While you may lament yet another CUV hitting the market, Lexus needs a small car that sells in big numbers. Uyttenhoven told Autocar the brand aims to move 100,000 units per year in Europe to "give us visibility in the market." For 2016, European sales are on pace to hit just 70,000 units, with 10,000 of those coming from the CT 200h. He sees an opportunity for the right little Lexus based on the recent nature of the European luxury market.
According to Uyttenhoven, "a full 50 percent of the European luxury car market exists below the [$44,600] mark," and the only model Lexus has at that point is the CT. Put another way, the company has a remarkably slow seller as its sole representative for half of an entire continent's luxury market. Enter the crossover.
Replacing the CT with a crossover makes a great deal of sense. The body style is getting more and more popular by the day, especially in the sub-compact and compact markets. Adding a smaller model – below the current NX crossover but larger than the LF-SA concept shown in Geneva – would allow Lexus to challenge the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the BMW X1, and the Audi Q3.
We're betting the small crossover would use the Toyota C-HR as its basis and add a Lexus-correct heavily creased skin. Hybrid power is a given for the European market, where almost all Lexuses sold are gas-electric, but a conventional gas variant could join it in the US. That would give Lexus three hybrid CUVs in three popular sizes, alongside the NX and RX. With a forthcoming RX-based three-row on the horizon, the brand would have a full lineup of crossovers ready to take over the world. We'll miss the quirky CT when it goes, but it's hard to stop volume-driven progress.