And not in terms of just the NEDC this time around either! [fimg=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2011_Lexus_CT_200h.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Sept. 14, 2010 The rear of the upcoming 2011 CT 200h – 9.8 seconds to 60 and just 42 mpgUS combined. Middling acceleration for a hatch deemed as a sports cart and just OK FE considering the drivetrains Prius lineage. The new CT 200h, will it be an unprecedented experience in premium compact driving or a lackadaisical disconnected from the road driving experience? With Toyota’s HSD, the Prius motor and what appears to be an HS like attention to the suspension and NVH that we have reported on a number of times already, I would have to say it will do a lot of things well. Spirited driving performance however is going to be best left to the BMW set while the CT 200h will be forced to focus on its green credentials to gain market penetration. While the Lexus MUSTs, a development standard setup to provide a unique driving character; elegant styling; Lexus’ outstanding manufacturing quality and attention to detail; and the renowned customer service which lies at the heart of the Lexus ownership experience will be the mainstay, it’s the driving experience from behind the wheel that will make or break its chances in the showroom. Most of the MUST’s fluff is to get the customer in the showroom as the sports car crowd already expects every car they drive today to have excellent QC for at least 100K miles. The customer service aspect is only put to good use when something the design team did wrong appears in an in your face, up close and personal SOB when said customer is handing you a $580 check to take care of some minor problem to his or her car at the 49,000 mile mark, just beyond the warranty period. Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive and Powertrain in the next Lexus The CT 200h’s Hybrid Drive system (Lexus loves to call it the Lexus Hybrid Drive System for some reason?) features a unique energy management system. Through the application of “brand-specific[/b]” engineering solutions and software tuning, Lexus engineers have focused on enhancing both the environmental and driving performance of the full hybrid series/parallel system, as well as keep its NVH levels low. With a total system output of 134 HP (that number sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), the CT 200h will accelerate seamlessly from 0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds. A little more weight than the icon and equal to a slightly bit slower depending on where you get your 0 to 60 data from. And the telling details is? The CT 200h will be rated at remarkably high fuel consumption figure compared to the car it is based on, a combined EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 42 mpg. That is where the weight really took a chunk out of the tires by comparison to the Prius unfortunately. The Hybrid Drive generates significantly less NOx and zero particulate emissions compared to an equivalent diesel engine vehicle according to Toyota but after a conversation with some of the Argonnel Lab boys a month ago, the new Jetta TDI was emitting essentially 0 NOx and PM emissions as well. In fact, it was doing so well, the National lab had to budget in the most advanced exhaust emissions HW they could find to even measure an output! Lexus, you may have to keep the 0 NOx and 0 PM emissions to yourself as the latest diesel drivetrains out of Europe are offering far better performance with a similar emissions profile… Moreover, when operating in a switchable EV mode, it generates zero NOx and particulate emissions, driving for up to one mile at speeds of up to 28 mph. Or is it 41 mph? Or maybe 45 mph? Who cares, you have to make up for that free one mile of AER with the gas engine propelling the car and refilling the pack back to its 53 to 57% normal seeking SoC. The CT 200h incorporates numerous additional energy saving and environmentally-conscientious measures including LED lighting, an energy-efficient audio system amplifier and bamboo charcoal speakers, and the use of bio-sourced materials. Some of this can be found in something as large and obtrusive as the Ford Super Duty so we’ll have to step it up a bit to experience some real environmental credential improvements. The Package With a highly-focused driver’s environment,(I love that term, don’t you ), the new Lexus CT 200h has been developed to combine superior handling and a dynamic driving experience with the ride comfort expected of any Lexus. This I am going to say they will have knocked out of the park. Good road manners will be assure as will compliant ride. Spirited however may be a question mark because that 1.8L must roar to approach anything close to a spirited anything? The driver’s cockpit will “feature” a low driver’s seat with enhanced lateral and lumbar support, a sporting, wide grip steering wheel and a driver-focused instrument binnacle housing large, high-visibility, triple dials. It sounds like they took a page out of the Scion tC’s play book? The CT 200h benefits from a exclusively developed body, chassis and powertrain control system engineering applications designed to offer customers a choice of two distinct driving moods – Dynamic, or Relaxing - in conjunction with the full hybrid’s EV, ECO, NORMAL and SPORT, ‘on-demand’ drive modes. I love how ECO mode helps keep people from performing the 0 to 60 dance between lights but Sport mode in a 10-second car? That seems like “Pretty Average” mode in most everything else? Particular attention has been paid to promoting superior handling stability through the high structural rigidity of the bodyshell, a low center of gravity and the minimizing of the yaw inertia moment through the use of an aluminum hood, tailgate and bumper reinforcements. This is where the Toyota/Lexus guys do get it right. The road feel into the cabin is as isolated as being in an airplane at 35,000 feet during an earthquake. Lexus are impressive at this. The higher speed action of the platform however is still in question. Again, they may have borrowed some of the handling stuff from the new tC which actually handles remarkably well for a sub 20K Toyota. The two were really never spoke of in those terms but maybe things are different nowadays? The additional handling prowess comes from where again? Introduced for the first time on a Lexus in this segment, a unique lateral performance damper system has been designed to help absorb and minimize body vibrations, giving a linear steering feel and further enhanced ride comfort. The Lexus CT 200h features a bespoke suspension design which combines a proven, MacPherson strut front system with a new, fully-independent double wishbone architecture to the rear, offering superior levels of ride comfort, handling and package efficiency. I smell the HS’ isolation and the tC’s nature put together in the CT. I wonder how close or far off the mark we’ll be? Exterior Design I will not bore you with the Lexus PR inspired smoothly flowing language including “powerful”, “new evolution”, “unique L finesse”, design philosophy”, “refined elegance”, “sporting dynamism”,” highly distinctive”, “sharp-edged”, “resolute”, “unique aura”, “sweeping lines” and the list goes on and on. Do you think somebody spent way too much time in the Thesaurus last week trying to put this piece together? In reality, it looks decent enough for a hot hatch. Kind of like an ultra modern Toyota Matrix in fact. And I like the Matrix. The CT 200h’s cabin does include the superior ergonomics of Lexus’ advanced Human/Machine Interface technologies with hand-crafted premium quality materials but as far as spacious cabin is concerned, that description is really pulling the wool over the eyes of the reader as it is barely bigger than a Yaris with a hatch form factor that offers just 14.3 cu. ft. of luggage capacity. Safety - An area where Toyota really kicks @$$ The new CT 200h is equipped with Toyota’s entire array of safety technologies including the basic STAR system. N top of that, the CT 200h can be purchased with the “optional” pre-emptive, Pre-Collision Safety system incorporating Adaptive Cruise Control. Eight airbags including driver and front passenger knee airbags and Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats are fitted as standard, and an upgraded Electronically Controlled Braking-Regeneration system (ECB-R) incorporates Anti-Lock brakes (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and a hybrid version of the brake override system and something new that they call Smart Stop Technology? The HSD drivetrain is already pretty smart when it comes to stopping so I have no idea what safety feature this incorporates? An airbag deployment causing the engine to shut down until reset maybe? All in, Toyota is really applying a lot of PR effort into the launch of this vehicle and it will be well into next year before we see it in showrooms. Something smells funny about the push and I have to wonder is it just PR or do they have an ill-performing albatross on their hands and they need to gussie it up before the Journalists get a hold of it? Or may I am being overly harsh thanks in part to recently riding and writing up the review on the premiere Adventure Touring Bike in the world in the form of the 2010 BMW R 1200 GS that offered up 56 mpg while having a 0 to 60 time just a touch over 3-seconds? Jaded or just harsh reality setting in? You make the call?