From £21,214
We couldn’t recommend the CT200h as even a pale substitute for its rivals

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.
25 September 2010

What is it?

The world’s first compact premium hybrid if that’s not too much of a mouthful. Lexus is convinced that marrying the powertrain from the Prius to a new platform will give it a key advantage in the battle for the hearts and minds of those traditionally drawn to the likes of the BMW 1-series and Audi A3.

And it has loads of numbers to back up this contention: class leading economy and emissions and, of course, Nox and particulate emissions no diesel car could look at.

See first drive pics of Lexus CT200h SE-I

Like a Prius it will run on electricity alone but, as yet at least, there remains no sign of the plug-in version with its lithium ion batteries which all the smart money now says forms the bulk of the short to medium term future of hybrids.

What’s it like?

It depends. If you want a small executive car that’s as cheap or cheaper to run than any other – regardless of whether you measure it by fuel consumption, company car tax, vehicle excise duty or congestion charges – there’s none better.

The CT200h may not be quite as outstandingly frugal as its figures suggest but these days very few cars are. But when you drive it the sense that it’s watching your pennies even more closely than you are in inescapable.

Of course this is both good and bad. The problem with the CT200h is that it’s never better than dull to drive.

The Prius powertrain has been tweaked ever so slightly to promote smoothness and provide a bit more electrical shove in sport mode

But this is still a startlingly slow car: where it needs more than 10sec to hit 62mph, a BMW 118d needs less than 9sec while it’s 112mph top speed means acceleration at the top end is desperate. The BM will hit 130mph.

Nor does it handle that well, despite bespoke double wishbone rear suspension and clever lateral shock absorbers that damp out body vibration.

It goes where you point it but there’s no feel through the wheel, no direct response to the accelerator and, resultingly, not much fun to be had.

But at least the interior lives up to Lexus aspirations. The quality of the materials used is impressive and the list of standard goodies suggesting a level of generosity not implied by the rather high list price.

Nor can you quibble with the cramped rear cabin or small boot, not if you’re coming out of a BMW 1-series at least.

Should I buy one?

If trading environmental statistics adds up to good banter down your way, you’ll be the toast of the town. More seriously if you want a well built, cheap to run premium small executive car whose dealers complete with the legendary Lexus aftersales service, there is much to commend it.

But if the requirement that your car be quick or even reasonably brisk sits anywhere on your priority list, avoid. Likewise it will leave your thirst to enjoy yourself behind its wheel entirely unquenched.

From where we sit a BMW 118d is hardly an environmental criminal and so much better is all the areas most important to readers of a title like this, we couldn’t recommend the CT200h as even a pale substitute.

But in the admittedly unlikely event you’re reading this but dreaming of driving a posh Prius, we could not recommend it too highly.

Lexus CT200h SE-I

Price: £26,996; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.3sec; Economy: 68.9mpg (combined); CO2: 96g/km; Kerb weight: 1370kg; Engine: 4cyl, petrol-electric hybrid; Power: 134bhp; Torque: 281lb ft (electric motor), 193lb ft (petrol motor); Gearbox: CVT auto

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Comments
44

29 September 2010

When Lexus promissed us a 'sporty' drive i was sceptical that any car with a cvt could do sport. Yet it seems what lets this down as well is the chassis. That is unforgiveable given that the chassis has nothing to do with the hybrid technology. I wonder if they will offer a larger engine still conected to the hybrid transmission? At least it might provide some of the missing performance.

Although the top of the article has price TBA, at the end you sugest this thing is £27,000!!! How much for How slow? Is the lexus badge really worth that much on such a poor car?

29 September 2010

Personally I do not see a top speed of 112mph as a problem - unless you're intent on losing your licence or want to use it as pub talk oneupmanship. Chassis wise I disagee with the findings, I have driven it back to back with the A3 and 1 Series, whilst not up there with the 1 series it was leagues ahead of the A3. The CVT is a disappointment, especially as non EU cars have the option of paddle shifters and a set of "pre-set" ratios to use as an alternative to the full-auto mode. I know the pricing and it will be competitive.

29 September 2010

[quote Andy665]Personally I do not see a top speed of 112mph as a problem - unless you're intent on losing your licence or want to use it as pub talk oneupmanship. Chassis wise I disagee with the findings, I have driven it back to back with the A3 and 1 Series, whilst not up there with the 1 series it was leagues ahead of the A3. The CVT is a disappointment, especially as non EU cars have the option of paddle shifters and a set of "pre-set" ratios to use as an alternative to the full-auto mode. I know the pricing and it will be competitive.[/quote] You may not see the Lexus having a problem but I am certain people using their money or their employers money will opt instead for a BMW 1 or 3 series diesel car instead. For the price of this Lexus you could have a BMW 320d.

29 September 2010

So, Toyota effectively has 3 hybrids that are in the same class, but all are unrelated with the exception of their drivetrain. I could understand the Prius being unique, but as the CT appears to have a FWD platform, why not base it on the Auris and cut costs? Lexus can't blame unique rear suspension as the reason.

And as for the CT's looks, i don't think Alfa has anything to worry about. Definitely the munter in an otherwise atrractive looking Lexus line-up.

29 September 2010

sum up: posh Toyota

the relentless pursuit of poshness

jer

29 September 2010

Agreed nice interior. I deduce Autocar are coming off the fence and saying indubitably that Hybrid tech without Lithium ion trails significantly other green options and to buy one you care more about the how green people think you are, than either the quality of the drive or how green you are in reality?

29 September 2010

[quote Lanehogger]why not base it on the Auris and cut costs? Lexus can't blame unique rear suspension as the reason.[/quote] I think it is based on the Auris, as its 2.2 diesel version has DW at the rear.

29 September 2010

Should have come with a slightly larger engine and more sporty settings, even a Sport button that would increase power and performance when not tootling about in town would have helped. Be interested to see hwta other reviews come up like but was hoping for a more sporty car that would appeal to a wider audience not the more usual older person that Lexus attracts.

29 September 2010

What an ugly car! I'd rather save some money and have an Auris. And thats saying something!

29 September 2010

At the suggested price of £26,996 its very difficult to imagine who would buy one. Its not going to be a big seller, and its likely they will suffer heavy depreciation in the first 12-months. Clearly not a car designed for the UK market, BMW/ Audi have nothing to worry about.

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