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Lexus 1-Series: Europe-Only, Hybrid Only?

2009 Detroit auto show

2009 Detroit auto show

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Lexus has repeatedly refused to market a model below the $30,000 price point in the U.S., effectively saying it's beneath the brand. But in Europe, where luxury knows no bounds, extending well into the compact segment, a small and somewhat less-expensive model may be a key element in becoming competitive with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Perhaps that's why new reports are saying Lexus is developing a Euro-only model to fight it out with the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-series.

Toyota exec Tokuichi Uranishi revealed that Lexus could develop a new entry-level model for Europe to help reach its European sales target of 150,000 vehicles by 2015. The existence of a Europe-only small car plan was also confirmed last year by Lexus’ Australian chief John Roca.

The UK's Top Gear is now reporting that Lexus will have a concept version of its 1-Series rival on show at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show, ahead of a market launch due sometime next year. One major difference from the 1-Series it's targeting, however, is that the new Lexus model is expected to be a dedicated hybrid based on the 2010 Toyota Prius.

Designed to compete with Germany’s highly efficient four-cylinder diesel lineup, the new car will be a compact hatchback with front-wheel drive and should be priced below the current Lexus IS 220D. How much it will have in common with the 2010 Lexus HS 250h remains unsaid.


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