By Michael Bettencourt
The Lexus LF-Ch concept shown at the CIAS may have been introduced as a concept, but just days later, Toyota’s upscale division confirmed that a production version of the compact but high-tech hatchback was destined for production. The question is, will that production car make it to North America, or perhaps even Canada only, and by when?
The new Lexus hatchback will be called the CT 200h, and will have its global debut at the Geneva auto show, which opens just two weeks after the close of the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto in early March. Lexus is still being coy with information about the production car, showing only its badge and other small details in teaser images released by the company about the car. But at least now we know that the previously released LF-Ch information should give us a major clue into the new entry that’ll likely be in Lexus showrooms by the end of 2010, at least in Europe.
Designed by the firm’s California-based research and design center, the LF-Ch concept is meant to allow Lexus to study the needs of young city dwellers, a demographic that has largely avoided the relatively conservative products in Lexus showrooms so far. The design team hid the entry buttons for the rear doors in the chrome moulding and blacked out the B-pillars of this four-door, five-seat hatchback to give it the look of a coupe. It features LED lights and the newest (second) generation of Lexus Hybrid Drive technology.
Inside, this powertrain will be the first Lexus hybrid to offer a Sport setting, as well as the Normal, fuel-sipping Eco, and EV modes available on the Lexus HS 250h compact sedan and Toyota Prius now. But unlike that HS 250h, Lexus makes no claims that this will be a unique hybrid vehicle, so there will likely be a gasoline powered version of the CT hatchback as well, which will compete with cars like the Audi A3 five-door, BMW 1 Series coupe (with hatchbacks in Europe), Volvo C30 hatchback and Mini Cooper.
Lexus seems to be looking better and better all the time.