Lexus has released details about the four driving modes that will be included in its forthcoming CT 200h hybrid. The sporty compact is the second dedicated hybrid offering from the carmaker and is intended to boost the fun factor for luxury hybrid drivers—while still being capable of delivering fuel economy approaching the Toyota Prius’s 50 MPGs.
For the CT 200h, Lexus will essentially replace the Power mode found in its other dedicated hybrid, the HS 250h, with a new Sport mode which will be tooled towards maximum performance and handling. In Sport mode throttle is cranked up considerably, power control from the battery increases by about 15 percent, and the CT’s Electronic Power Steering is adjusted to be more responsive. Lexus will also make its Vehicle Stability and Traction Control systems more passive, allowing for more driver control.
These adjustments obviously cut into fuel economy, but much of the joy of owning a car like this isn’t so much the extra performance it provides in all driving situations but the knowledge that it’s there if you’re in the mood for it.
The three more efficient driving modes are called Normal, Eco, and EV. EV mode allows drivers to go all-electric for up to a mile—so long as the car is kept below 25 mph. Normal mode utilizes Toyota’s Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission, allowing the car to respond to changing driving conditions by instantaneously adjusting its gear ratios. Eco mode alters that formula to provide maximized fuel economy for gas-electric driving—slowing cabin cooling, limiting throttle and accelerating battery charging.
The CT 200h will essentially be smaller, more aerodynamic, 5-door hatchback version of the HS 250h—which had the same sized wheelbase as the Toyota Prius but dialed-down aerodynamics for the sake of a roomier, more luxurious interior—at the expense of about 15 MPGs of fuel economy. Lexus has essentially reversed that process for the CT 200h, with the result being a smaller, more efficient luxury small car that can still pack a punch when needed.
The car will hit dealerships in the United States early next year.