With the addition of the Lexus “spindle grille,” the 2014 Lexus CT 200, Lexus’ hybrid five-door sedan becomes the final model to adopt the unique if not universally adored styling element. But the hourglass-shaped grille makes it one of the Lexus family.
Introduced at the Guangzhou Motor Show premiere in China, it’s part—though a particularly noticeable one—of a mid-generational facelifting of the CT 200h, which also includes other, less significant exterior changes, updating interior features and trim, and some structural and suspension changes that improve the 2014 Lexus CT 200h overall.
Specifically, the Lexus designers have pushed the grille further than it has been on other Lexus models, with the center moved forward “to create a powerful, more three-dimensional form.” To make the CT 200h look lower and wider, the bottom corners are spaced wider and the spindle ‘pinch point’ was dropped.
The other exterior changes include a reshaped rear bumper for a wider look, and L-shaped reflector housings incorporated on the bumper’s bottom corners. A black lower center section will make the 2014 Lexus CT 200 easily spotted from behind. We’ll have to see it before passing judgment, but an allegedly “sporty black roof” is optional for “a unique two-tone look.”
A change in front of the driver all the time is the option of a 4.2-inch TFT (Thin Film Transistor) with the standard Optitron gauges. The screen will be linkable to the car’s multimedia system.
The audio system receives an upgrade as well: Appropriate to the debut’s location, the world’s first bamboo loudspeakers. The speakers, actually using just bamboo fiber, along with plant opal and charcoal are created via an injection molding process to create what Lexus calls the industry’s thinnest loudspeaker diagram. The payoff is, says Lexus, noticeably improved sound quality.
And of course the 2014 Lexus CT 200 has new interior colors and trim available.
Under the visible stuff, Lexus is now giving the chassis of the 2014 CT 200h more spot welds and more extensive used of structural adhesives, adding enough rigidity for changes to suspension tuning. Coil spring rates, shock absorber valving and rear stabilizer bar diameter were changed, allowing, says Lexus, no change in ride comfort while maintaining handling agility.
The Lexus CT 200h F Sport returns as the sporty version of the Lexus CT 200h, it gets changes in line with the other F Sport models in the Lexus lineup. The grille, for example, gets a mesh treatment similar to that of the Lexus IS F Sport. The rear spoiler atop the rear hatch is slotted for more downforce, says Lexus, and inside, the CT 200 F Sport gets its own trim options, including seats with synthetic leather bolsters and a cloth center section.
Unfortunately, there’s no more power for the F Sport, and in fact, it shares the new inlet duct design of the other 200h models which is more efficient and also quieter. That’s not particularly sporty, but we don’t quite know what we’d do to a Toyota/Lexus hybrid to make it sound sportier.
At least the 2014 Lexus CT 200 F Sport has the sporty look, and with the new grille, when the 2014 Lexus CT 200 shows up for family portraits, no one has to ask, is he really one of the family?