Slow-selling hatchback could be given a new lease on life

Lexus could keep the CT hatchback alive into a second generation, despite small volumes and the worlds insatiable desire for SUVs.

Speaking with Autocar, Lexus Europe boss Pascal Ruch said the ageing CT competes in a "very significant" segment.

“At the moment, I see the UX as delivering additional volume, not necessarily replacing the CT. We’ve just updated the CT, so we have at least two more years of sales to make an evaluation from. There is no rush to make a decision," Ruch told the British publication.

Just 84 CT200h buyers walked into a Lexus dealership Down Under last month, and registrations are sitting on just 343 for the whole of 2018. That puts it well behind the Audi A3 (2214 YTD over $40k) and BMW 1 Series (1335 YTD over $40k). Heck, even the Mercedes-Benz B-Class outsold it last month.

It's a similar story in the Europe, where it accounts for 10,000 of the brand's 75,000 annual sales. Despite the low numbers, Lexus sees the car as an entry point for new buyers, hopefully drawing them into a life of reliable Japanese luxury.

“Between 70% and 75% of buyers are new to Lexus, and that is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our qualities to customers. Of course I hope the UX [above] can deliver similar results, but they don’t have to be at the expense of the CT,” Ruch told Autocar. 

The new UX will face off against the BMW X2, Audi Q2 and Volvo XC40 when it arrives in Australia at the start of 2019. Lexus hoping it'll help push annual sales beyond the elusive 10,000-car barrier.

“Lexus can [now] compete in the luxury small-SUV segment, growing that category by attracting new, younger customers while offering an aspirational alternative to our long-standing customers," said Scott Thompson, Lexus Australia chief executive, when the UX was announced.