By on February 26, 2010

While America gets a Lexus-badged Toyota Sai as our first entry-premium hybrid car, the Europeans will get this CT200h instead. In addition to better differentiation from the Prius (to this blogger, the HS250h smacks of old Buick-style brand engineering), the CT200h is said to be more driver-focused than previous Toyota hybrids. But then, we Americans are all used to not getting the smaller, tauter, hatchback-ier models by now, right? Right?

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23 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Lexus And The Weary Sai Edition...”


  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    This is not by any means the first premium hybrid car.

  • avatar
    paradigm_shift

    Meh, I can’t really be bothered enough to care that we don’t get this.

    The fact that we don’t have the Ford Focus RS on our shores, that I care about…

  • avatar
    moedaman

    Come on now Ed, what’s with the smarky attitude? If hatchbacks and station wagons don’t sell here in the USA, why would a company spend the money to have it meet US standards? Remember there used to be plenty of choices in hatchbacks and wagons. I myself owned four different hatchbacks in the 70’s and 80’s. But obiviously not many other people wanted them, otherwise there would be a better assortment than there is now.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Exactly, for whatever reasons U.S. buyers don’t buy hatchbacks. Next case.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Just as anecdotal evidence, a couple of years back we needed a new car for the wife. We chose a lightly used Malibu Maxx (pause for the hooting to die down) largely because it was the only mid-size hatchback available (rejecting a Vibe as too small and noisy). Shortly after, her sister got one as well after seeing how functional it was. And just last month, our niece replaced her Escape with one, again after seeing how functional and comfortable a mid-size hatchback can be. Now these are 3 style-conscious women who found that a reasonably priced car with a big door in the back presented much better value than a SUV or CUV. Yes, these are women who see vehicles more as appliances than as performance art, but I still see it as proof that there is a good market for hatchbacks beyond entry level econoboxes.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Owning a couple of Lexus’s already, I wouldn’t touch this car (nor the HS250h). It has no wood, it has a needlessly complex dashboard, and is a total departure of it’s brand values of comfort, silence, simplicity, and reliability. If I want a sporty car, I’ll go for an Infiniti instead. I can see myself in a Lincoln or Hyundai if Lexus keeps going like this.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    perhaps damning this with faint praise, but this is a much more appealing entry level Lexus Hybrid than the slab-sided akward looking HS250…

    If the suspension tuning is done right, and the price is kept in check, I could see this as a somewhat justified, sportier, more luxurious alternative to the Pruis, but again, more than 5K for a Lexus badge and slightly better performance over a comparable Prius is gonna be a deal killer.

  • avatar
    thalter

    Speaking a Lexus IS owner, this car is almost exactly what I am looking for in my next car. As an engineer, the technology and efficiencies of Hybrids are appealing to me (the idea of recovering energy from braking that would otherwise be lost as heat has always intrigued me). As a driving and automotive enthusiast, the current Hybrid offerings leave me cold, with the possible exception of the GS450h. However, the GS is large, and gets crappy gas mileage for a Hybrid.

    As for some minor quibbles, like the lack if a wood interior, I’m sure it would be suitably luxed up if brought to the US. If this car can crack both 40MPG and 7-seconds 0-60, then I am sold, checkbook in hand.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Sorry, but it looks like it fell off the transport truck face first. What’s up with those giant malformed foglight indentations? The Koreans are eating the lunch of the Japanese in the design department.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nothing against premium hatchbacks but this looks like a modified Toyota Matrix.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Americans don’t buy hatchbacks any more.

    Most people are mystified as to why, but I remember the reason because I was there when people DID buy hatchbacks.

    Americans don’t buy hatchbacks because it is a bodystyle which was equated with “cheap-@ss econobox junk” and “can’t afford any better”.

    Except of course, for some oddballs (literally) like Saab 99’s.

    But only weirdos / east coast Professors (but I repeat myself…) bought Saabs.

    At least, that was how it looked to the general public.

    Preconcieved notions are very difficult to break.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    No need to buy a hatch or wagon when there are small crossovers everywhere. While not everyone wants one, they sell far to well to be ignored.

    I thought this was a Lexus badged Matrix with a Prius drivetrain.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    1) I’m the target market for this. DINK. Currently own 2 “premium-ish” hatchbacks (MKV GTI and a Mini S). I have a 3rd “hatchback” in a 2010 4Runner.
    2) Performance wise, this sounds great. Get the fuel economy benefits of the HSD but it should handle quite well w/ the light weight and double wishbones. I can’t imagine a decently equipped model going much over $30k, either. Not bad.
    3) The interior is great. Reminds me of a modernized current 3 series interior. The 3 is a little on the bland and conservative side, but this takes the logical shape and jazzes it up (for reference, I love my plaid GTI seats and the quirky MINI interior is fun after you figure out where everything is).
    4) What were they thinking w/ that C pillar and the generic wheels? So close to being a very interesting and attractive vehicle. It simply looks odd as is. Hopefully it looks better in the flesh… if it ever makes it to the US.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    How far do they have to go to make the HS250h not considered a badge-engineered copy of the Prius? It shares a modified version of the Prius’ monocoque — the rear suspension is completely different, an expensive double-wishbone instead of the cheap torsion bar Prius rear end, it’s not a hatchback, it has the 2.4l Camry engine instead of the 1.8l Prius motor and the interior is completely different (gauge cluster is in different locations). That is about like saying the Venza is just a badge-engineered Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Most people throw badge engineering terms around a lot for anything that shares the same platform, which isn’t fair as the sole basis for calling anything badge engineered.

      Badge engineering to me is like the Opel Insignia and the Buick Regal. Almost literally taking off one badge and putting on another. I also think there is no problem with this as long as they aren’t sold in the same market. To me, sharing the same platform and even drive train is not badge engineering if you have different interiors and exteriors. I am in the minority in this opinion.

  • avatar
    John R

    I wonder how feasible a K20 swap would be…

  • avatar
    thalter

    Just an interesting tidbit I discovered at My.is. Apparently Toyota has filed for US Trademarks for the terms CT200h, CT300h, and CT400h. There could be some really hot versions of this car!

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    It’s ugly but it may sell

    I think the market for luxury small cars is growing (thinking A3, BMW 1 series) especially when a 3 series and a4s are $35-50K

    Also Lexus needs younger buyers or it will become Buick

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    This really ticks me off. I think the interior and exterior styling of the Lexus CT200h look way better than the half-baked HS250h styling the US market gets! The dash still has the high-tech look of the HS (joystick shifter and nav system, pop up screen, etc.), but the lines flow together, whereas the HS’ dash looks like they bolted in the center stack designed for another car. Plus the CT’s front and rear exteriors actually looks sleek and stylish, unlike the ungainly HS.

    I do agree with the posters who say the CT200h lacks & needs interior wood trim. It looks classy but a bit cold, much like the BMW cars I’ve seen. But, considering they’re selling it Europe, that’s probably a selling point. If they lux up the interior (and don’t decontent it like they did to the US market HS250h (compaed to the JDM one)), I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

    If hatchbacks are non-starters in the US market, then hopefully Lexus will make a sedan version of the CT200h (i.e., a de-uglified HS250h). I don’t object to hatchback vehicles, & consider them way more practical than sedans, although I do prefer the appearance of sedans as they look like what I consider to be “family cars”. The irony of the unpopularity of hatchbacks in the US is that every SUV is a hatchback, and they sell well.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Lexus may eventually have a problem selling their current hatchback-style RX450h in that it’s bigger, much heavier, and somewhat oddly designed inside than the previous 400h series. Why they decided to add 450 pounds to a hybrid eludes me.

    I’d definitely consider a 200h provided Lexus offers an AWD version (extra rear motor driving the rear axle).

  • avatar
    tedward

    I actually quite like the look of the CT pictured, and do not understand why Toyota wouldn’t bring this hatch to the states and offering a sedan version later. It’s not as if there’s any sort of correlation between Toyota hybrids and 5 door bodies right? right…

    I agree with the author on the HS as well. It looks cheap and lazy, even if it isn’t obviously badge engineered. If they wanted to make a “cheap Buick hybrid” they should have just slapped the drivetrain into an ES. Instead Lexus gets two embarassing cars, and without the Toyota hybrid hatch I bet most people will never guess what it actually is.


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