First Look: 2010 Lexus CT 200h

After being unceremoniously outed on the Web by a classic pre-show embargo leak, Lexus has officially taken the wraps off its new 2011 Lexus CT 200h compact hybrid, which is set to make its debut at the 2010 Geneva show.

As has been expected, the CT 200h borrows heavily from the LF-Ch concept shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, but the wild styling and flamed surfaces of the show car have been toned down for the production model. Instead of the large side front brake ducts of the LF-Ch concept, the CT 200h has deeply recessed fog lights to help give it a more aggressive look. The LED headlights have also been replaced with xenon units, but the car does continue to use LED lighting for daytime running lights.

At the rear of the car, the concept' s L-shaped taillights and angular rear hatch of the are no more, and Lexus also moved the rear fog lights from the concept's deep recesses to a new position, where they sit almost flush with the rear bumper skin. The center-exit dual exhaust tips remain in the same general spot, but they're substantially wider. Inside, the CT 200h's flowing center stack is replaced by a more conventional design, but the tiered instrument panel still resembles the one used in the concept.

Dark soft-touch materials are used extensively throughout the car according to Lexus, as are contrasting metallic accents. An 8-inch pop-up infotainment screen is placed at the top of the dashboard, and is operated by Lexus' new Remote Touch trackball-esque controller on the center console.

As the "h" suggests, the CT 200h is, in fact, a hybrid. If you're at all familiar with Toyota's Prius, you'll likely recognize the driveline in the CT, which pairs a 1.8-liter I-4 with Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The CT 200h can run on electricity alone for up to 1.2 miles -- as long as you keep speeds below 28 mph. Lexus hasn't disclosed final output figures, but given its similarity to the Prius, we're expecting the net power to be around 135 hp or so.

The CT 200h's E-CVT transmission has four drive modes -- EV, ECO, Normal or Sport. As the names imply, you can take the car from super frugal to relatively sporty depending on your mood and driving style.

The hybrid hatch features a suspension design unique to the vehicle that employs a McPherson strut front with a double wishbone setup out back -- a combination that Lexus says offers drivers both superior handling and ride comfort. Components developed exclusively for the CT 200h at the front include the coil spring, shock absorber, bump stop, upper support, upper and lower insulators, and anti-roll bar.

The double wishbone rear employs lightweight trailing arm, with the coil springs and shock absorbers positioned separately in an effort to minimize intrusion into the loadspace floor. Other compenents developed exclusively for the CT 200h's rear suspension include the the coil spring, shock absorber, upper support, bump stop, hub and bearing, and anti-roll bar.

Although the CT 200h was developed to target European buyers, Lexus says the CT 200h will be available "in all markets where Lexus is present" beginning in late 2010. An exact U.S. launch date hasn't been announced yet

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