CT 200h SE-L Petrol/Hybrid
electric go hybrid Lexus!
We check out the Japanese luxury
new CT 200h
five-door hatch with hybrid power...
ROUGHLY THE SAME SIZE as the new Ford Focus, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, but
perhaps more importantly now that low- (and even nil-) CO2 emission models are
coming to market, the compact new hybrid Lexus is in the same size category
as the all-electric Nissan LEAF.
The LEAF costs £25,990 (after the government's current Low Carbon Car subsidy
of £5,000 which, note, is due to end by March 2012). The big issue for would-be
LEAF owners is that it only has a range of 109 miles between charges. However,
because of its zero CO2 emissions it's free of road tax, company car tax and
the London Congestion Charge.
The alternative choice Lexus CT 200h hybrid, with its combination of petrol
and electric motors, is not only cheaper than the LEAF but is not restricted
by its driving range and with 94g/km emissions it too is free of road tax and
the Congestion Charge. Company car drivers will pay 10 per cent Benefit-in-Kind
tax a relatively small price for a compact premium hatchback.
and taxes aside, petrol must still be bought for the Lexus hybrid whereas electricity
for the LEAF is almost cost-free at £2.50 for 109 miles. However, the LEAF only
does 109 miles between its 8- to 12-hour charges the CT 200h's
trump card is that it has no limit to its range.
the Nissan LEAF
it only does
109 miles between
8- to 12-hour charges.
Whereas the CT 200h
to its range...
It also cannot really be argued that the LEAF is CO2-free because electricity
production is said to equate to 70-80g/km so while it might be
free of CO2 at the tailpipe, the LEAF's polluting CO2 is emitted elsewhere.
All of which explains why the hybrid Lexus is a more viable alternative to the
all-electric Nissan LEAF.
On top of that, Lexus is undeniably a more desirable brand. It has just topped
the JD Power customer satisfaction survey for the 11th year running. Although
the CT 200h is new to the range, and so does not figure in the latest results,
there is no reason for it not to be just as user-friendly and reliable as the
Toyota Prius hybrid which is more or less the same model. As one
automotive PR person put it: "The CT 200h is a Prius wearing a posh frock."
The CT 200h is a five-door, family-sized hatch available in three levels of
trim: SE-I, SE-L and SE-L Premier. All use the same petrol/electric hybrid power
train: a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder variable valve timing petrol engine paired
with an electric motor with drive to the front wheels via a CVT automatic transmission.
The car can be driven in full electric EV mode for zero-emission city zones
or when pulling away from parking; in ECO mode for the best fuel consumption
(with engine power and electric motor combining as required); or in Sport mode
where the electric motor is used to max the CT 200h's performance. The system
also incorporates energy capture (stored in the lithium-ion batteries) through
The out-and-out performance is nothing to write home about: top speed is 112mph
and zero to 62mph acceleration takes 10.3 seconds. Officially, the Combined
Cycle fuel consumption is 68.9mpg with low CO2 emissions of 94g/km.
reality my test car driven all the time in ECO mode because that
is what this car is all about returned 49.8mpg covering all kinds
of journeys from city stop-starts, A and B roads and motorways so it should
be representative of what can be expected.
In reality my CT 200h
driven all the time in ECO
mode because that is
what this car is all about
covering all kinds of
journeys from city stop-
starts, A and B
roads and motorways...
Plus no road tax or London Congestion Charge to pay, and only 10 per cent BIK
company car tax.
CT 200h has come in for some criticism about the quality of its ride and the
lack of feedback through the steering. These, however, are common views from
the motoring press who perhaps no longer reflect in their reviews the realities
of what the actual customers want.
Yes the suspension is firm, worse on some road surfaces than others; but not
bone-jarringly so. The electronic steering is no worse that most of these modern
energy-saving systems which do not have the feedback of the former energy-sapping
hydraulic set-ups. The CT 200h offers good enough front-end grip during cornering
and rides flat through bends so passengers are not inconvenienced by body roll.
In addition, it offers no-fuss motoring; it is really easy to drive and I found
it no hardship at all to live with indeed, due to an overlap of
new test models it was my car of choice when I had several to choose from.
That's not to say that everything is perfect. The styling, for instance, is
not premium class and it looks a bit bland although there is a hint of sportiness
with some sharp contours a tad more Toyota or Subaru than Lexus.
Inside is better and the Lexus high-quality theme of co-ordinated fixtures and
fittings has been cascaded down, although a door-pull capping came off twice
during my time with the car.
Rear seat legroom is not the most plentiful and, at 375 litres, the boot is
not as large as those of most cars in this sector however, fold
down the rear seatbacks and this does increase to 965 litres. In fact, as far
as space goes, the CT 200h is probably more suited for business singles or couples
rather than family use.
specification is high, even on the cheapest model. Across the board all versions
are fitted with alloy wheels 16 or 17-inch, according to customer
preference. Go for the smallest ones to minimise the firm ride.
The CT 200hs
strongest point is that
to be made on
the distance that can
with the CT 200h
one car does it all...
Also standard is dual-zone climate control, a USB port and Aux socket for connecting
portable music players, Bluetooth for mobile connection and audio streaming,
front fogs, auto wipers, dark-tinted rear privacy glass and power windows and
SE-L specification adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and front and
rear parking sensors. The range-topper SE-L Premier adds cruise control, smart
entry and Start button, power front seat adjustment, a 13-speaker Mark Levinson
audio system, SatNav and a rear parking camera.
CT 200h is compromised in some areas but it will definitely bring new customers
to the Lexus brand. It keeps tax costs to a minimum, offers seamless petrol/electric
power, better mpg, lower CO2 emissions and is quiet. Against? A firm ride, lifeless
steering and limited rear seat space and that door-pull capping problem is not
Its strongest point is that there's no compromise to be made on the distance
that can be driven. With the CT 200h petrol/electric hybrid, one car does it
all whereas with an electric-only power the driving range is very limited and
normally means owning two cars, which is far more expensive in every way.
Lexus CT 200h SE-L Petrol/Hybrid | £25,200
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 10.3 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 134bhp | Torque: 105lb ft | CO2 94g/km