It’s one of Lexus’ most important models ever and enters previously un-trodden territory. James Batchelor reports
WHAT IS IT?
It’s the world’s first full hybrid in the premium compact sector. In other words it’s Lexus using its much admired and tested hybrid drive, slotted into a medium-sized hatchback, and garnished with all the luxury and refinement of more expensive Lexus cars. It’s going to be the most popular Lexus ever, with some dealers saying the car will account for 50 per cent of their sales.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
The main provider of the power is the 98bhp 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to an 81bhp electric motor through a ‘hybrid transaxle transmission.’ What all of this actually means is that the CT 200h only produces 94 g/km of CO2 resulting in free road tax and London congestion charge, and qualification for the 10 per cent benefit-in-kind company car tax.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?
The CT follows in its bigger brothers’ footsteps by being luxuriously appointed and generously equipped. Lexus is making a big thing of the CT being £1,500 cheaper than an equivalent A3 or 1 Series but the now- essential sat-nav is a costly extra on the mid-grade SE-L model and lesser SE-I. There are three trims: £23,485 for SE-I, £25,200 for SE-L, and £30,635 for SE-L Premier.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the CT 200h is closely related to that other eco-hatchback – the Toyota Prius. That means a relaxing 0-60mph time of 10.1 seconds, a leisurely top speed of 112mph and even more leisurely acceleration. When Sport mode is engaged, a tad more power is available but the chassis is not geared up for enthusiastic driving and nor is the numb steering.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK OF IT?
Auto Express wasn’t too impressed with the CT 200h’s styling saying that it was both ‘bland and fussy’. However, the magazine added its low emissions would make it a strong seller. Autocar was of a similar view believing that the low ownership costs would make it a winner with company car drivers, but said its ‘one-dimensional’ drive-train was out of step with drivers used to modern diesels.
WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?
There’s no denying that the CT 200h is an impressive package in an otherwise boring market. The car is far more posh than its Prius cousin, but that family relationship also means that the CT is not that enjoyable to drive. Impressive ownership costs will make the car appealing, but if customers are interested in driving, the faster but slightly costlier BMW 118d is far more tempting.