Lexus CT200h review - A premium hatchback alternative - Engine and Gearbox

A frugal choice, but lags well behind German rivals for driving entertainment

Evo rating
Price
from £21,000
  • Peerless Lexus service, reliability and tax-dodging emissions status
  • Eco focus makes for a dreary drive, yet the suspension is overly firm

Engine and gearbox

It might not excite, but the CT 200h’s powertrain is unquestionably impressively engineered. It mates an Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder 1.8-litre petrol engine to an electric motor/generator. They can work entirely independently of each other, or together, depending on the driving mode.

The engine’s maximum output is 98bhp, while the electric motor produces 81bhp. Man-maths might have that equating to 179bhp, but the reality is actually a maximum system output at any one time of only 134bhp. Below 28mph the electric motor can provide all the drive, though manage that and you’ll drain the nickel-hydride batteries in just 1.2 miles if you do achieve electric-only motoring around town.

With that large AC synchronous electric motor/generator there’s no need for a starter motor and the electric motor plays the role of electricity generator when it’s not needed, so energy is recuperated during coasting or regenerative braking.

Drivetrain changes in 2014 saw Lexus adapt the e-CVT transmission’s mapping for a more linear relationship between engine revs and road speed, in a bid to make it feel more like a conventional automatic. It was only partly successful though, as that e-CVT still rather wilfully hangs onto revs if you ask for anything more than modest acceleration.

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