First shown as a concept at Frankfurt in 2009 as the LF-Ch, CT200h is production version soon to challenge BMW 1-series and Audi A3. Big difference is that it will only be available as a petrol-electric hybrid. Lexus hopes that, like 1-series owners, it will draw new customers to the brand or allow existing owners to downsize

First shown as a concept at Frankfurt in 2009 as the LF-Ch, CT200h is production version soon to challenge BMW 1-series and Audi A3. Big difference is that it will only be available as a petrol-electric hybrid. Lexus hopes that, like 1-series owners, it will draw new customers to the brand or allow existing owners to downsize

Judging by the concern shown by its minders when journalists tried to open and shut the rear doors, the description of the CT 200h as a show car rather than a full-blown production vehicle is apt. But this is how the final production vehicle will look when it goes on sale later this year with European sales from early 2011.

The CT 200h was developed with Europe very much in mind, chief engineer Osama Sadakata said. "We surveyed customers in Germany, France and Italy and the Audi A3 came out as the survey benchmark."

He described the car as the Lexus gateway. "It will allow as many people as possible to experience Lexus. Our target is a 30 year old customer or those whose families have grown up.

"This car is our understanding of what Europe wants," he said.

Sadakata, who was chief engineer on the LS flagship line until 2007, said, in terms of quality, the CT 200h "has evolved from the LS".

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