...as well as CT 300h and CT 400h. As you might grapple to absorb the significance of this, a little back history is in order. Longtime my.IS readers are likely aware that, for several years, we have been following every rumor and bit of information on the upcoming smallest-ever Lexus, as it evolved from a cut-down rear-wheel-drive IS that was referred to by the colorful BS moniker (and, unfortunately, that's precisely what it turned out to be) to a front-wheel-drive luxo derivative of the Toyota Auris (itself a Corolla/Matrix offshoot). For those of you that wish to be brought up to speed on the subject, check out our previous From the land Down Under: The Lexus BS may not be B.S. after all, Part Deux
story, which itself contains links to older articles following this theme.
We did, however, neglect to comment on one significant later report, which appeared on 5 May 2009 on Top Gear's The Foreman
blog and reads as follows:
Lexus tackles the 1-series
Posted by Paul Horrell
Next year Lexus will have a crack at the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series. You’ll see a concept version of the car at this autumn’s Frankfurt show. The big news is that, like the new RX SUV, it’ll be hybrid-only. Hybrid is to Lexus what high-boost diesel is to the Germans. Big performance, low thirst.
After that Frankfurt show appearance, the real thing will go on sale in late 2010, at a price below the IS diesel. Think £20,000-odd.
If you’ve seen the photos of Lexus’s HS250h you’ll probably be panicking by now. The HS250h is a rebodied, higher-performance Prius. It’s made for the US market, and was introduced at the Detroit show in January. It is hideous in profile. Luckily, we won’t be getting it.
The new compact Euro-Lexus won’t share any body panels with the HS250h, and it will be a bit smaller. And of course it’ll be a hatchback. It will be FWD and based on the versatile new Prius platform.
Lexus hybrids are different from Toyota hybrds. They show an opposite way to ‘spend’ the efficiency gain of the system. A Prius is designed to get small-car economy from a bigger car. But Lexus hybrids all have higher performance than their standard counterparts.
Lexus has decided that it has to change its hybrid policy. The GS and LS hybrids aren’t making much headway. Andy Pfeiffenberger, Lexus chief in Europe, told Foreman, ‘Our hybrid saloons are going up against the V8 diesels in Europe. In future we need to compete against the four-cylinder diesels. So we will enter new sectors with low-displacement hybrids. The C-premium [i.e. Audi A3] segment is the fastest growing segment and we must be in it.’
(To view the article in its original context, click here
A Frankfurt Show debut as a concept? Hybrid-only like the RX? What's up with that?
Lexus brass have neither confirmed nor denied the fact that a concept 5-door hatchback previewing the production Lexus CT X00h series will debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany, but the automaker has
scheduled a Press Conference on Tuesday 15 September from 3:45-4 PM local time in Hall 8's Stand C11
. Further rumors state that Lexus' LFA supercar will debut in its final production version the following month at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show (Press Days Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 October). There is much logic to this plan if it's true, though, for it would debut the CT-previewing concept in the heart of Europe, where its production version would almost surely become Lexus' largest volume-selling model (surpassing the IS) there. And, with the Tokyo show having taken a much bigger hit than Frankfurt from an exodus of international carmakers due to the global economic climate, it rests on the domestic Japanese carmakers' shoulders to polish the show's dimmed luster, and what better way to do it than with perhaps Japan's greatest automotive achievement ever, the Lexus LFA?
And what about that "like the new RX SUV, it’ll be hybrid-only" comment? Surely a mistake, right? Not really. With the hybrid versions of the Lexus GS, LS and RX far outselling their non-hybrid counterparts in Europe, Lexus Great Britain, if not Lexus Europe as a whole, have decided to import only
the hybrid version of the 3rd-generation Lexus RX, the RX 450h.
How close will the Lexus CT-previewing concept be to the real deal?
Frankly, that's anybody's guess, for past Lexus concepts have been all over the map in this regard, ranging from the HPS, SLV and Sport Coupe concepts that were dead ringers for the production 2nd-gen GS, 1st-gen RX and 2nd-gen SC, respectively, to vague, only loosely-related predictors such as the LF-S
What happens after the Frankfurt debut?
Our best guess is that the concept version of the CT x00h (which this author muses might be named LF-T) will travel eastward from Frankfurt to Tokyo to Los Angeles (for the 2009 Auto Show in early December) to Detroit (for the January 2010 North American International Auto Show). Yes, that's not a typo, for this most Euro-centric Lexus ever is most likely to mark its production version debut at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show in early March, followed by its North American debut at the New York Auto Show a month later.
The upcoming Toyota Auris Hybrid. Why it's significant, and how it relates to the Lexus CT 200h
While the North American and Japanese markets have seen a mix of dedicated hybrid-only Toyota-badged vehicles (the Prius) and hybrid powertrain options for Toyotas (such as the Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid), Europe has only seen the Prius. That is about to change, however, with the official 17 July 2009 announcement
that Toyota will introduce, in mid-2010 and coinciding with its mid-term minor refresh, a hybrid powertrain option for the Auris hatchback that will be built, like the non-hybrid Auris and HS-brother-under-the-skin Toyota Avensis, in Toyota's Burnaston plant in north-central England. More accurately, the hybrid powertrains will be built at the nearby Deeside facility and transported to Burnaston for final assembly.
As we've stated in several previous articles, the Toyota Auris is a line of 3 and 5-door hatchbacks that shares the Toyota Corolla and Matrix's front-wheel-drive platform and 2600mm (102.4") wheelbase. As with Toyota/Lexus' larger 2700mm (106.3") front-wheel-drive platform that underpins the Toyota Prius and Avensis, Scion tC and Lexus HS, there is ample enough flexibility built into these underpinnings (such as simple torsion beam rear suspension versus more sophisticated double-wishbone type with trailing arms rear suspension variants) that to say that the Lexus CT will simply be a rebodied Toyota Auris Hybrid is a gross and inaccurate oversimplification. As our initial
Front Page articles on the Lexus HS noted, there is plenty of differentiation between the HS and its Toyota progeny, and the same will surely be the case between the CT and the Auris Hybrid.
CT 200h, CT 300h and CT 400h. Are those designations for real?
Indeed they are. As our MVM (Most Valuable Moderator) for advance model nomenclature information k3vo informs us in a thread in The Garage forum
, Toyota Motor Corporation has applied for the trademarks CT400h, CT300h and CT200h in United States and (so far) only CT200h in Canada for use in association with automobiles and structural parts thereof. The U.S. Trademark Applications were filed on 2 June 2009, and are numbers 77750120 for the CT200h, 77750134 for the CT300h and 77750143 for the CT400h. Canadian Trade-Mark Application No. 1443736 was filed over a month later, on 6 July 2009 for CT200h. It is unclear why Canadian applications for CT300h and CT400h have not been filed.
CT. What do the letters mean?
This is actually one of the easiest of Lexus' naming conventions to decipher. The "C" as first letter surely stands for Compact, and is also an allusion to the European C-segment
in which the Lexus CT will compete. The "T" is a new letter in a Lexus naming system that, to date, has only seen second letters of "S" for sedans, "C" for coupes and retractable-hardtop convertibles and "X" for crossovers and SUVs. The "T" most likely stands for Tourer or Touring, and is a nod to its 5-door hatchback body style. And, going out on a limb here, don't be too surprised if the 3rd-generation Lexus IS sees an IS T spiritual successor to the SportCross in addition to IS sedan and IS C (hopefully this time as fixed-roof coupe as well as convertible) variants.
200, 300 and 400. What do the numbers mean?
If this were a non-hybrid Lexus, this section of the article wouldn't even be necessary, for, unlike Mercedes and BMW, Lexus model numbers are straight-up designators for the engine size in cubic deci
meters. With hybrids Lexus models, however, it's not so straightforward, for Lexus uses a number that reflects its performance equivalence with a non-hybrid larger engine. In other words, a Lexus RX or GS with a 3.5-liter V6 plus hybrid electric motors accelerates like a 4.5-liter V8, hence it's designated as an RX or GS 450h. Similarly, a Lexus LS with a 5-liter V8 plus hybrid electric motors that accelerates like a 6-liter V12 earns the LS 600h designation. With the more economy-oriented HS 250h, the "bump" is only 10 cubic deci
meters (or 100cc) versus its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, although Lexus likes to say that it's a 2.4-liter 4 with the performance of a 2.5-liter V6. So, how to interpret the 200, 300 and 400 numbers? Read on, but please keep in mind that this is just educated guesswork and not anything that Lexus has officially confirmed.
Most evidence seems to indicate that the Lexus CT line will launch in late 2010 only
in its smallest-engined variant, the CT 200h. This one is the easiest of the three powertrain possibilities to decipher: the 1.8-liter 2ZR-FXE 4-cylinder engine plus hybrid electric motors powertrain from the just-introduced 3rd-generation Toyota Prius, which performs like a 2-liter 4-cylinder engine.
CT 300h appears to foretell the eventual replacement of the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder 2AZ-FE engine that, as the 2AZ-FX
E currently underpins the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Lexus HS 250h with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 2AR
-FE engine that is used in the 2009 Toyota RAV4 and 2010 Toyota Camry. It seems that an upcoming 2AR-FXE hybrid powertrain built around this slightly larger engine would perform like a 3-liter V6, and also seems to indicate a future HS 300h upgrade.
Most tantalizing, but not altogether surprising, is the CT 400h. A Japanese Domestic Market variant of the aforementioned Toyota Auris, the Blade Master, uses the 2GR-FE 3.5-liter V6 that is found in too many Toyota and Lexus models to mention. Although North American sources have stated that variations in the front end structure to meet our stiffer crash test standards have precluded its application in the Toyota Matrix, it seems that the Lexus CT structure may well allow for this. Seemingly, the CT 400h would use a detuned, more economical version of the Lexus RX 450h's 2GR-FXE hybrid powertrain to provide 4-liter V8-like performance. If Lexus would see fit to equip it with all-wheel-drive and a CVT with some of the clever programming tricks of the IS F's 8-speed automatic (forget about a clutch-pedal manual with a hybrid), they may well create a new-age luxury hot hatch that takes the Subaru Impreza STI / Mitsubishi Lancer EVO ethic to a whole new place or, more accurately, create an unexpected rival to the never-sold-in-North America Audi S3. This is, of course, wishful thinking on my part, and Lexus has not
confirmed anything beyond registering that model name, but, with both Toyota President/CEO Akio Toyoda and Toyota of North America President/COO Yoshimi Inaba having made public commitments to listen more attentively to the voice of the customer and to rekindle their mostly dormant enthusiast-friendly mojo
, there is
Again, we wish to thank Canadian Forum Moderator k3vo, who, after alerting us to two of our 10 Most Significant Articles over the past decade
, now has provided my.IS with, arguably, our biggest scoop yet.