Lexus CT200h is the luxury package says James Martin Mail Online

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LEXUS CT200h

Sticking to the green, green grass of home for your holiday? The Lexus CT200h is the luxury package

UPDATED: 21:01 GMT, 2 July 2011

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This summer, I ve decided to have a staycation. I love England. I ve never understood the late July rush to go elsewhere.

Why endure the Ј40-a-day airport parking, the bus ride to the terminal, the hour it takes to get your ticket out of those stupid new self-service machines, the Ј30 charge for excess baggage (when you ll never wear half the clothes), the three-hour flight wedged into a fat man s armpit, another hour on a hot bus at the other end, now minus your lost luggage, all to reach a bed that looks like an upturned orange crate in a room that smells like a smoker s fingers?

The real surprise was how much fun this hybrid is to drive. The Lexus CT200h rides like it’s on rails in a straight line and in the corners it’s rigid and lively

Why do all that, when you can just walk a few paces into your garden?

I ve been all over the world and I can honestly say there s nowhere I d rather be on a warm summer s day. I m writing this in my garden now, with a cold beer and the sound of birdsong in my ears. Is that a goldfinch or a garden warbler?

I d have to ask Bill Oddie, but I do know it s a nicer sound than I ve ever heard in Torremolinos.

Thinking about it, a drive through the countryside with the roof down, a nice pub lunch followed by a snooze on a newly mowed lawn would make a … package holiday. I wonder if Thomas Cook would be interested?

And it gets better. When Britain s 30 million combustion engines are one day replaced with smooth, silent electric power, you ll be able to hear the birds sing even if there s an A-road over the hedge.

It starts at Ј23,000 but this is a Premier model with sat-nav, cruise control and a parking camera, and costs Ј30,000

But that s a long way off. A very long way off, to judge by the electric cars I ve tested so far: by the time you ve found a radio station you like, you re out of juice. In the meantime, we ve got hybrids, like this Lexus CT200h.

You can drive it in silent electric mode, but only for a mile. The real point of the electric motor is to share the load with the four-cylinder engine, making it much more efficient and saving you money at the pumps.

Until recently I thought hybrids were a bad deal, because they cost so much more but with petrol now Ј1.40 a litre and rising, they re starting to come into their own.


This Lexus gets about 69 miles to the gallon. A few years ago that would have been astounding, but these days there are plenty of small diesels that can achieve it and even a few petrols, such as the Fiat 500 TwinAir.

What you get from Lexus Toyota s luxury brand is build quality and comfort far higher than any of those.

LEXUS CT200h

I’m all for eco driving, but I’ve never got to grips with the instruments on hybrids’ dashboards telling you how green you’re being

The CT200h is supposed to appeal to people who d otherwise be looking at a BMW 1-Series or an Audi A3. It starts at Ј23,000 but this is a Premier model with sat-nav, cruise control and a parking camera, and costs Ј30,000. Ouch.

Can they justify that?

First impressions are good. It s the smallest Lexus I ve tested, but just as plush as its bigger brothers, with heated seats, a nearly silent cabin and a lovely driving position. The sat-nav and stereo are operated with a kind of computer mouse on the centre console the first I ve seen on a car.

Lift the rear hatch and there s less space than usual because the hybrid battery s fitted under there, but it s a small difference and made up for by the headroom and knee room.

I m not so happy with the inch-high gear selector, which doesn t feel very manly to use. Like nearly all hybrids this is an automatic (I think Honda s CR-Z is the only manual), so you only use it for selecting EV, Eco, Normal or Sport. EV is the electric mode, which you d only use for rolling round a car park as it soon runs out of juice.

Like nearly all hybrids this is an automatic, so you only use it for selecting EV, Eco, Normal or Sport

Most people will permanently have the car in Eco, since that was why you bought it in the first place; it softens the throttle response to save petrol.

I m all for eco driving, but I ve never got to grips with the instruments on hybrids dashboards telling you how green you re being.

Luckily, when you switch the CT200h to Sport mode (which sharpens throttle response, increases revs and uses the electric motor to boost power), everything goes red and the eco gubbins is replaced by a rev counter. That s more like it.

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