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Future models - Lexus - CT - 240h

Lexus on the move

Improvements: The recently-introduced Lexus CT200h compact hybrid is likely to receive some changes in 2012.

CT200h to get further improvements and larger-engined sibling as Lexus rebuilds

Lexus logo19 Sep 2011

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in FRANKFURT

THE Lexus CT200h hybrid small car, already the recipient of a number of minor trim and audio changes this month even though it was only released in March this year, is expected to receive further improvements in 2012.

There is also a possibility that the compact hybrid will be joined by the larger-engined CT240h, to help inject some driver’s car credibility in the front-drive eco luxury hatch.

Lexus Australia marketing manager Peter Evans said the larger-engined hybrid was more likely than a rumoured non-hybrid petrol-engined version of the car.

He said the CT240h – which appeared at the Melbourne motor show and employs the same 2.4-litre hybrid drivetrain as the Camry Hybrid rather than the CT200h’s 1.8-litre unit – was “under study”.

“We’d love to see it (on sale here) because it will give us a performance variant,” said Mr Evans.

“The new 2.4-litre hybrid drivetrain, which is being used in a range of models, that’s over 150kW compared to 100kW, so the power-to-weight ratio would be very worthwhile for a performance brand.”

After a tumultuous few months following Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami in March, Lexus production was back on track from August.

31 center imageLeft: Lexus Australia marketing manager Peter Evans.

Mr Evans indicated that while the initial 2011 forecast for 8000 vehicles was no longer viable as a result of the natural disaster, a strong finish should see the company finish the year off at around 6500 vehicles.

Lexus should be boosted next year by the all-new GS sedan, which has been confirmed for a second-quarter, including the petrol-electric Hybrid version that made its debut at the Frankfurt motor show last week and will usurp the V8 as the range flagship.

Mr Evans believes the fourth-generation E-class competitor is improved in a number of important ways, including passenger and boot space, and sales should therefore improve significantly.

“The GS has never been particularly successful in its segment,” he admitted.

“It appealed to a narrow buyer audience … it lacked boot space, rear headroom and legroom and (easy) ingress and egress. But the new car addresses all of the customer feedback issues.”

The revamped GS range will kick off a busy 2012 for Lexus, as it revises or renews most of the model line-up.

Among the changes slated for next year are “big” facelifts for the three-year old RX and four-year old LX SUVs, and a complete reskin for the LS limousine.

Further down the track, Lexus will be boosted by a redesigned IS after eight years with very little change, but not before the 2013 model year at the earliest.

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