Lexus CT200h review - A premium hatchback alternative - Ride and handling

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

Read the specification of the CT 200h and the compact, front-drive Lexus suggests it might offer an engaging driving experience. There’s much talk of a low centre of gravity, while the 2014 changes promised increased body rigidity thanks to new spot welds on the rear cross member and around the rear hatchback opening. There’s also a high rigidity front brace, while the steering wheel mounts, the column assembly itself and suspension members have all been reinforced for greater stiffness and improved response.

In a class where you’re competing against the German premium brands the Lexus needs to be outstanding to succeed, and it just doesn’t manage that. The changes have improved the CT 200h, but it still trails its competition on driver appeal. The steering is direct enough, but there’s no feel; pressing the Sport button does little to change that - the heft required at the wheel increasing, but there's no notable improvement in immediacy or information. Grip levels are relatively modest, the tyres more economy-biased than performance orientated, which, given its powertrain, is hardly surprising.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

The BMW 1 Series offers so much more rewarding handling and balance, while even Audi’s rather stodgy A3 is a more entertaining steer. A Mercedes-Benz A-Class, too, even if it shares one of the CT 200h’s defining characteristics of an overly busy ride. 

Choose the F Sport model and you get front and rear lateral performance dampers, which Lexus says are designed to absorb and minimise body vibrations and improve steering feel. Whether it’s successful is difficult to really ascertain, as the CT 200h just doesn’t have the powertrain or chassis that’ll encourage you to tip it into a bend with any sort of enthusiasm.

Most Popular

SSC Tuatara hypercar hits 331mph, making it the world’s fastest production car
News

SSC Tuatara hypercar hits 331mph, making it the world’s fastest production car

Over a decade after SSC last entered the record books, its Tuatara has claimed the title of world’s fastest production car
19 Oct 2020
£153,000 ​Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA enters final stages of development
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

£153,000 ​Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA enters final stages of development

Alfa Romeo has put its F1 drivers behind the wheel of the Giulia GTA and GTAm ahead of production in 2021
20 Oct 2020
Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 test mule fires up on video for first time
News

Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 test mule fires up on video for first time

A development car for Gordon Murray’s T.50 supercar has been shown firing up on video
19 Oct 2020
Range Rover D350 Autobiography 2020 review – new straight-six diesel a great fit
Land Rover Range Rover

Range Rover D350 Autobiography 2020 review – new straight-six diesel a great fit

The Range Rover’s new powertrain improves an admittedly aging package, but age doesn’t inhibit regality and it still has that in excess
17 Oct 2020