The product planning minds at Lexus
thought they were getting a jump on the market. They'd introduce the first small luxury car that was also a hybrid, and catch the competition flat-footed, much the way parent company Toyota
did with the Prius. The market -- if sales of the HS 250h are any indication -- had other ideas.
Given the direction competitors including Infiniti, BMW, Mercedes Benz A
are taking, it wasn't a bad idea. What it was, though, was a rush to market. Critics quickly derided the HS 250h as a Prius in a fancy suit, with a designer price tag to match. Sales flat-lined pretty much out of the gate, while the third-generation Prius got all the glory, what with nearly as many amenities, far better fuel economy, and a much better price.
CT 200h, on paper, LEXUS IS
the car the HS 250h should've been: a proper luxury car with real hybrid credentials, not a mechanical compromise with an uncompromising price tag. At face value, the CT 200h LEXUS IS
a much more attractive offering than the HS 250h, literally and metaphorically. Under the surface, it appears to be a combination of the best attributes of the Prius and HS 250h.
The CT 200h LEXUS IS
built on a "highly modified existing platform," which appears to be Lexus
PR-speak for the HS 250h platform, if the components are any indication. Both ride on a MacPherson strut front suspension and a double-wishbone rear suspension not shared with the Prius, have similar dimensions, and will be built on the same production line at Toyota's Kyushu plant, next to the Lexus Rx
450h hybrid SUV. Lexus
promises, though, that the CT 200h's suspension has been thoroughly revamped with lightweight and low-friction components to improve handling and efficiency.