The CT200h is being seen as critical for Lexus dealers in bringing fresh custom to their dealerships.
Andy Pfeiffenberger, head of Lexus Europe, described the new compact hybrid model as “the most important and accessible Lexus ever”.
“The car comes into what is the biggest segment in the premium market, accounting for about 25% of overall luxury car sales,” Pfeiffenberger said.
The car enters UK showrooms this month. It will cost from around £23,500, and will compete against the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. It offers 96g/km CO2 emissions, which will make it attractive for company car user-choosers. However, initial reviews in the motoring press suggest buyers would be better off with a 1 Series diesel.
Although it has remained at the top spot for customer satisfaction for 10 years, Lexus has been hard hit by a combination of the recession, exchange rates and a lack of premium compact car to attract down-sizing executives.
Its UK sales dropped by almost a third last year to give it a 0.36% total market share. This year that share has declined further to 0.33%.
“It certainly hasn’t reached its potential,” said Pfeiffenberger.
With the CT200h, Lexus dealers will have an opportunity to bring new customers into the brand. Their task will be to win their long-term loyalty through their award-winning levels of service and progress them into the brand’s more expensive models.