THE CT 200h HATCHBACK

Noting the evolution of a young, environmentally conscious customer in search of luxury, Lexus's compact hybrid car pioneered luxury eco-technologies.

In 2010, when Lexus launched the CT 200h hybrid hatchback, it was a roaring success. With the Japanese brand now revered among motoring experts, manufacturers and owners of luxury cars across the globe, it was time to attract a new clientele.

"It is a very important model,"" then-chief engineer Osamu Sadakata, who was in charge of developing the CT 200h, told the Business Times in an interview in 2011. As the first premium compact hybrid segment of its kind - or indeed of any kind - the CT 200h was part of a bold move on the company's part to attract a new and younger group of buyers to the brand: "Those who are environmentally conscious but don't want to lower their high standards," Sadakata explained.

The car was conceived three years earlier, in 2007, in response to public demand, when target users told Lexus they wanted a sporty, compact hatchback.

Mainly aimed at the European market, followed by Asian countries such as Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, as well as the United States, the model also targeted so-called empty nesters.

In a first for both Lexus and the auto industry as a whole, the speaker diaphragms were made from a complex compound that combined bamboo charcoal, bamboo fibre and resin, offering a clearer and more natural sound reproduction. Meanwhile, by eliminating transmission noise and striking a balance between fun and comfort, Lexus once again hit the mark. Sadakata told Automotive Design and Production magazine:

Enjoyment of driving is what I want owners to experience, true driving enjoyment - to cater to all the senses and personalities.