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Lexus Won’t Take on the Mercedes CLA or Audi A3

No sub-$30,000 cars, says Japanese brand’s leader.

by on Aug.01, 2014

The Lexus CT200h - the F-Sport version shown here - is the Japanese brand's entry model.

A new generation of low-cost luxury cars from manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and Audi have clearly clicked with consumers, generating a flood of new buyers, many of them entering the upscale market for the first time.

But despite that growth in demand, don’t expect to see a sub-$30,000 car coming from Lexus, the highline division of Toyota Motor Co., says the brand’s global chief executive.

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Describing products like the Mercedes CLA and Audi A3 as “cheap luxury,” Lexus International boss Mark Templin told Automotive News that for his money, “You can’t build a Lexus with the quality, the durability the reliability, the craftsmanship, the content that we put in a Lexus and sell it profitability under $30,000. You just can’t do it.”


First Look: Lexus CT200h F-Sport

Adding a bolder look - but no more muscle - to the hybrid line.

by on Sep.16, 2011

With the Lexus CT200h F-Sport the difference is in the eyes of the beholder. Nothing changes under the skin.

Say the word, “hybrid,” and you’re likely to respond with, “Toyota.”  And for good reason, considering the maker accounts for 75% of the gas-electric vehicles currently on the road, primarily in the form of the Toyota Prius.  But the Japanese maker’s luxury marque has arguably made an even bigger commitment to hybrid technology, with a mix of models already accounting for nearly 15% of its total volume.

That includes the CT200h, which plugged into the Lexus line-up last year.  If anything, the CT seems to have been designed primarily with the European market in mind, the hybrid generating 30,000 sales in less than a year on the market there.  But, if anything, critics have found it a bit wanting.  And Lexus hopes to address those concerns with the Frankfurt Motor Show preview of the revised CT200h F-Sport.

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Don’t get your hopes up too high, however.  Early on, Lexus seemed intent on emphasizing performance, as much as fuel-efficiency, with hybrids like the original GS450h.  It has since shifted the focus to mileage.  So, despite being designated an F-Sport — a designation that’s supposed to signal the most peppy models in the Lexus line-up — the CT200h will remain a more luxurious version of the less-than-thrilling Toyota Prius and not a vehicle whose driving behavior will call to mind the word “sporty.”


Lexus CT 200h: Slow-speed Driving Fun

Luxury automaker's latest hybrid is more than a dressed-up Prius.

by on Feb.25, 2011

The Lexus CT 200h is fun to drive, but it doesn't accelerate quickly.

It would be easy to write off the Lexus CT200h is just a gussied up version of Toyota’s hybrid poster child, the Prius.

It’s true that the CT 200h shares its platform and most of its hybrid mechanicals with the Prius, but where the Prius is a snooze to drive, the Lexus is fun. Can an underpowered hybrid that’s geared for mileage, not performance, be fun? In a word, yes.

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If you need eye-popping acceleration, look elsewhere. In fact, if you expect average acceleration, look elsewhere. With a combined 134 horsepower between its 98-horsepower 1.8-liter four cylinder and 80-horsepower electric motor, the CT isn’t going to win any stoplight grand prix. Well, unless, the competition is a Prius.

But the CT is one of those cars that make spouses complain “What, do you think you’re Mario Andretti?” The hefty steering begs for you to take corners a little faster than normal, clipping apexes with the precision of a sports car. So there’s a Prius lurking under the CT’s sheetmetal? No one will ever know.

Lexus Increasing Dependence On Hybrids

But luxury maker struggling with flaws HS250h.

by on Dec.09, 2010

Lexus is betting heavily on hybrids, like the CT200h, despite some setbacks.

As it races to the wire, Lexus is once again aiming to end the year as the nation’s leading luxury nameplate – and its heavy dependence on hybrid-electric technology is one reason it would get there.

The first high-line brand to introduce a hybrid-electric vehicle, Lexus now has more HEVs in its line-up than any other luxury brand – and the list is about to grow, with the launch of the new CT200h. (Click Here for a review of the 2011 Lexus CT200h.)

But not all of the Toyota subsidiary’s hybrids have performed equally well.  Insiders lament the lackluster performance of the first dedicated Lexus model, the HS250h, while the LS600h, the most expensive model in the Lexus line-up – other than the limited-edition LF-A supercar – has been lagging initial expectations.

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Nonetheless, Lexus manager Brian Bolain says the trendline is moving in the right direction, and that hybrid sales are expected to surge from around 30,000 to 42,000 with the addition of the 2011 CT200h.  Measured in terms of share, the technology accounts for about 13% of the brand’s overall volume, with Lexus aiming to boost that to at least 18%.

“We’re looking at the CT200h being a game-changing opportunity for us,” said Bolain, during a recent preview of the new hybrid.