Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Launched in Australia in February 2011 the CT200h is Lexus’ first ever hatchback, unsurprisingly it’s also a hybrid. The CT can run solely on electric power for up to 2 kilometres of sensible driving.

On the design front the low sporty stance works well, with extensive underside covers including an aerodynamic engineered muffler under the sporty body, both of which contribute to the slippery 0.29 Cd drag coefficient.

In order to be as economical as possible, Lexus has made some of the CT200h’s body including the bonnet, rear hatch and much of the suspension, from aluminium.
Not so good The styling can take some getting used to. You wouldn’t call it ugly, but the design is a little unusual – However, with more and more cars appearing alike this could work in Lexus’ favour.

For a car that hides its exhaust pipe, the power bulge on the bonnet seems a little unnecessary.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The CT’s interior has a premium feel and its styling is refreshingly unique with a first class fit and finish. The dash plastics are soft to touch and the leather has a quality feel.

The instrument cluster is illuminated in a nice blue and turns to red while in sport mode, this is very effective at night. The electronic tacho can be switched to ‘ecometer’ to encourage drivers to save fuel while the low set driving position allows drivers of any proportion to get comfortable behind the chunky three spoke steering wheel.

Head and legroom in the rear is also adequate, at least for the outer two passengers and even with the hybrid battery positioned under the boot floor. Luggage space is a respectable 375 litres which grows to 985 litres with the rear bench seat folded down. The boot opening is also wider than most.
Not so good The CT’s middle second row seat isn’t adult friendly, and the boot is shallow as the battery pack and the temporary space-saver spare wheel are housed underneath.
Performance

Performance

Good All CT200h grades are fitted with a 1.8-litre four cylinder petrol engine and a 60kW electric motor. The petrol engine produces 73kW of power and 142Nm of torque, while combined with the electric motor the CT200h has a maximum power figure of 100kW.

The CT200h also features four driving modes: EV, ECO, Normal and Sport.

While in EV mode the CT200h makes full use of the electric motor, ECO mode delays when the petrol engine switches on to maximise economy, Normal mode feels as the name suggests and Sport mode sharpens up throttle response and allows for full use of both power sources, providing an official 0-100km/h dash in 10.3 seconds.

Real world performance is adequate, the CT200h keeps up with traffic fine and at speeds of up to 45km/h it can run solely on electric power. Mated to the CVT gearbox the combined official fuel consumption figure is a low 4.1 litres per 100km.
Not so good The differences in performance between normal and sport mode aren’t that great - we’re talking small degrees here. Even in sport mode, this definitely isn’t a hot hatch, but that’s not the point of the CT200h. The 0-100km/h figure of 10.3 seconds is nothing to boast about.

The nickel-metal hydride battery is lower tech than the more advanced lithium ion variety.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Unlike competition such as the similar sized Toyota Corolla which uses a more basic torsion beam rear suspension setup, this compact Lexus is fitted with a more advanced double wishbone rear end. Buyers that opt for the F-Sport variant also get upgraded Showa springs and shockers for enhanced handling capabilities. The CT200h’s ride didn’t get the best feedback by journalists at the global launch; however Lexus listened and refined the suspension before it arrived Down Under. On our unique road surfaces the ride is mostly refined, but never as super comfortable as the larger vehicles in the Lexus range. The handling is relatively agile and the levels of grip on offer are more than satisfactory. The steering is light yet responsive, well-weighted and becomes tight and direct while in Sport mode.
Not so good The ride is less than luxurious – over rougher surfaces the CT200 could be more forgiving yet at the same time the CT200 Lexus still isn’t the most fun choice to drive along a twisting country road. The steering lacks the feel of the class best and brake feel is average due to the regenerative system although actual brake performance is good.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Four variants are offered; Prestige, Luxury, F-Sport and Sport Luxury, all are good value but the entry level Prestige grade is especially so. All grades tick the safety box with eight airbags as standard including knee airbags for the front two. Upper spec grades come standard with a pre-collision safety system that tightens up seat belts and pumps up the brakes when radar sensors predict an accident is about to occur.

Options packs are reasonably priced. For an extra $3,000 the Prestige grade adds leather seats (with heating in the front two), a reversing camera and one size larger 17-inch alloy wheels.

For peace of mind the CT200h is covered by a four-year /100,000km warranty, with an extra eight-year warranty on the hybrid battery.
Not so good The Prestige grade misses out on the satellite-navigation which is positioned on a nice and large LCD screen which pops up from the dash when needed. Real world driving struggles to match the super frugal official consumption figure, yet in isolation it is still very impressive.