The littlest Lexus, the 2011 CT 200h five-door hybrid hatchback, will start showing up at U.S. dealers over the next couple of months.
It's clearly a different kind of Lexus--the perplexing "Darker Side of Green" ad campaign and its associated video proved that--but Lexus is using the new car to take it into new places. Including, in Australia, a hybrid-only racing series.
Before the upcoming Australian Grand Prix, to be held March 24, the CT 200h will be the featured ride for the Celebrity Challenge demonstration race on opening day. In the past, the organizers have used Mini Coopers and Fiat 500s.
No fewer than 27 Australian celebrities will vie for the honors in the single-lap race.
There won't be just a single laurel wreath or silver cup, though.
Organizers are planning to award two prizes, one for outright finishing position and the other for Index of Efficiency, a concept inspired by a similar measure at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in which the winner consumes the least fuel to get around the track.
Which leads to some ugly visions of competitors for the two different cups on the same track at the same time, one group foot to the floor and the other accelerating as if they had eggs under their shoes.
The EPA has rated the 2011 Lexus CT 200h at 42 mpg combined gas mileage, making it the most efficient Lexus model and better than the 2010 Lexus HS 250h dedicated hybrid sedan, which achieves 35 mpg city, 34 mpg highway.
2011 Lexus CT 200hEnlarge Photo
It debuted at the 2010 New York Auto Show, though it had been shown in Europe before that. It's expected to be a low-volume model for Lexus, the bulk of whose U.S. sales are made up of its RX midsize crossover utility vehicle.
[Lexus via Motor Authority]