Lexus is set to launch a five-door compact hatchback at September’s Frankfurt motor show.

Although Lexus won’t officially confirm as much yet, Autocar can reveal the concept that’s a close match for the car it’ll offer up against BMW’s 1-series and Audi’s A3 in 2010.

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Company insiders suggest that the car was signed off late last year, largely at the behest of European execs who insisted that the Europe’s premium C-segment was an area of the market “too lucrative not to be in”.

Our sources won’t divulge the car’s name - although rumours suggest that both ‘BS’ and ‘CS’ are in the frame. They will say that the car will be a petrol-electric hybrid-only model, like the firm’s RX SUV, so a fleet-focussed diesel model isn’t too likely.

As such, the new compact Lexus is likely to use the same powertrain as the US-market-only HS250h – a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that, with the help of an electric motor, produces 187bhp.

Like the HS it’ll also be front-wheel drive, but it won’t use the same platform as the bigger HS.

“The Frankfurt concept is called C-Premium,” our source advised. It’s a 90 per cent match for the real thing, which we’ll see at Geneva next year. It should be on sale in the UK by Autumn 2010.”

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