2011 Lexus CT 200h Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
  • All-new front-wheel-drive platform
  • Compact sporty hybrid hatchback sedan
  • Standard 1.8-liter gasoline engine
  • Twin electric motors
  • Nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) battery pack
  • Available Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Available Pre-Collision System (PCS)
  • Available with Lexus Remote Touch controller
  • On sale in early 2011


2011 Lexus CT 200hHybrid vehicles have been on the market for about the past decade. Over the years, the popular gasoline-electric models have earned a well-deserved, environmentally-friendly reputation for being frugal at the pump. Unfortunately, that same fuel-efficient reputation also carries a negative connotation-most hybrids aren't very stimulating to drive.

Lexus is out to change that with its all-new 2011 CT 200h. The so-called premium compact hybrid promises to bring enjoyment back into driving, according to the automaker. "The CT 200h is expected to lead the class in fuel economy and deliver low emissions, but the CT 200h isn't just about being a hybrid, it's about having fun," says Lexus. According to the automaker, "The stylish CT 200h has an attitude and driving dynamic unlike any other Lexus hybrid. It will excite eco-conscious, young consumers and symbolize urban, luxury living."

This is an entirely new segment for Lexus, a company well-known for luxury automobiles that target a generally older and more established segment of buyers. As the CT 200h is aimed at a younger and more technically-savvy buyer, the automaker will shift its marketing plans accordingly. With that in mind, its first campaign for the sporty hybrid is an interactive digital short film. The 2011 Lexus CT 200h is scheduled to go on sale in early 2011.


2011 Lexus CT 200h interiorThe Lexus CT 200h is built on an all-new front-wheel-drive platform. The 4-door sedan, with a rear liftgate, is designed to seat up to five adults. The folding rear seats offer additional utility, when needed.

Like most vehicles designed with fuel efficiency in mind, the shape of the CT 200h was defined to minimize aerodynamic drag, the company says. A steeply raked windshield, long flowing roofline, and rear spoiler control airflow over the vehicle. On the sides, subtly flared fenders and wraparound rear windows complete the details. The front spoiler is low and wide, with fog lamps set on each side. The Lexus logo in the grille is shadowed in blue-now customary for the automaker's hybrid models.

Lexus describes the inside of the new CT 200h as modern and sporty, with a technical aura. A 3-spoke steering wheel sits immediately in front of the driver with a traditional analog gauge cluster directly behind and the tachometer is replaced with an "energy efficiency" dial. The dashboard is split into an upper zone, with an 8-inch multi-display LCD screen, and a lower zone with the shift lever and the Lexus "Remote Touch" multi-function controller. The instrument panel, cluster and console all comprise what Lexus calls its Human-Machine Interface (HMI).

Lexus utilizes a new "NuLuxe" upholstery (a synthetic material that is soft to the touch like leather) to trim the cabin of the CT 200h. Cloth upholstery is standard, with leather seating optional. Standard features include SmartAccess key (keyless entry and ignition); tilt and telescope steering wheel; steering wheel audio controls; sport front seats (8-way power for the driver); and a 6-speaker Lexus Premium audio system with CD player, USB/AUX inputs, and standard XM satellite radio. Optional equipment includes a power-operated moonroof, navigation system with backup camera, and Bluetooth.


2011 Lexus CT 200h hybrid drivetrainThe 2011 Lexus CT 200h is powered by a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder gasoline engine assisted by two electric motors that have dual roles-to act as propulsion motors or generators, depending on driving conditions. An engine-driven generator is tasked with charging the nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) battery pack (stored under the rear cargo area) or providing additional electricity to the motors. The power is sent to the front wheels through an electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Four different drive modes are offered: Normal, Eco, Sport and EV. Under Normal mode, throttle response is linear and the power is limited by the Power Control Unit (PCU) to a maximum of 500 volts. The Eco mode adjusts air conditioning and throttle settings to maximize fuel economy. Sport mode offers the most enthusiast-oriented driving, with the PCU boosted to a maximum output of 650 volts. In addition, vehicle stability control and traction control are less intrusive when Sport mode is selected. EV mode allows the CT 200h to drive under electric-only power for up to one mile-in certain circumstances.

Under the all-new platform is a unique suspension setup that includes MacPherson struts up front and a double-wishbone design in the rear. The rear suspension features a lightweight trailing arm-for a better ride-and the coil spring has been separated from the shock absorber to increase the cargo space in the rear hatch. The steering rack is electrically power assisted.


2011 Lexus CT 200hIn addition to the standard driver and passenger front air bags, knee air bags, side air bags, and curtain air bags, the Lexus CT 200h is fitted with an anti-lock brake system with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, traction control, and vehicle stability control as standard equipment.


Lexus is offering its 2011 CT 200h with its Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control as an available option. The Dynamic Radar Cruise Control uses millimeter-wave radar to actively measure distance from the vehicle in front-and maintain a pre-set safe distance. At the same time, PCS watches the space in front of the CT 200h, looking for obstacles with a front-mounted radar. The system works in conjunction with vehicle-speed sensors, steering angle, and yaw-rate sensors.

If, after analyzing the data, the PCS computer determines that a frontal collision is unavoidable, it will alert the driver with both audible and visual warnings. Simultaneously, the system increases brake pressure within the braking system (to prepare the brakes for activation), and it preemptively retracts the front seat belts.
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