lexus.html">Lexus has confirmed that the Lexus CT 200h compact hybrid car will be offered for sale in the United States. The Lexus CT 200h, which is projected to become available in the first quarter of 2011, will join the Lexus HS as the second hybrid vehicle built specifically for the brand – the automobile does not share its platform with any other Toyota products.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Lexus CT 200h is that it breaks new ground in the premium compact car segment by being the first full hybrid offering in this market. The four-door hatchback design shies away from the anonymous styling embraced by the Lexus HS and instead presents a much more aggressive look, with a sporty air dam, wide fender flares and attractive body-colored trim. The CT 200h is clearly targeted at young, affluent buyers who are looking to combine their desire for luxury with an eco-conscious lifestyle.
The 2011 Lexus CT 200h makes use of a 1.8 liter, four-cylinder engine that uses the more frugal Atkinson cycle to burn gasoline, as well as variable valve timing. The vehicle’s Lexus Hybrid Drive system adds two electric motors to the mix, with one dedicated to motivating the vehicle and the other tasked with keeping the vehicle’s battery charged. The second motor can also be called upon to provide extra power while driving, if needed. An electronically-controlled continuously-variable automatic transmission connects with the front wheels and performs all necessary gear shifts.
Owners of the premium compact hybrid will be able to select one of four drive modes from behind the wheel. Eco mode optimizes vehicle systems and throttle control to squeeze as many miles as possible out of a drop of fuel, while EV mode operates exclusively on battery power for silent, gasoline-free operation for distances of up to one mile. Sport mode enhances the vehicle’s steering feel and puts both electric motors to work to make available as much power as possible under the driver’s right foot. It also dials down electronic driving aides like stability and traction control so as to make them less intrusive in the driving experience. Finally, Normal mode provides a balance between fuel economy, battery use and throttle response. Details surrounding the Lexus CT 200h’s fuel economy have yet to be released.
A great deal of effort has gone into making sure that the CT 200h offers the type of driving feel that Lexus owners have come to expect from the premium brand. This includes engineering a chassis that is more rigid and sport-oriented than a typical hybrid, as well as offering a suspension system that is both responsive and insulating. A high level of comfort equipment can be found inside the compact car’s passenger compartment, with options such as a moon roof, a voice-controlled navigation system with back-up camera, leather seats and Bluetooth connectivity all available. High tech features like radar-guided cruise control are also in the cards, setting the CT 200h far apart from other compact hybrid cars.
Initially planned to be a Europe-only release, it will be interesting to see how successful Lexus will be in importing the CT 200h formula to the United States. Sales of compact four-cylinder cars continue to grow and Lexus IS poised to make a grand entrance into an area of the market that has no current luxury competitors.