Toyota's push for greater 'emotional appeal' won't be limited to the world number one carmaker's volume-selling models, with luxury arm Lexus also looking to enhance its green and performance credentials.
Over time, Lexus' new hybrid models will be made up of new variants of existing models, along with a number of all-new hybrid-only models.
"We want to introduce it with each new model change," Toyota's Kiyotaka Ise told industry paper Automotive News this week.
"Compared to Mercedes or BMW, hybrid technology is a key application in the Lexus. That's the most easily understood difference in the brands."
Ise added that while the Lexus brand has largely been about "calm, stable luxury," future models would emphasise agility and response, "really feeling the braking and acceleration."
The 2011 Lexus CT 200h represents the first step towards Lexus' goals of combining performance with hybrid technology.
While specific output figures have not been revealed, the CT 200h is powered by a 1.8 litre VVT-i four-cylinder petrol engine combined with a rear-mounted electric-drive motor/generator.
Three driving modes are available: Eco, Normal and Sport - allowing the CT 200h to live up to its sporty styling. Suspension is managed by MacPherson struts up front and a double-wishbone setup with a lightweight trailing arm at the rear. At each corner sit 17-inch alloys.
Not to be left out of the revolution it helped start, Toyota is also developing new hybrid models for its regular range. The Japanese carmaker is planning to launch four new hybrids in the next two years, including a Yaris hybrid to compete with Honda's upcoming Jazz hybrid.