The 2011 Honda CR-Z was meant to be the car that showed hybrids could be sporty as well as green, but sadly, its lowly 122 horsepower and dismal 0-60 times meant it was never going to be taken seriously in performance circles. Fortunately, there’s another hybrid vehicle on the horizon that may live up to the challenge. The car is the 2011 Lexus CT 200h, which is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. early next year.
Hybrid power, low emissions and high fuel efficiency: it’s not the kind of equation that suggests the kind of sharp and sporty handling that Lexus claims owners of the CT 200h will be able to experience.
The key, however, is the chassis refinements that Lexus engineers have installed in the new hybrid hatchback. The list includes lateral performance dampers, components that, until now, have largely been the preserve of a very few high-performance models. Lexus has used the damping technology as an effective way of increasing torsional rigidity, both front and rear, suppressing vibrations and contributing to ride comfort without the penalty of extra weight.
The damper design is like that of a monotube shock absorber. Used in place of conventional rigid bracing, they are deployed between the front suspension towers, and at the rear across the lower back panel.
As for the powertrain, the car comes with a 1.8-liter gasoline engine and a hybrid drive system. It features four selectable drive modes: ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and EV. In electric-only mode, the CT 200h is capable of traveling up to 28 mph for 1.2 miles. Additionally, combined with the lateral damping system, plus the electric motor's torque hitting down low and all the power from the gasoline unit up high, the CT 200h should prove interesting to drive hard.