Details are emerging about Lexus’ compact car—according to Top Gear’s Foreman blog, the 1-series competitor will be a hatchback based on the Prius platform and only available as a hybrid:
A Prius is designed to get small-car economy from a bigger car. But Lexus hybrids all have higher performance than their standard counterparts.
Lexus has decided that it has to change its hybrid policy. The GS and LS hybrids aren’t making much headway. Andy Pfeiffenberger, Lexus chief in Europe, told Foreman, ‘Our hybrid saloons are going up against the V8 diesels in Europe. In future we need to compete against the four-cylinder diesels. So we will enter new sectors with low-displacement hybrids. The C-premium [i.e. Audi A3] segment is the fastest growing segment and we must be in it.’
No question, this model is Lexus’ biggest opportunity for the European market, where the brand is having a hard time establishing an identity. Depending on the driving dynamics and the price, and we might see Lexus’ first dominant European model.
The expectation is that the compact car will be debuting in concept form at this year’s Frankfurt autos show and available at European dealerships some time in late 2010. North American availability is unknown, though the rumor is that it will only be available in Europe.
[Source: Top Gear]