Heels on Wheels: 2011 Lexus CT 200h Preview - VIDEO ENHANCED
SEE ALSO: Lexus Buyers Guide
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE LEXUS CT200h VEHICLE
The Lexus CT200h is a lean, green luxury – and performance – machine. A real game-changer for the company, the CT 200h possesses a combination of attributes not seen on any similar sport crossover competitor, luxury-based or not. This is because the entry-level premium compact standouts apart for two solid reasons: a hybrid engine achieving a combined EPA estimated fuel economy of 42-mpg; and a driver-centric feel featuring an array of cutting edge interior technology at your finger tips.
I was able to test drive several 2011 Lexus CT200h trims at a recent media event held in Palm Springs, California. All CT200h’s are equipped with a 134-horsepower Lexus Hybrid Powertrain system that can go from 0-60 in 9.8 seconds. The eco-kudos on the Ct 200h are long: The design incorporates numerous energy saving and environmentally-conscientious measures such as LED lighting, a lightweight energy-efficient audio system amplifier with bamboo charcoal speakers, and the use of bio-sourced materials. Price is yet to be determined, but Lexus states the CT200h will be the most affordable Lexus in the lineup.
The CT stands for “Compact Touring.” Lexus positions the CT200h next to the Audi 3, Volvo C30 and BMW 1-Series; however, the styling is more reminiscent of a Mazda3. Lexus is careful not to dub it a hatchback, although it is a 5-door vehicle. Lexus hopes to capture an entirely new group of buyers with the CT200h. In fact, the company estimates 60 percent of sales will comes from non-Lexus “conquest sales” – more specifically males in their 30-40’s moving up into the luxury car segment for the first time.
Click PLAY to watch video of the Lexus CT 200h
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The wide center console creates a snug cabin for the driver, but the design puts all the Lexus technology at your finger tips for one awesome operational zone. This includes the Remote Touch multi-function control device. Users are able to manipulate the “mouse” or cursor across an 8-inch full-color LCD multi-display screen to access the audio, navigation, climate, phone and vehicle set-up systems. The standard 6-speaker audio system features a CD-player, steering wheel mounted audio control switches and offers both USB and auxiliary port connectivity for the iPods and Bluetooth mobile phones. The available10-speaker Lexus Premium Audio System has a 6-disc in-dash CD-changer. A rear view monitor is also available, automatically projecting a full color, camera fed image of the view behind the vehicle onto the CT 200h’s navigation system display or the 3.3-inch display on the inner mirror whenever reverse gear is engaged.
Reliability & Safety Factor: As with every Lexus, the CT 200h’s highly advanced safety features are structured around an ‘Integrated Safety Management Concept’, which is designed to provide exceptional safety performance in most driving scenarios. Highlights include a Pre-Collision System (PCS) that can help reduce collision damage and injury; a Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) system; and an Electronically Controlled Braking-Regeneration system (ECB-R) which coordinates the control of both hydraulic and regenerative braking. The CT 200hhas additional active safety features like an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).
Cost Issues: Entering production at the end of 2010, the CT 200h will be available in the first quarter of 2011 so price has yet to be determined. Consider this will be offered as the cheapest Lexus in the lineup, consumers could be looking at a base price of around $30k.
Activity & Performance Ability: The Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain control system offers customers a choice of two distinct driving moods – Dynamic, or Relaxing – in conjunction with the full hybrid’s EV,ECO, NORMAL and SPORT drive modes. Other Toyota and Lexus hybrids offer similar modes, but the CT200h offers a new easy-to-use dial and icon format. The tachometer further aids the driver understanding either mode by personalizing the tachometer (blue or red lights should also keep you straight as to when the car is in SPORT or ECO mode). Like the Prius, the EV (electric only) can run to about 23-mph before the gas kicks in. We took the CT 200h into the Palm Spring mountain range for quick turns and uphill throttling. The sporty compact crossover felt balanced at tight turns, more spirited than expected for 134-horsepower hybrid powertrain and obtained an average of 37.5-mpg.
The Green Concern: The CT200h is designed to be a driver’s green dream with its main goal being sustainable mobility. From the NuLuxe seating material featuring no VOCs to the bamboo speakers, Lexus worked to use bio-sourced materials for the CT 200h.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Lexus CT 200h stands out in the sport crossover segment for offering a 42-mpg hybrid engine and a luxurious interior feel. Young, environmentally-conscious drivers that want something a lot more exciting than the Toyota Prius will feel drawn to the performance and driver-focused Lexus CT200h.
Click PLAY to watch the introduction of the CT 200h at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show
©2010 Katrina Ramser