Lexus CT 200h Hatchback (2017 - ) review
The Lexus CT 200h is a premium hybrid hatchback that offers an alternative to non-hybrid rivals like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.3
The CT 200h is a stylish, well-made and comfortable hatchback, but it’s beginning to show its age in a few areas and it's not great to drive. Still, if a zingy driving experience isn’t a priority for you then its very pleasant interior and hybrid capabilities could appeal. That would make it an alternative to other premium, non-hybrid hatchbacks that would be worth checking out.
- Sharp looks
- Great quality interior
- Good reliability record
- Some elements feel pretty dated
- Not great to drive
- No plug-in hybrid option
Interested in buying a Lexus CT 200h?
How good does it look?
The CT 200h is getting on a bit in years now, but still cuts a smart shape with a traditional hatchback look, combined with 17-inch alloy wheels on every model.
The standard CT comes with rear parking sensors, while the F Sport model has dark-coloured alloys, lowered suspension and some extra sporty bodywork. The top-of-the-range Takumi version has parking sensors at the front and back and bright LED headlights.
What's the interior like?
Build quality is generally good, but the interior of the CT 200h feels dated, being little changed from the car’s introduction in 2011. The infotainment system looks good and is presented well, but there’s no touch screen option, the joystick controller is fiddly to use, and there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Still, the seats are comfortable, and the driving position is pretty good, with plenty of adjustability in both seat and steering wheel.
How practical is it?
Practicality is reasonable, but not amazing. Rear headroom is ok but leg room is tight, especially if you have a taller driver or front seat passenger. The boot is on the small side too, thanks to the battery location under the boot floor.
The front door pockets aren’t the largest, but nicely shaped to accept a water bottle. But the central cupholders are among the best we’ve seen, with plenty of space for cups, bottles or flasks of varying sizes. That might not be a quote that’ll make Lexus’s marketing materials, but if you’re on the road a lot, it’s a welcome plus.
What's it like to drive?
There’s no getting around it; the ride quality on the CT 200h is disappointing harsh, and especially so when you consider the badge it’s wearing. Lexus has a reputation for quality and comfort, but there’s far too much crashing and bashing making its way from the road to the occupants through the overly stiff suspension. The steering is on the heavy side, which on the one hand gives an impression of solidity and stability on the move, but on the other makes manoeuvring more of an effort than some would like. The handling itself is competent, but if you’ve any hopes of the CT200h offering a level of sportiness and engagement then you’ll be disappointed. It feels heavy in the bends and doesn’t respond well to being pushed.
How powerful is it?
The CT200h is only available with one source of power, which is a 1.8-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor and an automatic gearbox. The result is an experience that will return decent fuel economy, but the engine makes a heck of a noise when it’s working hard, and the unusual gearbox – known as a continuously variable transmission – doesn’t help, sending it into a high-pitched whine as it tries to eke more power out.
The juggling of electric power, petrol power and recharging to the battery is carried out well by the car’s computer – and you can watch it working on the infotainment screen – but the overall experience feels unrefined. That said, when the CT 200h runs around town in electric mode, it’s much more positive, with silent operation and seamless transition into petrol power when needed. However, when you compared it to something like Volkswagen’s Golf GTE, it comes up very short in terms of range and refinement. It’s also not a plug-in hybrid, which means you can’t top up the battery from a mains supply.
How much will it cost me?
In terms of rivals, you’re looking at other premium-end hybrid cars, like the Volkswagen Golf GTE, but more conventional hatchbacks like the BMW 1 Series or Audi A3. The Lexus is generally a fraction more to buy than its traditionally-powered rivals, but considerably cheaper than the Golf, although it should be pointed out that the Golf has more power and can be plugged in to recharge the battery, unlike the Lexus. That should give the Volkswagen considerably better fuel economy, depending on how its driven. Although the CT 200h benefits from good fuel economy and low CO2 figures compared to a similarly-priced A3 or 1 Series, Lexus resale values aren’t as strong as either Audi or BMW. Servicing costs are likely to be broadly similar to its rivals. Overall, don’t expect to make massive savings on account of its hybrid power
How reliable is it?
Lexus shares an excellent reliability record with its sister company Toyota, with which it also shares much of its technology. The 2017 JD Power vehicle Dependability Study puts Toyota in sixth place overall, and Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index places Lexus towards the top of the manufacturer rankings. Should anything go wrong with your CT 200h, Lexus offers fairly standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
How safe is it?
The CT 200h scored the maximum five stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP, but that was way back in 2011 when it was first launched, and standards have moved on since then. However, the revised version, released in 2017, does feature as standard automatic emergency braking and a land keep feature to stop you straying out of your lane by mistake. Isofix child seat mounting points are on the two outer rear seats, and all models have front, head, side and knee airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
All models have adaptive cruise control and dual-zone air conditioning, as well as satellite navigation and reversing camera. The F Sport model adds sports seats with fabric upholstery and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, while the Takumi model has an upgraded Mark Levinson sound system with 13 speakers and leather seats.
Options include a range of packs, with different packs available for different trims. The standard CT can be specced with the Sport Pack (black alloy wheels and a different interior trim), a Premium Pack (front parking sensors, keyless entry, heated front seats) or the Tech Pack (upgraded infotainment system and LED headlights). Meanwhile the F Sport model can have a Convenience Pack (parking sensors and keyless entry), the Tech Pack, the F Sport Leather Pack (fancier leather seats) or the Takumi Pack, which comprises the Convenience, Tech and F Sport Leather packs, as well as a sunroof and the upgraded stereo. But obviously, all these will add to the cost.
If you’re after a stylish luxury hatchback with a premium interior and a pricetag below some other hybrid rivals, then the CT is worth checking out. It’s not perfect, and it’s beginning to show its age, but if you’re set on petrol-electric power then it’s an obvious one for the shortlist.