Lexus has promised its CT200h hybrid hatch will be fun to drive and is on track for a 2011 launch

Lexus has tailored its new CT200h hybrid hatchback specifically for European customers and has promised it will be a “sporty” car to drive.

Lexus, which has released these development photos of the car that will form the centrepiece of its Paris motor show stand next month, is currently carrying final dynamic testing of the CT200h on European roads to ensure “it will put a smile on the face of the driver”.

See the pics of the Lexus CT200h in development

Lateral performance dampers have been fitted to the CT200h as part of a fundamental reappraisal of its chassis and bodyshell design. These dampers, a first for a high-volume production car according to Lexus, increase torsional rigidity, suppress vibrations and boost ride comfort and steering feel without adding extra weight.

Lexus has set itself the target of making the CT200h “a benchmark for handling in this segment”. As well as the lateral performance dampers, it is aiming to achieve this by optimising aerodynamics, steering, suspension and the driver’s position at the wheel to help make the front-drive CT200h a credible dynamic rival for the best-selling Audi A3 and BMW 1-series models in the lucrative premium hatchback segment.

Read more on the Lexus CT200h, plus see exclusive pics and video

The Lexus CT200h, which is on track for a UK launch in early 2011 priced from around £21,000, uses a tuned version of the Toyota Prius’s 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain and CVT gearbox.

As in the Prius, three distinct driving modes are offered (Eco, Normal and Sport) although these have all been retuned in the CT200h to make it a bespoke Lexus car.

In Dynamic mode, the MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension firm up and steering and throttle responses are sharpened to boost the CT200h’s agility and road holding. The CT200h’s electric motor and nickel hydride battery pack help propel the car up to 1.24 miles on electric power alone, helping the CT200h reach its target of offering class-leading CO2 emissions of less than 99g/km.

The firm is expecting the car to shift around 30,000 units per year to double Lexus's business in Europe.

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Our Verdict

Lexus CT
The CT200h is Lexus’s first compact model

The Lexus CT200h is an appealing luxury hybrid hatch that’s spoiled by misjudged chassis settings

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Comments
14

11 August 2010

[quote Autocar]promised it will be a “sporty” car to drive.
[/quote]

Its not a bad looking car, but can anyone else think of a car which can be described as 'sporty' that has a cvt box? I think they have their work cut out.

11 August 2010

+ 1 on the CVT

DCT were they are Toyota, have you heard about?

still, against the 1 series & A3, 30 000 units will be a drop in the ocean.

11 August 2010

I agree that you can't have any kind of sporty, or even a refined, drive with a CVT transmission. I especially do not understand why all hybrid cars have to have a CVT transimission including even the biggest Lexus.

Please can someone tell me why it's like this ? I guess fuel economy has something to do with it but why would anyone spending circa £80,000 on a new big hybrid Lexus be satisfied with a CVT.

I think only BMW, so far, have integrated a conventional ZF with their hybrid X6.

11 August 2010

funny thing is that the Hybrid Porsche Cayenne makes use of Toyota-owned Aisin automatic gearboxes.

but AC claims that the driving experience is annoying (don`t remember the proper definition)

11 August 2010

[quote Harry MK10]I especially do not understand why all hybrid cars have to have a CVT transimission including even the biggest Lexus.[/quote]

Honda make the CR-Z and offered the previous Civic Hybrid and original Insight with a Manual box.

I agree an £80k car should not have a CVT

11 August 2010

[quote Harry MK10]or even a refined, drive with a CVT transmission[/quote] Refined is exactly what CVTs are. Have you ever driven one? because comments like this just suggest that you have not and are talking from a position of ignorance. They provide smooth and steady accelaration from standstill to top speed with none of the usual jerks and hesitations that accompany most automatics. They offer an infinite number of gear ratios and are thus never in the wrong gear for the speed or loading. You need to try one before condemning out of hand.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

11 August 2010

Can CVT be sporty? - Please try a Lexus GS 450h

Why CVT? - Because Toyota and Lexus are full hybrid - i.e can run in EV mode with petrol engine fully stopped.

Is it CVT? - yes, but nothing like an old Daf. It's a mechanically very simple, very reliable planetary gear set that allows the electric motor to run at various speeds, including in reverse (when it acts as a generator) seamlessly and smoothly.

11 August 2010

[quote ordinary bloke]Have you ever driven one? because comments like this just suggest that you have not and are talking from a position of ignorance.[/quote]

Well actually, YES I have used one. My wife had an Audi A4 Cabriolet with their so called MULTITRONIC version of a CVT which had all kinds of problems including many strange noises, jerkiness & over revving. It's quite well known that Audi have problems with this system & tried to "design out" the inherant problems of CVT with complex electronics. Audi had to replace it FOC. Then we immediately swapped it for a similar car, but not an Audi, with 6 speed auto which runs like a dream. CVT = Refinement ? Absolutely not.

We'd be quite interested in a hybrid but only if it had a proper automatic transmission.

11 August 2010

[quote ordinary bloke][quote Harry MK10]or even a refined, drive with a CVT transmission[/quote] Refined is exactly what CVTs are. Have you ever driven one? because comments like this just suggest that you have not and are talking from a position of ignorance. They provide smooth and steady accelaration from standstill to top speed with none of the usual jerks and hesitations that accompany most automatics. They offer an infinite number of gear ratios and are thus never in the wrong gear for the speed or loading. You need to try one before condemning out of hand.[/quote]

Yes, I've tried one and hated it too. Mini Cooper automatic. Made the car feel breathless the whole time with its overrevving. Horrible.

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