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.
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.