Lexus will unveil a new Prius-based hybrid hatch at the Detroit motor show
1 August 2008

Lexus will launch a small Prius-based hybrid hatch at next January’s Detroit motorshow, Autocar has learnt from sources in Japan.

The new model is known internally as SAI but will be renamed before it goes on sale and will be based on the next generation Prius, also being shown for the first time in Detroit. The Lexus though will be a plusher, more comfort orientated model with unique and sleeker styling.

According to company sources it will bear some similarities to Toyota’s Concept X shown at the Geneva motor show last March. Most commentators wrongly believed this heralded the design of the next Prius but our sources indicated that it was really designed to showcase themes for the junior Lexus hybrid.

The SAI is likely to get a more powerful version of the Prius’ hybrid powertrain, which will be mated to either a 2.0 or 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. At launch it will probably have a nickel-hydride battery, but be upgraded to lithium-ion technology by the end of 2010.

Insiders have also admitted that the SAI was principally developed for the US market, however sources say that plans are now afoot to put it on sale over here as well. Lexus has been disappointed by the performance of the 3-series-rivalling IS saloon in Europe and now see the SAI as a good entry-level model for the global market, especially against a backdrop of high fuel costs. We expect the high-end hybrid will arrive in US showrooms by summer 2009, with European sales starting by early 2010.

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17

23 December 2008

I'm curious if there is any new news or rumors about this car. I'm intrigued.

Hoping it will be AWD or FWD (for handling in the snow), even though I know the latter is anathema to "driving enthusiasts"...

23 December 2008

If it's based on the Prius, then it'll be FWD because that's what the Prius' Hybrid Synergy Drive is. If it's anything like the current Prius to drive, it'll be pretty rotten in the snow/ice: its traction control is ludicrously sensitive and kicks out the power and braking at the slightest sniff of a wheel slipping.

I hope it doesn't get canned as a result of the economic conditions. The Prius makes a lot of sense as a company car, but the cabin is definitely a bit low rent and would benefit from a bit of a tarting up from Lexus.

23 December 2008

[quote MrTrilby]its traction control is ludicrously sensitive and kicks out the power and braking at the slightest sniff of a wheel slipping.[/quote] Too true: pulling out of a damp sideturning into fast moving traffic on a 40-50mph main road is a potentially heart-stopping manoeuvre as the traction control cuts in removing all power just at the moment that you need it to get up to speed quickly. I've complained about this to the dealer but been told "they all do that, sir." I've not had any problems in snow and ice, the usual gentle application of all controls seems to work no better or worse than any other car; it's only when you need a sudden burst of acceleration that the traction control is too enthusiastic.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

23 December 2008

When I was in Los Angeles at the start of the month, I spent a hour chasing a taped up prototype saloon that was going up and down the Angeles Crest Highway. Pretty sure it was a Toyota/Lexus, as the cars with it were a Camry and a Prius. It looked quite a lot like the latest Avensis (yuk!)............ I would post my pics here, but I have been in contact with Brenda Priddy, who is trying to sell them, so I cannot publish them anywhere else just now.

23 December 2008

Another Motor Forumister !! What's going on over there ?! I bet you had to work that hire car eh Colin ? By the way, who the hell is Brenda Priddy ?

23 December 2008

Brenda Priddy is well known in the US both as a Scoop Photographer in her own right and also for running one of the agencies that supplies a lot of scoop pictures to both the magazines and some web-sites. Not sure she is that well known over in Europe, though.

And yes, believe it or not, a Honda Odyssey can catch a taped up prototype....... did have to back off at one point when I saw the "minders" with the other Toyotas at the base of the hill. They were about twice the size of the Japanese drivers that were in the group!

23 December 2008

Dan will be upset with you for not publishing the photos in an official hire car Motor.not exclusive scoop. Expect him to not talk to you for several months whilst e-mailing all your friends in the background. I predict your days on Motor.not are numbered. Publish or be damned !

23 December 2008

I'm more than happy with it, but thanks for asking about my welfare on the subject Steven. Remember to check-out the website, all is well once again, I know that you were very concerned.

www.Carmotive.com

24 December 2008

Good-o Dan. A fine website it is too. Talk to Colin. He has another exclusive but he's being shy about his photos because someone he'll never see again is trying to sell them. Merry Christmas.

24 December 2008

This is an interesting bit of brand stretching and represents really the first time I can remember Lexus trying something new in the prestige sector, as opposed to taking on existing BMW/Merc/Audi niches. Be very interesting to see how it works out.

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