New compact SUV from Lexus to be aimed at BMW's X1

Lexus is planning to enter the booming market for compact premium SUVs with a model based on the CT200 hybrid hatchback.

If the new car sells proportionally as well as BMW’s X1 and Audi’s Q3 models, it could become Lexus’s best-seller in Europe.

This test mule appears to be using a CT200h’s body, but it has a higher roofline and deeper sides and is riding higher than its hatchback sibling. However, Lexus stylists have clearly elected to keep close to the design language of the CT200h.

The CT200h’s transversely mounted 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor powertrain probably rules out a four-wheel-drive version of the SUV. The existing drivetrain, which has its battery pack mounted under the boot floor, sends a combination of petrol and/or electric power to the front wheels.

It’s likely that this new Lexus — possibly badged CX200 — will be marketed on its low CO2 emissions rather than its off-road performance.

Our Verdict

BMW X1

The BMW X1 is fine to drive, but buyers looking for premium feel may be better served by rivals' offerings

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Comments
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14 July 2013

The powertrain described doesn't rule out 4WD at all. The current RX450H uses a hybrid front wheel drive plus an electric motor in the rear axle. There is no mechanical linkage between the front and rear axles  This give a very effective four wheel drive - no off-road capability of course. 

There is some speculation as to whether the jacked-up CT200 platform will in fact be used, or whether the new vehicle will be more closely related to the Toyota Rav4, which is apparently much improved in its latest incarnation. 

14 July 2013

As Mr Holloway puts it succintly the compact premium SUV market is booming why should Lexus stay out. Lexus certainly has a small loyal customer base here in the UK.

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