Lexus CT200h driven

  • Posh, small, hybrid car
  • 68.9mpg and 96g/km of CO2
  • Our first test of baby Lexus
What is it? Luxury small hatch with hybrid power
Price £23,485 - £30,635 (at 20% VAT)
MPG 68.9
CO2 96g/km
When can I get one?Order now, first deliveries early in 2011

What’s not to like – a properly posh small car with serious green credentials and the reassurance of top-notch customer service? The new Lexus CT200h seems to have it all.

Or does it? On paper, it promises so much: under the bonnet (and in the boot) you’ll find the same hybrid system as in the Toyota Prius – a 1.8-litre petrol engine plus battery-powered electric motor, which equals low emissions and low tax bills.

The car will run on petrol or battery power alone (the latter for only a kilometre or so) or a combination of both. The batteries are recharged using recaptured energy as you slow the car down. Brilliant.

You’ve also got the top-notch quality and unbeatable customer service that Lexus is famous for.

Oh, and it’s good value, too, with loads of kit for the cash and low running costs.

So why aren’t we exactly shouting from the rooftops about this car? The sum of its parts
don’t quite add up, and most of that’s down to the way it drives.

Lexus goes sporty
This is Lexus’s attempt to get sporty. Actually, it’s at pains to avoid the word sporty, referring to the car as ‘dynamic’.

In Lexus’s attempt to go chasing the BMW 1 Series, it has produced a car that handles well, but lumbers you with a ride that feels like it’s going to shake your hair loose. The car grips well enough, too, and stays flat through bends, but the steering gives you about as much pleasure as processed cheese.

While we’re at it, good though the hybrid system is for economy and emissions, it’s hardly exciting as a 0-62mph time the wrong side of 10 seconds proves. The whiney stepless auto gearbox becomes tiresome, too.

Lexus says it has time before the car goes on sale in the UK to address some of the issues, notably the ride. It needs to.

Good kit
It’s all something of a shame, because there are things this Lexus does so well. The cabin is generally quiet, but for a bit of tyre noise. It looks good inside, too, and feels well made.

The kit list is long, with top spec cars getting climate control, leather, LED headlights, a sensational Mark Levinson stereo and sat-nav (although the latter is controlled through Lexus’s infuriating Remote Touch controller).

There’s not much space in the back, but it’s no worse than a 1 Series or A3. The boot is tiny, though.

Tiny also applies to emissions (not only CO2, but harmful local pollutants - much lower than any diesel car) and your tax bill if it’s a company car – you’ll make big savings over similarly-priced 1 Series and A3 diesel autos. Road tax is free and you won’t be congestion charged.

If you expect this Lexus to be as cosseting to your general wellbeing as your bank balance, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The CT200h isn’t the downsizer’s dream we were expecting.

What Car? says
Great stats, but so disappointing on the road

Buyer's file
Engine size 1.8-litre petrol hybrid
Price from £23,485
Power bhp 133
0-60mph 10.3
Top speed 112
Economy 68.9
CO2 g/km/tax 96
Airbags 8
Doors 5
Seats 5

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