Lexus CT 200h: Final report

25 Feb, 2013 10:15am Mat Watson

Our Lexus CT 200h has been a revelation as a video shoot back-up car

A lot can happen in 12 months, and it did to our Lexus CT 200h. In fact, it had a bit of a hard life in my custody because as head of motoring video I’ve been using it as a workhorse, lugging loads of camera gear up and down the country.

Still, this gave me plenty of time to really see what this alternative take on a premium small hatch is like to live with. And this is what I’ve learned.

If you drive mainly in town, and at a very sedate pace, you can not only achieve Lexus’ claimed economy figure, but beat it.

I did almost 72mpg on one run into work. However, if you drive any distance on the motorway, your overall average will tumble as the hybrid system isn’t as efficient as a diesel at sustained high speed. This is a shame as the CT is very comfy on long motorway journeys – its seats are among the best I’ve ever sat in.

Sadly, the car isn’t so cosseting in town as the needlessly hard suspension of our F Sport model will shake your fillings loose if you so much as go near a pothole or bump.

You probably won’t be going anywhere very quickly if you rely on the optional sat-nav system, though. It seems to choose the most inappropriate routes, despite claiming to incorporate traffic avoidance technology.

Plus, if you only have the postcode of your destination, the dated four-digit entry will only let you get to within a 500-metre radius. I used the TomTom app on my iPhone instead.

Still, I will miss the CT’s infotainment interface – give me the joystick control over BMW’s iDrive wheel any day. It’s just a pity Lexus made the tech worse when it updated it for the new GS. So much for progress.

And so much for our car’s F Sport badging. The CT can sap all the fun out of even the most perfect twisty road, thanks to its whiney and unresponsive CVT gearbox, plus steering that’s so numb it may as well be connected to a Sony PlayStation games console rather than the front wheels.

But I certainly can’t complain about the practicality. The boot is still a decent size, even though the batteries are stored beneath it, and with no load lip and seats that fold flat, I managed to fit in some decking.

Not so clever are the ‘shadow’ wheels on our F Sport. They sit slightly proud of the tyres, and are not only easily kerbed, but hard to fix. Turns out Lexus has no specific paint code for the dark shade, so if you have one repaired, you’ll need to get all the others resprayed to match. Brilliant.

Still, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the CT 200h, it’s this: it grows on you. It would never have made my premium hatch shopping list, yet now it’s gone I will definitely miss it.

Our view

“I like the styling, so I was prepared to give the Lexus the benefit of the doubt before I took the wheel. But I agree with Mat; the driving experience falls well short of the class’s best.”
Luke Madden, Deputy news editor

Your view

“Am I the only one who thinks £25k-plus for what’s essentially a glorified Toyota Prius is just nuts?”
Hassan, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

Disqus - noscript

I've had my CT200h for about twelve months. I have owned many cars over the years including Mercedes, other Lexus, Fiats and Fords. The CT is my favourite car.

I don't understand the comments about the ride. It's firm but I'm sure it would not warrant comment if it was a sporty BMW. The transmission is seamless and gives the engine/transmission a different sound, not necessarily noisy. In fact the whole car is normally very quiet. (The engine isn't even running a good proportion of the time). It certainly is comfortable - best front seats ever - and of course, economical.

Most of all, I find it full of personality and a lot of F-U-N.

Mat Watson: "If you drive mainly in town, and at a very sedate pace, you can not only achieve Lexus’ claimed economy figure, but beat it. I did almost 72mpg on one run into work. However, if you drive any distance on the motorway, your overall average will tumble."
Totally agree. I have driven this hybrid stystem in Prius and I reached precisely the same conclusion. My best was only 56mpg over 9k miles but my more sedate colleagues could get up to 65mpg. I also agree that its very relaxing to drive in town but not equally so on motorway. The mileage suffers as well.

A GOOD LOOKING TOYOTA AURIS & ABOUT £4K-5K MORE, I WOULD PREFER A DIESEL MODEL ANYDAY. HYBRIDS ARE WAY TO OVERATED THEY CLAIM MPG FIGURES THAT ARE JUST NOT POSSILBLE IN REAL LIFE PLUS THEY COST TO MUCH TO BUY IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Your comments about the sat nav are completely in accurate as it does take a full postcode. Perhaps you should have kept it a bit longer you may then have had the time to understand it !!!!

Key specs

  • On fleet since: February 2012
  • Price new: £27,886
  • Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 134bhp
  • CO2/Tax: 94g/km/£0
  • Options: 10-speaker stereo and parking assistance pack (£1,850), metallic paint (£510)
  • Trade-in now: N/A
  • Insurance group/quote: 19/£419
  • Mileage/mpg: 12,468/51.2mpg
  • Costs: None so far
  • Any problems?: Kerbed alloys
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