Post Feb. 23
If It Looks and Talks Like A Duck, Is It Still A Sweet Ride?
The end of January was my informal Christmas time – auto show season 2011! After going to this year’s Philadelphia auto show, many thoughts and questions raced through my head, like I was in a candy store trying to decide on that one piece I could pick out as a kid. As dramatically as the automotive landscape has changed over the past decade, so have the offerings from manufacturers for loyal customers and those individuals they’re trying to bring into the fold. Players like Lexus, BMW, and Audi have entered or even created new niche markets with vehicles like the Lexus CT200h, BMW X6 and the Audi A7, that stray from your father’s cookie cutter Buick of yesteryear.
While I can’t gripe much, as a very satisfied owner of an Audi A6 at the moment, I can’t help but to wonder about the thought behind these niche vehicles. The Lexus CT200h, in particular, sparks a great deal of curiosity in me. It’s a hatchback design being primarily targeted at generation Y’ers and features the same hybrid engine found in the Toyota Prius, but with a much more aggressive design and the luxury amenities I’d expect in a Lexus. Despite it’s – dare I say it - “sporty” looks, the car only manages to get to 60 mph in a leisurely 9.8 seconds, though it does return 42 mpg doing so. Identity crisis, much?
Ultimately, the CT200h is a hodgepodge of different approaches thrown together in the automotive design blender – useful hatchback cargo space, Prius-like gas mileage and performance, and Lexus luxury. It seems that their thought is to target a younger market segment where function holds greater weight to per(form)ance. Is it enough for me to turn in the keys to my ‘das auto’ meticulously crafted in Germany? Probably not. You see, there is a great amount of intangible satisfaction that I get from my current car’s performance and engine growl that I’m just not willing to give up for a few more MPGs and silent electric ride. With gas expected to be hovering around $4 per gallon this summer, I may be more inclined to reconsider this vehicle. But for now, Lexus can keep their multiple personality plagued CT200h.