Currently reading: Lexus CT200h: development pics
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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Read our review

Car review

The CT200h is an appealing luxury hybrid hatch that’s spoiled by misjudged chassis settings and a lack of overall performance

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MrTrilby 13 August 2010

Re: Lexus CT200h: development pics

Harry MK10 wrote:
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.

You get absolutely none of those problems with Toyota's hybrid CVT. It's really nothing like a conventional CVT gearbox. It's way smoother and quieter than the ZF auto in my 5 Series BMW.

I see no reason why it couldn't be designed to be sporty. The Prius does a good job of using the electric motor to fill in the petrol engine's power gaps to give fantastic throttle response with decent torque at low speeds. With a bigger electric motor and beefier battery pack, it could do the same at higher (50MPH+) speeds. With an ECU optimised for sports as well as economy, the CVT would allow the engine to spool up and deliver full power ready for when you need it - anticipating the throttle rather than reacting to it.

FastRenaultFan 12 August 2010

Re: Lexus CT200h: development pics

tannedbaldhead wrote:
Dad who is in the market for an Old Man Mobile and who's priority is a high driving position to allow easy exit and entrance has just ruled out the Qashqai because of its CVT.
Have a look at a Ford S-max just cause hes old does not mean he can.t have a nice ,reliable and stylish fun to drive car or if that does not suit then maybe a Peugeot 3008 or 5008 bote lovely well built and classy cars with classy interiers and good to drive or am sure there is other cars he might like tell us how u get on and what he gets .

topgearnut 12 August 2010

Re: Lexus CT200h: development pics

Front-drive is new for Lexus, and teamed with the CVT box in a 'sporty' car, things aren't shaping up all that well in my mind. I'm not going to rule the CT200h out completely because the guys at Lexus are very clever and will probably to a bang up job as usual, but they are certainly making life difficult for themselves to begin with! One thing I do like about Lexus is the fact that the electric motor is next to useless, however because it's a hybrid you pay no congestion charge and get a lower road tax bill for what is basically a 1.8 sporty hatch! I'm keeping my mind open but I'm not sure I'm going to be completely sold on the CT, especially with that gearbox.