LEXUS CT 200H F SPORT REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Hybrid luxury hatchback
Price: $49,990 (plus on-road costs)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 4.1 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 5.0 l/100km
What's hot: Frugal fuel consumption, open-road dynamics.
What's not: Not exactly quick, slightly cramped back seat.
X-Factor: The CT 200h F Sport is a bowser-shy hatchback that doesn't compromise on luxury – perfect for the well-to-do commuter.
The arrival of the CT 200h is a major milestone for Lexus. It's the Japanese company's first foray into the luxury hatchback segment, and its first hybrid-only model line.
It's much more than a gussied-up Prius though. A unique platform and a premium interior gives it its own personality, and its chassis dynamics are a delight.
- Quality: The CT 200h's cabin signals Lexus' new interior direction, and aside from a button-heavy centre console it's easy on the eyes and ergonomically sound.
Despite being the cheapest in the Lexus stable, the CT 200h receives the same high level of build quality enjoyed by other Lexus models and the same premium materials.
- Comfort: The front seats offer a good blend of comfort and support, however only the driver's seat is electrically adjustable. All controls fall easily to hand though, and there's plenty of legroom and headroom up front.
Headroom is a little tighter in the back seat, but it's otherwise spacious back there. A lack of face-level air outlets for rear passengers may be a disadvantage during a hot Australian summer.
- Equipment: The CT 200h F Sport sits in the middle of the CT range, and gets cruise control, sat nav, a reversing camera, Bluetooth telephony, heated front seats, a 10-speaker stereo with 6-CD stacker, dual-zone climate control, trip computer, auto-on headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a trip computer and auto-dimming rear view mirrors.
- Storage: The CT's boot is rather shallow but can take up to 375 litres of luggage, or 985 litres with the 60/40 split fold rear seats folded flat.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: The CT 200h's 100kW petrol-electric hybrid powertrain produces adequate performance for urban duty. There's enough power to keep with traffic when accelerating down highway on-ramps and moving away from traffic lights, but highway overtaking can require careful planning (it's a bit sluggish between 70km/h and 90km/h).
The CVT gearbox is smooth; it performs adequately but takes some getting used to. Poking around town, the transition between petrol and electric power (and vice-versa) is barely perceptible.
The CT 200h can operate under electric-only power in EV mode, although only up to 45km/h and for a maximum range of around 2km. However, even without using EV mode it's not difficult to get fuel consumption below 5.0 l/100km.
- Refinement: There's some tyre roar from the low-profile Yokohama dB tyres, but thanks to a whisper-quiet powertrain and a range of sound-deadening measures the CT 200h is tranquil inside.
- Suspension: F Sport models get firmer springs and performance dampers.
The result is a ride that's surprisingly stiff – perhaps too stiff for average-quality Australian roads. On the plus side, the CT 200h has great grip when hustled down a country lane and the electrically-assisted steering feels quite direct.
- Braking: The F Sport's brakes are shared with the rest of the CT 200h range, and have a lot of initial bite thanks to the regenerative braking system. They're very responsive though, and certainly inspire confidence.
- ANCAP rating: Not tested
- Safety features: Eight airbags (dual front, dual knee, dual front side and full-length curtain), three-point seatbelts (front pretensioning), ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control and traction control are standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: 4 years/100,000km
- Service costs: TBC (unavailable at time of launch)
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Audi A3 Sportback 1.8 TFSI automatic ($45,400) – It's got more power, more torque and retails for less than the CT 200h F Sport. It's got a greater thirst for petrol though, and when optioned to the same spec as the F Sport it's easily the more expensive machine.
- BMW 118d automatic ($44,500) – The 118d has sharp RWD handling dynamics and a willing (and thrifty) diesel. It's pretty bare in base specification though, and gets pricey when optioned up. (see 1 Series reviews)
- MINI Cooper D Chilli automatic ($41,050) – It's cheaper than the Lexus by a fair margin, but also a lot smaller and less prestigious. Its combined fuel economy of 5.0 l/100km is good, but not a match for the CT 200h. (see reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It isn't quick enough to be considered a genuine hot hatch, but the CT 200h's true merit lies with its fuel-sipping hybrid powerplant. If you want to save fuel but don't want to sacrifice your mod-cons, the CT should be on your shortlist.
The stiff performance-oriented suspension of the F Sport may not be to everyone's tastes, but there are other models in the CT range that have a more comfortable ride. All told, the CT 200h is an excellent addition to the Lexus line-up.
Disclosure: TMR attended the Australian launch of the Lexus CT 200h as a guest of Lexus Australia.