Lexus CT 200h Hatchback (2010 - ) review
Read the Lexus CT 200h hatchback (2011) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The Lexus CT 200h is immediately recognisable as a Lexus with its mix of angular lighting, chrome trimmings and bold, silver and blue L badge on the grille. The rearmost side windows give the appearance of joining the rear windscreen for a one-piece look. The CT 200h has been designed to slip through the air, and is among the most aerodynamic in its class. All models come with alloy wheels.
The cabin has a solid and upmarket feel, which is rare in a mid-sized family hatchback. The soft-touch plastics and metallic finishes are handsome, and Lexus’ designers have managed to provide a feeling of space, yet make the driver feel cocooned. The instrumentation is exceptionally clear, and the controls are logically positioned. Lexus has fitted its computer mouse-like controller to operate the sat-nav. We found it intuitive to use, while others find it overly complicated so try before you buy. The entry-level SE-I model comes with fabric seats that look at odds with the Lexus’ upmarket image. All other models get leather trim.
There is adequate space in the front for two adults, but room in the back is more compromised, with head and leg room restricted for taller passengers. Storage space around the cabin is on par with rivals. The boot measures 375 litres which is more than the BMW 1 Series and about the same as the Audi A3. The rear seats fold flat to create 965 litres and there’s additional space beneath the boot’s false floor.
Ride and handling
Lexus bills the CT 200h as a sporty alternative to the Toyota Prius, and a sport dial which sharpens up the driving experience is evidence of this. The steering is nicely weighted, but it feels numb and doesn’t inspire as much confidence at speed as its key rivals, the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. The ride is also hard, and although it doesn’t crash over bumps, the vibration is transmitted into the cabin rather sharply. The engine is quiet when cruising, but more noisy when pushed hard, mainly due to the way the CVT automatic gearbox allows the engine to stay at high revs.
One power source is available in the Lexus CT 200h: a 1.8-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. It produces 134bhp, which allows the car to accelerate to 62mph in 10.3 seconds before reaching a top speed of 112mph. Three power modes are offered: Eco, Normal and Sport, the latter of which provides the most power. The CT seems happiest at urban speeds where the instant power transfer through the automatic CVT gearbox is most effective. At higher speeds the engine feels like it is working hard as the rev counter climbs to the top and stays there.
Cost of ownership is the Lexus CT 200h’s trump card. It is exceptionally well equipped for the money, with a comparable BMW 1 Series costing an extra £1,690 for a comparable model. That helps buyers as well as company car drivers who can expect to see their tax bill roughly halved by choosing the Lexus rather than the BMW. The hybrid powertrain emits 94g/km which means it is exempt from road tax as well as the London Congestion Charge. Although we couldn’t come close to the claimed 68.9mpg on our test, with a slight change of driving style a figure of almost 51mpg was achieved.
Few manufacturers have such a reputation for reliability as Lexus, which is backed up by more than ten customer satisfaction awards. The technology has already been proven in the Prius, and first impressions are that the car has been built to a high standard.
Lexus has designed the CT 200h to score a full five-star rating in the EuroNCAP crash tests. Eight airbags are fitted as standard, as are whiplash-reducing seats, anti-lock brakes, Brake Assist, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control. Top-of-the-range models can be specified with Pre-Crash Safety which detects obstacles and warns the driver before taking avoiding action if a crash is imminent.
Three models are offered: SE-I, SE-L and SE-L Premier and all are well equipped. All models feature tyre pressure monitoring, electrically retractable mirrors, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, climate control and LED daytime running lights. SE-L models add leather upholstery and heated front seats. Top-spec SE-L Premier models also feature a 13-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, DVD changer, sat-nav, electric seats and full LED lighting.
Many will buy the Lexus CT 200h for its green credentials, but most will enjoy the low cost of ownership, with a zero rate of road tax for buyers and low company car tax bills for fleet drivers.