FeaturesLexus CTh: First Generation

Future Forecast: The Lexus CT Hatchback

Lexus Future of CT

The Future Forecast is a new series that compiles recent analyst projections about the Lexus brand. In this first installment, we cover the CT hatchback.

The Lexus CT enters 2018 on uneven ground, as the model has been discontinued in North America despite receiving a new exterior refresh for other markets around the world. These mixed signals make it difficult to determine just what will happen to the hatchback.

Analysts at Just Auto believe the CT will be back in the USA & Canada within the next couple years, forecasting the next-generation will be introduced in 2019 as a 2020 model. This mirrors predictions from both Merrill Lynch and Automotive News, though the latter publication is less certain of the CT’s return to North America.

Just Auto recycles an older rumor in their forecast, claiming the CT will be offered as a five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan. This second variant is meant to generate more interest for the model in North America and (presumably) China. Just Auto also believes the turbocharged 2.0L engine from the NX 300 will find its way to the next-gen CT.


Lexus CT Hatchback

These changes, if true, will go a long way in addressing the weaknesses of the Lexus CT as a global vehicle. The lack of a non-hybrid powertrain and the hatchback design limited the CT’s appeal in the USA, even as it surged to become one of the best-selling Lexus models in Europe.

A second-generation CT is not without its challenges — as previous owner myself, it will take a significant reworking of the interior to line up with the radical designs of the LS & LC flagships. Along with that, Lexus has struggled to add engine options to their existing models, and this may continue to be an issue moving forward.

The final fly in the ointment is the upcoming UX subcompact crossover, which will bring an entry-level offering to the Lexus SUV lineup. Is there enough room in the Lexus lineup for two CT variants and the UX, at least in North America?


What do you think about these projections? Can you see Lexus releasing a new CT in 2019? How interesting is the idea of a four-door CT sedan? And how much power do you think the next-generation CT needs?

The renderings above are from Italian website Omniauto and Japanese magazine Best Car.

Comments
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  • November 21, 2017
From a strictly European point of view, the main weakness of the current CT in the 2018 restyling is the unavailability of the hybrid system of Prius IV, the same powertrain of Toyota CH-R. On the other side, UX was delayed, again... I'm a bit confused. Probably Lexus Europe is afraid of UX and CT damaging each other. About CT, a four doors sedan too seems too much, IMHO. I guess that 2018 CT will be the last one (everywhere), after the restyling and the update on safety systems, and it will be replaced by one model only, probably the UX. The availability of new features, as I remember in the case of Toyota Corolla in Italy (the current car is called Auris here), can be the last shot. I'm not so happy of this, but the general trend is towards small SUVs like UX.
A. D.
From a strictly European point of view, the main weakness of the current CT in the 2018 restyling is the unavailability of the hybrid system of Prius IV, the same powertrain of Toyota CH-R. On the other side, UX was delayed, again... I'm a bit confused. Probably Lexus Europe is afraid of UX and CT damaging each other. About CT, a four doors sedan too seems too much, IMHO. I guess that 2018 CT will be the last one (everywhere), after the restyling and the update on safety systems, and it will be replaced by one model only, probably the UX. The availability of new features, as I remember in the case of Toyota Corolla in Italy (the current car is called Auris here), can be the last shot. I'm not so happy of this, but the general trend is towards small SUVs like UX.
It is just an old model, new power train will come in new one.... But new facelift likely did mean 2019 as Target year for that.

Sedan is more about other markets where they sell, like Asia and USA
For the love of God this car needs NX interior at least to be considered premium product. NX interior is really nothing special to begin with but it's miles ahead current CT. At this point Mazda 3 has more coherent interior layout than CT. That center stack slope is a mess, buttons and knobs are thrown all over the place and it's not like this car has some advanced features so it needs more buttons. No, those are all basic function buttons on the stack and seat heating knobs are my absolute favorites, they are placed out there like an afterthought "oh we forgot to put these on".
Can you see Lexus releasing a new CT in 2019?
Overall, CT's future is in flux. The pivotal question is whether crossover SUVs will ultimately replace hatchbacks or if the two can coexist. There is no pat, one-size-fits-all answer.

To name but a couple of recent mass-market examples: Mazda figured that its subcompact B-segment CX-3 crossover could coexist with its hatchback counterpart, the Mazda2. The latest generation of the Mazda2 went as far as receiving U.S. EPA fuel economy certification and making its North American debut at the 2015 Montreal Auto Show. Yet, at the last minute, the Mazda2 was cancelled for the U.S. and Canada, while remaining on sale in other markets (including Mexico).

In another example, the 5-door hatchback version of the latest (5th-gen) Hyundai Accent will not be sold in the U.S. (the upcoming C-segment Kona crossover SUV will replace it), but both Accent 5-door and Kona will be sold side-by-side in Canada and other markets.

I think that Lexus will keep a sharp eye on what sort of reception UX gets and, above all, how UX affects CT sales in Europe and Japan. That will drive their decision on whether UX and CT can coexist or if UX cannibalizes CT sales to the point that renewing the latter is no longer viable.

Although the pundits predict a 2019 calendar year/2020 model year launch for the 2nd-gen CT, the 2018 second facelift probably buys Lexus another year beyond that to decide whether or not to create a 2CT hatchback.

How interesting is the idea of a four-door CT sedan?
Paradoxically, there is a rising trend in the U.S. towards luxury C-segment, FWD-centric 4-door sedans and coupes. The Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes CLA 4-door coupe have done reasonably well. There is also talk of a Mercedes A-Class sedan and BMW 1-Series sedan created primarily for China also making their way here. Perhaps A4 and CLA sales have flattened recently due to the crossover SUV juggernaut (I haven't really checked their sales numbers lately).

If nothing else, this would serve as a de facto replacement for the moribund HS sedan in Japan as well (a model whose days are believed to be numbered).

And how much power do you think the next-generation CT needs?
Me being of the Tim Allen "more power!" school, the only CT I'd consider is a CT F all-wheel-drive hatchback powered by, at a minimum, the 8AR-FTS 2-liter, 4-cylinder, 235 hp turbo engine. Even better if it has a proper 6-speed clutch-pedal manual. Better yet if it has an even more powerful derivative of the new Camry's A25A 2.5-liter Dynamic Force engine. Alas, I know that's all a pipe dream that's unlikely to be produced in this day, age and automotive climate.
To weigh in on my own questions, I think the CT is a future proof vehicle. After the surprising crossover boom, any smart manufacturer is going to try and cover all the bases.

A CT sedan has my interest peaked, though my life could never handle a subcompact sedan as a primary car. IS feels small now.

It’s going to take a lot of effort creating a CT that can sit alongside the LC & LS. The current CT is fun enough to drive, but that heavy hybrid power train weighs it all down too much.
If there will be a sedan, wouldn't it makes sense to rename the model to end with an S and call the hatchback variant "SportCross?" lol
It will depend on how good the Auris would become. After all, building a "premium" vehicle on an econobox isn't the best idea.

The problem with "premium compact vehicles" has always been the same: people are effectively paying more for the extra luxury compared to the high-end. For example, a $30,000 CT carries a 60% premium over the Auris ($19,000 Corolla iM). The $36,000 NX carries a 40% premium over the RAV4. While if you go to the $40,000 ES, the gap has reduced to 20% over the Avalon. The lower-end of the market is so crowded that you can easily get a better (and bigger) car for slightly more money, so such a big premium is almost never worth it. Why would anyone buy a CT vs. a Camry Hybrid? OK, the UX may suffer from the similar problem, but people will buy any crossover these days, so selling it won't be hard at all.

Also, the China-only FWD 1-series sedan is HORRIBLE (in quality and comfort) with an abysmal engine (the embarrassingly unreliable 1.5 I3). Despite its very low price I still see way more people in the 3-series LWB. The A3L is also less common than the A4L: this is in a market obsessed with sedans. I don't think a "CS" will appeal to a lot of people anywhere.
New CT needs to be an electric Leaf rival, but with more sporty design and better performance, or at least PHEV/RxEV, like Golf GTE and Chevy Volt. Not really interested in ICE anymore, unless it is a true SUV like a Land Cruiser/LX.
Levi
New CT needs to be an electric Leaf rival, but with more sporty design and better performance, or at least PHEV/RxEV, like Golf GTE and Chevy Volt. Not really interested in ICE anymore, unless it is a true SUV like a Land Cruiser/LX.
Good point. If Lexus is going to go beyond their conventional full hybrids and borrow the Toyota Prius Prime's plug-in hybrid powertrain or, better yet, pioneer Toyota's much-touted solid-state battery electric-only powertrain (rumored for around 2022), should CT or UX be the first Lexus-branded recipient?
By pulling the CT from North America and still selling it outside in different regions it follows the same path as the HS most likely never to return. If we do see a 2CT it will be for everyone else but North America. We can demand for it, we can plead with Lexus to bring it back but it might be very difficult to change the mind of Lexus. It would be great to have the current HS 250h with the new spindle grill, updated 2018 CT 200h and of course the IS 300h here in North America but not gonna happen. We can only dream.

Maybe Lexus should have introduced a gas version of the CT it probably would have done well or Lexus could have expanded the CT line with variant hybrids such as a CT 250h(2AZ-FXE), CT 300h(2AR-FXE) or even a CT 450h(2GR-FXE).

Lexus should expand hybrids in North America since they are the leader and others are following. By discontinuing the CT Lexus is lessening the awareness of Lexus hybrid only vehicles. All the current Lexus hybrids are just after thoughts based on it's gas version variant.
Trexus
Maybe Lexus should have introduced a gas version of the CT it probably would have done well or Lexus could have expanded the CT line with variant hybrids such as a CT 250h(2AZ-FXE), CT 300h(2AR-FXE) or even a CT 450h(2GR-FXE).
Lexus did, in fact, file trademarks for CT 300h and Ct 400h at the same time as CT 200h. Sadly, they never built the higher-powered CTs, and those trademarks were allowed to lapse and die.
Levi
New CT needs to be an electric Leaf rival, but with more sporty design and better performance, or at least PHEV/RxEV, like Golf GTE and Chevy Volt. Not really interested in ICE anymore, unless it is a true SUV like a Land Cruiser/LX.
No, Lexus' initial BEV launch should be a high profile one, preferably based on crossovers, which means UX (for EU) or NX (rest of the world). The CT is too forgettable for such an important launch. On the Toyota side, the first BEV is almost guaranteed to be a "Prius-e".
Joaquin Ruhi
Lexus did, in fact, file trademarks for CT 300h and Ct 400h at the same time as CT 200h. Sadly, they never built the higher-powered CTs, and those trademarks were allowed to lapse and die.
It appears Lexus could lose an opportunity with the CT. When Lexus brought the 1IS, IS 300 they followed up with 2IS with the IS 250 and IS 350 then the IS F. Lexus should follow up with a 2CT with a bang! We'll see what happens...
Levi
New CT needs to be an electric Leaf rival, but with more sporty design and better performance, or at least PHEV/RxEV, like Golf GTE and Chevy Volt. Not really interested in ICE anymore, unless it is a true SUV like a Land Cruiser/LX.
sales of BEVs are really low in general, so doing BEV CT would be bought by almost nobody.

For BEV, they need desirable cars to get people who get Tesla, otherwise it makes no sense at all.

In Europe, Golf GTE sells few thousand in countries with heavy incentives, and it is not an Audi by price either, so it would make very little sense to do a Lexus one right now.

Maybe new Auris PHEV for Europe eventually.

CTh will be around, just needs to be more desirable... they seem to have sorted more powerful powertrain from all the PRs in Europe, so thats handled... next up is making the vehicle desirable while still relatively affordable.
Interesting subject I think without an obvious answer. Where do lexus want to take the Brand - I think really upmarket then the CT is no longer relevant and its place should be filled by a Toyota branded model. I think there next move will be to introduce a model above and beyond the LS to compete with the top of the Range European models e.g. A Panamera estate like model or similar. I see Lexus purely as a brand builder luxury range and not a brand chasing sales Toyota does that very effectively. The IS range must move up way beyond the C class in terms of luxury offered, the new Camry is now a very effective competitor to the C Class type of cars and in fact offers more features and performance now for less money.
Rob Grieveson
Interesting subject I think without an obvious answer. Where do lexus want to take the Brand - I think really upmarket then the CT is no longer relevant and its place should be filled by a Toyota branded model. I think there next move will be to introduce a model above and beyond the LS to compete with the top of the Range European models e.g. A Panamera estate like model or similar. I see Lexus purely as a brand builder luxury range and not a brand chasing sales Toyota does that very effectively. The IS range must move up way beyond the C class in terms of luxury offered, the new Camry is now a very effective competitor to the C Class type of cars and in fact offers more features and performance now for less money.
Small cars (CT, A3, 1 Series, A Class) have the right to be premium, but then they should really be, and just a premium badge on a "cheap" product. Unfortunately better always means bigger.
I'm expecting the UX to kill off the CT. It will not be missed.....
BD
Black Dynamite!
I'm expecting the UX to kill off the CT. It will not be missed.....
BD
I already miss the CT.
krew
I already miss the CT.
TBH, I don't think Lexus dealers miss them as much lol

https://jalopnik.com/dead-lexus-ct200h-1795605528
Tragic Bronson
TBH, I don't think Lexus dealers miss them as much lol

https://jalopnik.com/dead-lexus-ct200h-1795605528
Yeah, but it's not my job to sell them. I'm just a hatchback admirer. :kissing_heart:

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