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21 September 2017

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Lexus CT CT200h road test report

CT200h

Borrowing its entire powertrain from the Toyota Prius, the new CT200h is Lexus’ first 5-door compact car. It’s also the fourth model in the current Lexus range to be powered by full hybrid drive, and the first full hybrid car from any manufacturer in the ‘premium compact’ segment. But is it a glorified Prius, or something more?

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Lexus CT

Image number 2 of the Lexus CTImage number 3 of the Lexus CTImage number 4 of the Lexus CT

Performance Performance - 3 stars

Like the Prius, the CT200h’s total system power output (1.8-litre petrol and electric motors combined) is 136hp. Fed through an electronically-controlled CVT auto transmission this is sufficient for 0-62mph in 10.3 secs (one tenth quicker than Prius) with a top speed of 112mph (same as Prius). Due to the characteristics of the CVT transmission, the CT200h doesn’t give the impression of having warp factor performance, but keep your right foot planted and, helped by a very low Cd of 0.28, the speedo needle makes its way round the dial soon enough. Like its Toyota cousin, the CT200h effectively has four selectable driving modes: EV, (electric only, zero emissions), Eco, Normal and Sport. When in Sport mode the CT’s instrument backlighting switches from ‘hybrid blue’ to a warm red, while the Eco meter changes to a conventional rev counter.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

Lexus engineers have left no stone unturned to make the CT200h a true driver’s car with sporty steering and handling characteristics. ‘Though the CT’s chassis is based on the Prius’, it’s been modified and improved so heavily that it’s effectively a new platform. No doubt about it, the CT200h feels exceptionally taut and well controlled on the road, with direct speed-sensitive power steering (2.7 turns lock-to-lock). It’s very quiet and refined too, but it could be argued that the CT’s chassis might almost be too stiff as every one of the press launch demo cars was fitted with the optional (c.£500 tbc) Lateral Performance Damper System – a new invention designed to dampen-out the extra vibrations that become apparent with such a rigid chassis structure.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

Lexus has long provided the benchmark for build and reliability. Bettering its 2009 tally of 833, in the 2010 JD Power customer satisfaction survey Lexus scored an impressive 846 points out of 900 to again place it comfortably in first place, ahead of almost 30 other brands. Furthermore, Lexus now has a total of 67 JD Power awards in its corporate trophy cabinet, including no less than ten Gold Awards in the UK. Having been manufactured, assembled and inspected so meticulously, it’s an exercise in futility to try to find fault in any aspect of the CT200h’s construction or finish. That isn’t to say that nothing will ever go wrong, but Lexus’ strong residual values indicate that failures are few and far between.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

The CT200h doesn’t go on sale in the UK until March 2011 so there are no crash tests results to report yet. However the car has been designed to achieve the maximum 5-stars in the Euro NCAP and NCAP (USA) tests along with 6 stars in the Japanese NCAP test. The CT200h is also the first car in its segment to feature a radar-controlled, pre-emptive Pre-Crash Safety system (incorporating Adaptive Cruise Control), and in addition there are eight airbags (inc curtain and front knee bags as standard), Whiplash Injury Lessening front seats with active headrests, ABS, Brake Assist plus Traction and Vehicle Stability Control systems.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

The CT’s front seats almost deserve a section of their own. In addition to being very comfy and supportive they feature internal heating that operates proactively with the car’s aircon system, thus reducing its workload and further enhancing fuel efficiency, and they come with either 6-way manual or 8-way power adjustment. The CT also has good head and shoulder room in the front along with ample space and comfort for two or more adults in the rear. Despite the large battery located beneath the floor, the boot has a 375-litre capacity and, with the 60/40 split/fold rear seat folded flat, space increases to 985-litres. The front centre console also has two of the largest cupholders you’ve ever seen.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 5 stars

Emitting just 96g/km of CO2 (zero road tax) and returning 68.9mpg (in UK spec, both combined figures an subject to final EU homologation), the more luxurious CT200h doesn’t quite match the Prius or Auris Hybrid on emissions or fuel frugality, but in the real world expect mpg in the mid 50s, tops, (for all three). The CT200h is expected to start at £23,485, thus following on from where a top-spec Prius leaves off. Almost needless to say, this new baby Lexus won’t come short of equipment. For example, there’s Lexus’ easy-to-use Remote Touch mouse system for navigating around the 8-inch full colour LCD screen which displays the CT’s audio, sat-nav, climate, phone, trip computer, rear view monitor and vehicle set-up systems. To summarise, the CT200h is a car for discerning younger buyers who enjoy driving at sub ballistic speeds, but have no particular wish to publicly advertise either their thriftiness or environmental concern. And those points alone make it more than a glorified Prius.

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