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Zipping along the tight and twisty rural roads of France or negotiating the maze of diesel puffing Peugeots in Paris it doesn't seem to matter – my fuel economy that is. Regardless of the style of driving, the Lexus CT200h hatchback I'm behind the wheel of is registering just under 40-mpg, a few ticks short of the claimed 42-mpg average.

That number might not sound as impressive as some, but it is. While most automakers brag about their highway mileage and omit the city number, the CT200h hybrid is proud of both with a 42-city and 41-mpg highway rating that averages out to 42-mpg. By comparison, that average number (which is the one that really counts) is 8-mpg ahead of the CT's nearest competitor.

What might that be? Well, it's the Audi A3 TDI, a uniquely European Audi that's also offered here in the U.S. And while the CT will be sold in North America, targeted at cars like the A3, BMW 1 Series and Volvo C30, it's destined for far greater success on the Continent where those other models make up a significant segment of the market.

Historically, hybrid models have had very little success in Europe, while their popularity has spiked here at home. The opposite is true of diesels. There's an obvious irony here, as apart from major urban centers diesels make more sense in the U.S., while a hybrid powertrain seems best suited to European style driving.

A HYBRID BUILT FOR EUROPE

So why haven’t hybrids caught on in Europe? For starters, European automakers have been reluctant to adopt the technology and consumers have been equally skittish about buying non-EU cars. But Lexus believes there’s a bigger reason, namely, that no one ever offered a hybrid for Europe. Sure, automakers, (including Lexus and parent company Toyota), have offered hybrids in Europe, but not for Europe.

More: 2011 Lexus CT200h Review – First Drive on AutoGuide.com
 

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Built for Europe, I agree with that, but the CT200h will be more expensive than its european concurrents with the same performance. I'm not sure customers in that segment will be willing to sacrifice performance for fuel economy.
 
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