What is it?
An updated version of the Lexus CT200h, the petrol-electric hybrid hatchback which has quickly evolved into Lexus’s best-selling car in Europe since its introduction in 2011.
There are minor styling alterations - mostly to ensure that the brand’s ‘spindle’ grille design is synchronised across its lineup - but the bulk of the changes occur underneath, where the engineers have clearly been told to resolve some of the criticisms levelled at the old model.
To improve body rigidity, Lexus has broken out the structural adhesive and found space for 20 additional spot welds around the tailgate, allowing it to adjust the spring rates on the CT200h’s notoriously tough suspension. It has also introduced 94 separate measures to combat the car’s thoroughly un-Lexus like NVH problems, including improved sound deadening behind the dash and in the rear arches.
Although the standard powertrain remains basically unaltered - essentially the same 98bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine and 81bhp electric motor that powers the Toyota Prius - the CT200h’s transmission has been remapped for a more linear build-up of revs, in the hope that a more conventional and intuitive driving experience will result. Inside, there’s a new rotary remote touch control for the infotainment system, as well as a cheaper (£995) navigation option.
Finally, and best of all from a business users point of view, Lexus has managed to lower both the CO2 emissions and the car’s price tag. In base S grade spec (with 15-inch wheels) the CT200h is now £1000 cheaper and 5g/km cleaner at 82g/km CO2 - making it 4 per cent cheaper than most of its diesel-engined rivals on the all-important BIK banding. Even the more expensive F Sport grade driven here is £1250 cheaper than before and (on 17-inch wheels and frillier bodywork) still below the 95g/km, 11 per cent cut-off point for 2014/15