Almost seven years on from its launch, the Lexus CT 200h has had a refresh. The first luxury, compact, petrol-electric hatchback was first driven by Company Car back in 2011 & at that time was ahed of the curve, offering premium quality with exceptional fuel economy & low emissions. In the UK it has amassed more than 27,500 sales, more than a third of the total sold across Europe.
Lexus has created a stronger look for the CT 200h with a number of new exterior details, including a cleaner, more prominent arrangement of the signature Lexus spindle grille & front bumper with the repositioning of the arrowhead daytime running lights above new single-projector LED headlamp units. Changes have also been to the rear of the vehicle with a new garnish & treatment of the lower rear bumper section, plus a choice of new 16″and 17″wheel designs.
Inside, the cabin continues to express Lexus quality & craftsmanship with its use of fine trim & upholstery materials. I am lucky enough to drive most cars & Lexus never disappoints in both it’s quality & attention to detail. The multimedia central display screen has been enlarged up to 10.3″ inches & the Lexus Safety System+ is now standard on all UK grades above SE, offering a Pre-Collision System (PCS), Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist Alert (LKA) with Sway Warning, Automatic High Beam (AHB) headlights & Road Sign Assist (RSA).
It was with great pleasure that I took delivery of an Azure Blue CT Sport. The Sport model is striking to look at, with F Sport spindle grille, bumpers, rear spoiler, rear privacy glass, shark fin antenna, plus 17” F Sport alloy wheels.
The Sport comes with some lovely extras such as an F Sport aluminium pedal set, scuff plates, an electrically adjustable drivers seat, F Sport black leather upholstery, electrically folding auto dimming side mirrors, an F Sport steering wheel, a lateral damper system & an auto dimming rear view mirror with parking monitor. Standard equipment includes driver and passenger front, side and knee airbags, curtain airbags, ABS, EBD, traction control, vehicle stability control, rain sensing wipers, six-speaker( ten speaker on F Sport ) DAB audio/CD/ MP3 player & Bluetooth.
The rest of the interior is incredibly well put together, with Lexus’s legendary attention to detail evident on all the fixtures & fittings. The drivers seat is ultra comfy & unlike many with electrically adjustable seats, was easy to use & to find the right position for me. Starting the engine requires some thought as the keyless keys mean that you push a start button with your foot on the clutch & then put the auto box into drive with your foot on the brake. Of course, just to confuse you, it’s an EV so there’s no clues as to whether you’re up & running or not. But, like everything else in life, you get used to it very quickly & soon realise what a nice car the CT is to drive, quiet, smooth & comfortable. When compared to other cars in it’s class, particularly those with a manual gearbox, the CT is just a pleasure to pilot, almost like driving a dodgem car. Of course, this won’t appeal to all of you reading this, but I can’t think of anything better than a relaxed motorway journey, that involves no gear changing in the inevitable traffic jam, before I arrive to visit a client or attend a meeting.
And, because of the hybrid technology, the auto box achieves excellent economy, 68.9 mpg on the combined, which of course I didn’t achieve, averaging 47.8 mpg, but impressive none the less. CO2 emissions are low as well, just 94g/km, figures to make any company accountant happy. It’s capable of reaching 112 mph & 0-62 mph in 10.3 seconds. Once you drive it though, you will relax & wonder why you ever drove anything else. It may lack the excitement of a BMW 3 Series, but that’s not the point of the CT 200h. It has been designed to get you from A to B quietly, in great comfort and most importantly, while using less fuel than any Lexus that went before. And, in all these things, it works. To test out my theory, I took a diehard BMW M3 driving neighbour out in the CT & he was very impressed by the build quality, equipment, smooth acceleration & of course the price of the CT Sport, which is very competitive when put up against the 3 Series, A4 or C-Class. All in all, a result for the CT. Even he had to admit that although his M3 is fantastic to ‘drive,’ if a little uncomfortable, a CT would be the sensible frequent drivers choice.
The battery under the floor of the boot reduces the luggage area in the CT, with only 375 litres on offer with all five seats in place, although this does increase to an impressive 985 litres when you fold the rear seats down. Cabin space is adequate, with good head & legroom up front & you will get two adults comfortably in the rear, with room in the centre at a push for one more.
Negatives ? The CT ticks almost all of the boxes if you’re looking for a frugal, luxurious company car. However, Lexus may have updated the inside & outside of the CT, but the same 1.8 16 valve DOHC engine still powers the car, with the same CVT gear box. Whilst this may not upset some, the CT just isn’t as good to drive as the latest models from Lexus main competitors. Even the outdated BMW 1 Series drives better, as does the Audi A3. Plus, there’s a new A-Class launched shortly, so Lexus knows what it’s up against.
In conclusion, you will NOT get a car in this sector that’s as well made as the CT & the hybrid technology is also a bonus in these anti diesel times. It isn’t the best in class to drive but if you’re looking for an easy life, in more ways than one, the CT may just be the car for you. Personal taxation is lower on the CT than you’d be paying on an equivalent diesel. It’s certainly worth putting on your list of maybe’s & testing one to see if you agree with me.