Despite offering a premium alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus or VW Golf, and despite being one of the few hybrids in the segment, it looks as if younger aspirational drivers are turning their backs on hatchbacks in favor of crossovers and SUVs.

So, for what could well prove to be the car‘s final production year (Lexus has already signaled its intention to withdraw the model from the US market), the company has decided to give it a sportier, more aggressive feel.

“The 2018 CT 200H has been refreshed and revitalized by enhancing its progressiveness. Despite being classified as a minor-change model, the car is more emotional and sporty than before, making it the ideal premium hybrid compact for younger customers who enjoy spirited driving, but still care about the environment,” said Chika Kako, the car’s Chief Engineer.

So, it gets the latest-generation Lexus spindle grille, but with a unique mesh pattern to help it stand out even from other Lexus models. There’s a new front bumper that essentially disappears into the front fascia so that the nose is more prominent and uncluttered and, thanks to new projector headlamps, the car’s vertical lines are also sharper and less cluttered.

At the back, new L-shaped taillights and new treatments to the rear bumper and rear windshield give the optical effect that the car is much wider while the option of 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels will give the car a lower, more potent stance.

Inside, the cabin is clean and uncluttered with a minimum of switchgear and a new infotainment system that can be specified with a widescreen 10.3-inch display. Lexus is offering owners an even wider selection of leather trim options, and a selection of eight surface veneers including bamboo.

Also making its way to the updated car for the first time is Lexus’s latest generation suite of active driver safety and assistance aids. This includes radar-guided cruise control, lane departure alert with steering wheel control function, automated headlight high beam function, and road sign recognition.

And, because Lexus is giving the entire range a sporty makeover, it has to go even further for the F Sport model. So, to ensure it is sufficiently different, visually, it’s getting a special black paint treatment on the grille and around the fog lamps, a set of 17-inch alloy wheels and a dedicated selection of two-tone leather finishes for the seats.

“The F Sport attracts younger customers, so we’ve strengthened the vehicle’s exclusive black items to reinforce its sporty nature,” said the car’s chief designer, Tetsuo Miki.

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