2014 LEXUS CT 200H REVIEW
What’s Hot: Thrifty powerplant, improved handling.
What’s Not: Far from quick, entry price higher than competitors.
X-FACTOR: Looking for something small, economical, and a little bit fancy? The CT 200h is well worth checking out.
Vehicle Style: 5-door mall luxury hatchback
Price: $39,990 to $56,990
Engine/trans: 73kW/142Nm 1.8 litre petrol 4 cyl, 60kW/207Nm 650V electric motor. 100kW/207Nm system output.
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.1 l/100km | tested: 5.6 l/100km
Aside from the marque’s trademark spindle grille, some new wheel designs and a revised rear bumper, the differences between the 2014 model and the pre-update Lexus CT 200h are subtle.
GS and IS aside, Lexus is still a remarkably conservative company and the incremental improvements made to the 2014 CT 200h are evidence of this.
Are they enough to keep the CT 200h fresh and relevant in the luxury small car market?
All of the CT’s German competitors are newer, and offer a cheaper price of entry (A-Class, A3 and 1 Series all begin at $35,600). The CT 200h, by contrast, is halfway through its life cycle and is priced from $39,990.
But Lexus reckons the 2014 CT 200h range has the right look, right ride and right specification to keep it in the game. We put that to the test.
- Bluetooth phone/audio integration, reversing camera, cruise control, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control are standard across range
- 10-speaker audio system on Luxury and F Sport grades. 14-speaker Mark Levinson stereo on Sport Luxury. Bluetooth phone/audio and two USB ports standard.
- 6-way power adjustable cloth seats on Luxury grade. 10-way power leather seats for F Sport and Sport Luxury
- Satellite navigation standard on F Sport and Sport Luxury
- 4 Interior leather colours.
Key changes to the inside center on trim choices, the steering wheel and infotainment system. The rest is mostly familiar fare.
The CT’s quirky umbrella-handle shift lever is now wrapped in leather. The steering wheel is also trimmed in hide, and is a delight to hold.
Keener eyes will note the Remote Touch controller for the infotainment system has lost its side-mounted Enter buttons, with the track pad now pushing in to accomplish the same function.
The 7-inch screen is also fixed now, rather than power-retractable.
Physically, the rest of the cabin is the same. That means comfy front seats regardless of grade, but a somewhat tight rear seat with limited headroom, kneeroom and no face-level air vents.
Instead, it’s the list of features as standard that offers the greatest point of difference between the 2014 model and the pre-update CT 200h.
A reversing camera now cones across the range, and the base audio system gets ten rather than six speakers.
F Sport and Sport Luxury models have satellite navigation and a digital radio tuner as standard, as well as Lexus’ Enform connectivity system (which we’ll delve further into later).
There are also less obvious improvements, such as the 94 separate sound and vibration suppression features that make the 2014 CT quieter and more comfortable than before.
There’s more sound deadening, a more rigid bodyshell and a revised inlet tract that keeps engine noise muted even when at full throttle. The previous model was already pretty churchlike inside, but the 2014 CT 200h is even more so.
Due to the high-voltage battery’s position in the rear of the car, luggage space is still compromised. Still, at 375 litres with the rear seats up, the CT’s shallow-but-long luggage area isn’t that far behind even the most spacious of hatchbacks.
ON THE ROAD
- 73kW/142Nm 1.8 litre petrol 4 cyl, 60kW/207Nm 650V electric motor. 100kW/207Nm system output.
- CVT automatic transmission.
- MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension.
- Electric power steering, Disc brakes
The CT 200h’s petrol-electric powertrain and drivetrain is unchanged for 2014, with power and torque remaining at 100kW and 207Nm respectively.
The CVT transmission is also 'flary' and for those moments where you need a quick stab of power, the CT can be slow to respond and found wanting.
That shortcoming aside, the CT certainly handles well.
While the electric power steering’s weight is artificially heavy in Sport mode, turn-in is sharp and grip levels are high.
Even along the rain-soaked first half of the drive route, the CT 200h exhibited great roadholding.
While the engine carries over - it's a shame it didn't get a drivetrain update - the suspension has been comprehensively re-tuned for 2014.
The stiffer structure of the updated CT has allowed Lexus to dial back the stiffness of the springs, dampers and swaybars, improving ride comfort without sacrificing handling.
Even on the firmer suspension hardware of the CT 200h F Sport, we found the ride to be well-damped and comfortable.
Fuel economy is claimed 4.1 l/100km on the combined cycle, but the hilly launch route saw us consume an average of a very low 5.6 l/100km.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 36.13 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Eight airbags (front, front side, front knee, full-length curtain), anti-whiplash front headrests, three-point seatbelts for all seats.
Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist and a reversing camera are standard fit. Sport Luxury models get radar cruise control and a collision-detection system, while the same system is optionally available on the CT 200h F Sport.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While the price of entry into the CT range remains at $39,990, the cost of the F Sport has dropped $2000 and the Sport Luxury has fallen by $1000.
At $48,990 and $56,990 respectively, both remain good choices for those looking for those typical Lexus qualities of dependability and quality in a small hatch.
The lack of mechanical muscle however is even more obvious now though, with Mercedes, BMW and Audi all offering a more diverse and potent range of small hatches than Lexus.
There are no powertrain upgrades on the horizon for the CT range either, so prospective buyers will have to be comfortable with having just 100kW and 207Nm to play with should they choose to go with the Lexus.
The specification upgrades are welcome though, and the F Sport is looking particularly attractive. We’ll be spending more time in the CT 200h soon, so stay tuned for a more in-depth appraisal.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
CT 200h Luxury - $39,990
- Enhancement 1, $3250: leather-accented interior, seat heaters, 17" alloys and fog lamps.
- Enhancement 2, $5750: as above, plus moonroof.
- Enhancement 3, $7250: Builds on pack 1 with digital radio, Enform, satellite navigation and self-dimming interior mirror.
CT 200h F Sport - $48,990
- Enhancement 1, $2500: adds moonroof
- Enhancement 2, $6500: as above, plus PCS, ACC, smart card key and Mark Levinson audio
CT 200h Sports Luxury - $56,990