The Lexus CT200h will probably be familiar to you whether you’re a Kylie fan or not. It’s the hybrid car she’s been driving since February – on TV at least – and it’s the smallest car that Lexus has made.
Lexus is the Japanese answer to BMW or Audi and it has stolen a march on its German rivals by being the first to market with a hybrid car in the premium compact segment.
So Lexus is targeting buyers of the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series with its innovative new model. Buyers, presumably, who are looking for something a little different. The CT200h uses the same technology long-proven in the Toyota Prius. Capable of 68.9mpg (on both an urban and a combined cycle) and with a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds, the CT200h emits just 94g/km of CO2 which means it’s very clean indeed. Clean enough to be tax and congestion charge-free and greener and more economical than its rivals, even when its rivals’ cars are fitted with relatively eco-friendly, modern diesel engines.
Many people still can’t shift the perception that diesels are stinking, noisy, polluting unsophisticated engines (not true). On the other hand, a hybrid is perceived to be at the sharp end of engine development (true-ish). And there the CT200h has an advantage. It certainly feels like it’s thoroughly contemporary and packed with technology.
In all-electric EV mode, which the car frequently pulls away in – unless you are making for a particularly fast exit – is near totally silent. If you travel at up to 27mph – as I frequently did around town – the CT200h continues to progress in near silence. You can even manually switch to EV mode which will give you around a two-mile range using electricity only.
The problem is I have never seen anger so demonstrably communicated by other drivers as I did crawling around London while focusing on keeping the needle firmly in the ‘eco zone’ on its dashboard dial. Such slow speeds seemed to upset less enlightened people. I did however manage to achieve between 50 and 60mpg on each of the trips I did. While I wafted along with almost zen-like abandonment in as refined a car as I have driven for a while, other road users became more and more agitated. Of course you can do 90mph in this car. You can even do so in a sport setting that helpfully turns the dash lighting an aggressive red. But really why would you? All of the satisfaction lies in driving it as economically and as calmly as possible. In any case its SE-I interior is a very nice place to sit and contemplate nothingness. The cabin feels luxurious. The climate control is efficient. Even the in-car system is operated by a mouse which glides across the information display screen in an obedient fashion. The gear change too is genial. Shifting gears is via a floating chrome handled gear selector in the centre of the dash.
But here’s the rub, the CT200h is not so sporty to drive and it’s kinda funny looking. The 1-8 litre engine produces just 99bhp and even when added to its 82bhp electric motor this makes for a not-quite-sporty-enough 136bhp. And this is where the CT200h disappoints. It’s not the most exciting car in the world to drive. So I suggest that if you choose to test drive one you appreciate that its skills lie elsewhere. It’s stress-free. In fact it could only be made less stressful with Kylie behind the wheel.
LEXUS CT 200H
0-62MPH: (0-62mph): 10.3 secs
TOP SPEED: 112 mph
CO2 G/KM: 94g/km
MPG COMBINED: 68.9 mpg
VALUE FOR MONEY