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