Lexus has entered the hatchback market with the Lexus CT200h, a sporty hybrid. Sporty hybrid, you ask? Is that even possible?
Lexus CT200h - IntroductionIn a word, no. Not this time. The Lexus CT200h should NOT be marketed as a sporty vehicle whatsoever. If you’re after something that will rival hot hatches, then kindly close this review and click on another article on this blog. If you’re interested in a luxury hatchback that happens to be extremely light on fuel and very comfortable to drive, then please read on.
Lexus CT200h - Exterior designThe Lexus CT200h is Lexus' first attempt at taking on the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volkswagen’s Golf 6. It’s a tough segment to be in and the Lexus has its work cut out for it. CT stands for Compact Tourer and shares the same platform as Toyota’s Corolla. It looks quite radical and sporty with its athletic styling, big alloy wheels and F-Sport badges. LED headlights are a nice touch too. Styling is not quite to everyone’s taste though and I’ll admit it openly that the rear light/bumper combination on the CT200h is just odd. Its best angle is from a front/side perspective.
Lexus CT200h - EngineForget looks, the Lexus CT200h’s best attributes are to be found under the bonnet and inside the cabin. Love or loathe it, the Toyota Prius is an impressive vehicle in terms of technology. Its 1.8-litre engine with an electric motor assist is brilliant and results in impressive fuel economy. The entire Prius engine and gearbox has been lifted and fitted straight into the Lexus. Think of the Lexus then as a tarted-up Prius. It sounds terrible, but it’s not as bad as you think.
Lexus CT200h - Engine TechnologyHow does it work? Well, you climb into the Lexus CT200h, depress the brake and push the Start button. You’re greeted with an eerie silence as the car comes to life. Right now, the car is in electric mode and no petrol is being used at all. Release the parking brake located on the left where the clutch should be, select Drive on the auto gearbox and you’re off. Like some stealth car, the Lexus is able to cruise around town at low speeds purely on electric power. Once you’re on faster roads, the 1.8-litre petrol engine comes to life and gives you the extra power. Power is rated at 100kW and 200Nm is available with both the electric and petrol working in tandem.You may worry about the electric motor draining the battery but this isn’t possible as the petrol engine keeps the battery charged.
The Lexus CT200h also features KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) much like Formula One cars. This is an ingenious method of charging the batteries and works by braking. As you apply the brake, the energy from the wheels turning is captured and sent to the battery. Obviously you won’t get much, but imagine taking your foot off the accelerator on a long downhill (or on a few mountain passes as I did). Within a few minutes, the battery is back in service and you’re able to go into electric mode. The most impressive thing about the Lexus CT200h has to be the way it seamlessly switches between electric and petrol mode. You don’t need to do anything besides steer and accelerate.
Lexus CT200h - Standard SpecificationLike most Lexus models, the cabin is supremely well equipped. The list of standard features is so extensive that I can’t actually think of anything that is missing. Heated leather seats? Check. Satellite navigation? Check. Bluetooth pairing? Check. Keyless entry? Check. High-powered car audio system with iPod connectivity? Check. Reverse camera? Check. It’s safe too with eight airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes.
Lexus CT200h - ConclusionNow, would I buy one? At R412,500 the Lexus CT200h F-Sport does feel very expensive for what’s essentially a luxury Toyota Prius (which costs R386,600 ) but then if you compare it similarly specced German hatches, you’re actually getting some value for money. Yes, the CVT gearbox drones if you really floor it and it does take time to adjust your driving style, but it’s so worth it when you see the magic 4.7L/100km figure appear on the readout.
Lexus CT200h - Price in South AfricaLexus CT200h F-Sport - R412,500
We like: · Brilliant fuel consumption · Jammed with tech · Lexus build quality and specfication
We don’t like: · Quirky styling · Not sporty at all · Loud CVT gearbox . Hard ride
Lexus CT200h F-Sport specifications
Engine: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, petrol Power: 73 kW @ 5 200 rpm Torque: 142 N.m @ 2 800 rpm Transmission: Continually Variable Transmission Wheels: 17-inch 0-100 km/h: 10.3 seconds (claimed) Fuel economy: 4.1l/100km (claimed combined cycle)