Lexus Goes Hip and Hybrid — CT 200h

The new 2011 Lexus CT 200h, a five-door compact and the fifth hybrid in the Lexus lineup, is being marketed to the children of baby boomers.

With the completely new vehicle Lexus is hoping to tap into the generation that wants their ride to be tech savvy, sporty, young and eco-conscious. One way Lexus is approaching this particular buying audience is by marketing the CT 200h as the “darker side of green.”

“Hybrid implies this sunny feel; we wanted to do it differently,” explained Brian Bolain, manager, Lexus Product Life Cycle.
The microsite (www.DarkerSideofGreen.com) for the Lexus CT 200h has crafted an online experience that includes a late night in-car web cast. Darkcasting, hosted by actress Whitney Cummings and former cast member of MTV’s PUNK’D, is filmed at night inside the CT 200h. Cummings interviews the local celebs in major cities, including hip luminaries such as a top chef in Chicago, a comedian in New York City and musicians in San Francisco and New Orleans.

“These are the generations on the rise. We want to add these people to our portfolio,” said Bolain. How does Lexus translate this? With performance, price, and style.
— Performance: To be expected from a hybrid, the CT 200h is quiet but that doesn’t mean it’s a yawn. A low-emission 1.8-liter gas/electric motor combination gives out 134 horsepower with a high fuel economy rating of 43 miles per gallon city and 40 mpg highway.

While the 2011 CT 200h is not going to be noted for its 0-60 mph times of 9.8 seconds the driver can choose among four different driving experiences with Drive Mode Select. If you want to creep around town, EV, electric power only, works for short distances at low speeds. Eco is for green driving — the dash lights up in green to give you clues on how much electric vs. gas power you are using. And the Sport mode lights up the control panel in red and tightens up the steering feel and puts more feedback into the throttle. Normal mode, well, that’s just for everyday driving.

— Styling: There’s nothing predictable about this hybrid’s looks. In fact, it could be referred to as a “hatchback” but Lexus doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into that market. Available in striking colors, including Daybreak Yellow Mica, Matador Red Mica and Smoky Granite Mica, the compact hybrid rests low and wide with meaty haunches that spell attitude.

In the cabin, a low driving position puts the display zone at eye level and the hips at a lower height, and adjusts the pedal accordingly. NuLuxe, the fabric that covers the seats, is 50 percent lighter than leather and is offered in Caramel, Ivory and Black. Lexus typical details, including 89 LED lights in the car, are low-impact environmentally, cooler and more refined.

— Standard equipment: dual-zone climate control, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, traction control, LED daytime running lights, multi-information screen, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth, push-button start. Options include: navigation system, backup camera, moonroof, Bamboo, Dark Ash Burl wood, or metal trims.
The 2011 CT 200h will be on sale the beginning of March with pricing starting at $29,120. — Holly Reich, Motor Matters

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