TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION HAS applied for several trademarks with the United States Patent Office, with the Japanese company registering the names "CT 200h", "CT 300h" and "CT400h".
The naming convention used suggests these badges are destined for a Lexus product and, with the CT prefix not currently worn by any existing models, odds are high that the much-rumoured mini-Lexus will sport the new name.
The new Lexus model will sit below the IS sedan and HS 250h hybrid (above) and go head-to-head with the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series in the increasingly-popular C-segment. The names in Toyota's patent application also hint that the new range will be hybrid-only, with Lexus reluctant to compete directly with the Europeans by bringing out a diesel powered model.
The entry-level Lexus model is expected to come in five-door hatchback form, and will likely be based upon the same platform as the Toyota Corolla (known as the Auris in the rest of the world).
The European-market Auris (above) has recently been confirmed to receive a hybrid powertrain, which would make development of a Lexus-bodied variant an easier exercise for the Japanese manufacturer.
Engine options for the small Lexus have yet to be confirmed, but expect a Prius-derived 1.8 litre four-cylinder, a 2.4 litre four-cylinder and a 3.5 litre V6 to be hooked up to a performance-optimised version of Toyota's hybrid drive system.
Expect more information to surface closer to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, where the new Lexus model is expected to make its debut.