From £21,214
Compact Lexus hybrid has impressive kit, quality and mechanical refinement, but poor performance and ride disappoint.

Our Verdict

Lexus CT
The CT200h is Lexus’s first compact model

The Lexus CT200h is an appealing luxury hybrid hatch that’s spoiled by misjudged chassis settings

  • First Drive

    2014 Lexus CT200h F Sport first drive review

    Facelifted hybrid now rides better and has a lower price tag and CO2 emissions, but it still can't compete with the best diesels for economy
  • First Drive

    Lexus CT 200h SE-L

    Compact Lexus hybrid has impressive kit, quality and mechanical refinement, but poor performance and ride disappoint.

What is it?

The world’s first luxury compact hatchback hybrid - and it has finally landed in Britain. As of March 1st, Lexus began delivering examples of the CT200h here, mostly to fleet drivers keen to reap the benefits of low company car tax, and to drive a Lexus for little more than a well-equipped volume family hatchback.

Running the same powertrain as the latest Toyota Prius, a 1.8-litre, 98bhp Atkinson cycle petrol engine mated to an 81bhp, 153lb ft electric motor, the CT200h produces a maximum 134bhp at 5200rpm via the front wheels. It’s slow by premium compact class standards: 62mph takes 10.3sec to come up, and maximum speed is 112mph. The trade-off, aside from those tax-saving low emissions, is claimed economy of almost 70mpg.

See pics of the Lexus CT 200h SE-L in action

What’s it like?

This new upmarket five-door has more going for it than fleet-targetted value for money. The quality and richness of its cabin materials are top-notch. Although one or two switches and stalks seem identical to those that you’d find on a Toyota Prius, you can’t fail to be impressed by the upmarket ambiance and attention-to-detail of this interior, both of which are remarkable at this price point.

The general feeling of plush luxury continues when you move off in the CT200h: noise and vibration insulation is excellent. Move off gently, under electric power alone, and refinement is limo-like, and even when the petrol engine starts at 28mph, there’s little added disturbance of the peace.

If you’re in more of a hurry, the car’s manners aren’t nearly so hushed, however. With lots of throttle, the CT200h’s continuously variable transmission makes that petrol engine spin away at consistently high rpm, shattering the quiet. And even then, although the car can feel quite responsive when its electric motor is chiming in, acceleration is still modest. You have to work this powertrain uncomfortably hard to pick up speed quickly.

And whether you’re moving along particularly quickly or not, you’ll notice a restless lack of compliance in the CT200h’s chassis that seems curious. This isn’t a performance car, after all, but Toyota has given it hot hatchback level chassis settings in order to make it decidely different to drive than the Prius – a car with which comparisons are unavoidable. That means the CT200h is unexpectedly precise and agile through smooth-surfaced corners, and is almost immune from body roll. But it also means that the car doesn’t ride with the kind of comfort or composure that befits a compact luxury option.

Should I buy one?

The CT200h is a car with a great deal going for it. Leaving dynamic considerations aside, it would be a very satisfying car to spend time in, a cheap car to run and a surprisingly affordable one to lease.

But you should certainly drive one before letting your fleet manager talk you into ordering, because whether you already drive a hybrid or not, you’re unlikely to be totally convinced with the way this Lexus drives. If you’re a Prius driver trading up, you may well be disappointed by this car’s shortage of ride comfort. And if you’re giving up a more conventional diesel-engined fleet car, we dare say you’ll still find the performance compromises that the CT200h imposes too much to bear.

Lexus CT200h SE-L

Price: £25,200; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.3sec; Economy: 68.9mpg; Co2: 94g/km; Kerbweight: 1410kg; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls in line, 1798cc, Atkinson cycle petrol; with electric assistance; Power: 134bhp at 5200rpm; Torque: 257lb ft at 2800-4400rpm; Gearbox: CVT

Join the debate

Comments
38

10 March 2011

I didnt even have to read the review to put me off this car.I think it looks dreadful wouldnt be seen dead in one.Ihope Lexus are not reading this,might give them an idea for an estate version that could be used as a hearse :(

10 March 2011

What is it with Toyota's inability at their design department?? They need a revolution. Myabe they should hire Chris Bangle. ANyway, it can't get worse than at the actual state of things

10 March 2011

10 March 2011

SE-L... same name of most revered models in Mercedes' history...

10 March 2011

The colour is awful and that really does not help the slightly bland looks. It is overpriced and it's main competitor is the Pirus which I think is better looking and much better value. Interesting that the word "fleet" kept coming up and nothing about the private buyer.

Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series in derv form do much more for much less an Audi 1.6TDi Sportback Sport is 21K or 19K with a discount add maybe 2K to bring the specs in align same for a BMW 116D.

10 March 2011

Nice interior. At £25k it should have. The exterior is ultra bland.

Where has all Japanese design went to?

jer

10 March 2011

"certainly drive one before letting your fleet manager talk you into ordering"

Honestly in the real world ordering a company car does not work like that anymore. I remember my long retired father tallking in similar terms about ordering a car and the fleet manager.

I sat in one last week. I could only get my legs under the steering wheel at it's highest point. It felt a bit like I was wearing a giant comedy Goofy costume, too small for real people. After adjusting the front seat there was no leg room in the back whatsoever . I'm 6.3" not exactly a freak of nature.

The interior was striking I loved the design the materials and the general ambience, sophisticated but warmer than say a Merc. I'd like to see more in other Lexus.

10 March 2011

[quote Autocar]

What is it?


The world’s first luxury compact hatchback hybrid - and it has finally landed in Britain. As of March 1st, Lexus began delivering examples of the CT200h here, mostly to fleet drivers keen to reap the benefits of low company car tax, and to drive a Lexus for little more than a well-equipped volume family hatchback.


Running the same powertrain as the latest Toyota Prius, a 1.8-litre, 98bhp Atkinson cycle petrol engine mated to an 81bhp, 153lb ft electric motor, th...Read the full article

[/quote] Inside good, outside BAD. The Prius is so attractive it would be a better choice for "Greens".

10 March 2011

It never ceases to amaze me that a manufacturer such as Toyota can look at a car like this and release it for market, satisfied. This is a tough market to compete in, considering the options from BMW and this product just doesn't seem to be good enough.

Forget the badge, interior aside if I were in the market for this sort of vehicle then I'd save a good chunk of my company car allowance and go for a top spec Auris Hybrid.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

10 March 2011

Agree, the Auris hydrid makes more sense; even it's interior is less of an ergonomic mess than that of the Lexus.

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