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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The most pleasing aspect of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive isn’t its economy but the relaxing lack of noise at low speed. In short, the Lexus CT200h is one seriously hushed car. Using electric power only, there’s barely a whine from the electric motor, while road and wind disturbance are negligible, courtesy of commendable cabin insulation.

Our noise meter shows the CT200h to be quieter than a Range Rover TDV8 at 30mph, and within four decibels of a Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Its not easy to balance performance and economy

When you call for more power, the car’s piston engine starts, barely perceptibly at first. Open the throttle wide, however, and you’ll certainly notice as it spins busily up to peak power to propel the Lexus’s 1450kg.

The hybrid powertrain doesn’t produce spectacular acceleration, however. Lexus claims 0-62mph in 10.3sec, but our two-way average to 60mph was 11.1sec.

The CT200h can be reasonably responsive, though. Select Sport mode and you get additional boost from the electric motor, as well as sharper throttle response. That done, you’ll find the Lexus has enough urge for relaxed overtaking below 70mph, provided there’s charge in its batteries.

The biggest problem with the car’s performance isn’t a shortage of outright power. It’s more that it’s delivered in a way that makes you feel only in vague control of either engine, and that makes you work doubly hard to gain and maintain speed.

Try to drive this car keenly, though, and the CT200h’s throttle may as well be a switch. You’re perpetually either flat out, waiting for the drivetrain to translate those high crank speeds into forward thrust, or off the accelerator completely, waiting for the batteries to regenerate.

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Unless you’re happy to use lots of revs and throttle at motorway speeds and on cross-country roads, it’s actually frustratingly easy to lose your hard-earned speed up inclines and around corners.