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Lexus CT 200h review - prices, specifications and 0-60 time
Lexus CT launched with great fanfare by Lexus in 2011, though despite its headline-grabbing emissions figures it has never made much of a dent in the compact premium hatchback marketplace. That’s hardly surprising given it’s up against BMW’s 1 Series, the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, even if the CT went its own way with a hybrid-only powertrain.
Not even the promise of its tax-dodging status and parsimonious fuel economy has been enough to attract that many buyers in the UK. Conceptually confused, the CT has never known if it wants to focus on economy or compete with the best sporting choices, leading to compromises in both areas. A 2014 facelift attempted to address this, Lexus softening the over-firm suspension in an attempt to increase the comfort. All of its rivals are more entertaining to drive, and many now include at least one (diesel) model to match its tax-free status, too.
Lexus claims that the 2014 revisions went as far as stiffening up the CT 200h’s body by adopting new adhesion methods and additional welding, but the CT’s still a car that’s not going to thrill on the road. There’s limited fun to be had trying to eke out a few miles of electric-only driving from it. Ask for more than the batteries alone can produce and the 1.8-litre petrol engine joins in, though the CVT gearbox shatters the electric-only peace, removing the serenity that existed before.
With the very obvious exception of the LFA - a V10-engined, carbon fibre masterpiece (and the less impressive RC F) - Lexus doesn’t really do drivers’ cars. Its loyalty to hybrid technology makes for some appealing numbers if you’re driven entirely by potential economy and tax savings, but results in some real compromises on the road.
In other Lexus models the hybrid system is used to enhance performance without penalising too much, but here’s it’s all about maximising mpg and lowering CO2. Poorly resolved suspension and a list of rivals that can offer both driver appeal and pocket-friendly running costs make the case for the CT even weaker. If you’re trading up from a Toyota Prius you might like it, but otherwise it’s a difficult car to recommend.