Road Test Lexus CT200h Mike’s Life

10 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Road Test Lexus CT200h Mike’s Life отключены

Road Test — Lexus CT200h

I probably shouldn’t read other people’s road test reports on cars I’m about to try out, but in this case I did.

And I can’t help thinking that many other motoring writers simply don’t “get” the Lexus CT200h. They lament the tardy zero to sixty time, complain that the styling isn’t great and whinge about the handling.

Let’s start with the acceleration. When was the last time you raced from zero to sixty? It just doesn’t happen in real life, does it?

The useful performance area is from 30 or 40 to 70 miles per hour – it’s that segment you use to overtake other cars, and that one you use when joining a motorway. And that’s where the CT200h excels for a small car, using the combination of the electric motor and the petrol engine, with the CVT transmission keeping the gearing right in the torque sweet spot. It’s effective in “normal mode” but switch to “Sport mode” (which also weights up the steering) and you’ll be impressed.

The styling is too subjective to argue about. I don’t think it’s that interesting, but then neither is it in any way offensive, and it’s certainly distinctive in it’s class.

Handling and ride

I don’t understand the complaints about the handling – I think it’s exceptional! I really threw the car around the roundabouts of Milton Keynes, enjoying the super responsiveness “sport mode” delivers, and I thought it cornered superbly – flat and true, and there was even enough power to deliver some on / off throttle steering.

My only gripe in this department is that handling seems to have been prioritised over ride. The low speed ride is just too firm, although once you get up to 50 or more miles per hour, it smooths out, and is always beautifully damped.

But all this is missing the point. Nobody will buy the little Lexus for it’s on limit handling, or it’s performance. They will buy it because it offers the legendary Lexus build quality, together with exceptional fuel economy and emissions, in a segment where Lexus haven’t played before.

They will buy it because it’s incredibly smooth, refined, quiet and comfortable enough for me to blast off 800 miles in a week with no ill effects – not something I would normally contemplate in a car this small.

Audi are renowned for the quality of their interiors, but comparing the CT200h with an A3 made the German car’s dashboard look old fashioned and austere. The Lexus has a raised centre console which puts all the main controls for the Sat Nav, stereo and climate control right at the driver’s hand, and has instruments that change hue from blue to red according to the driving mode selected. There’s even a gauge which changes it’s role from power meter to rev counter when sport mode is chosen. The dashboard top is covered in stitched leather, and the main control screen raises from the dash when the car is started. The whole interior creates a sense of occasion and luxury that no other small hatchback can match.


So let’s talk about fuel economy for a moment. I averaged just over 53MPG during the week. I spent most of the time in “Normal mode” with regular forays into “Sport mode.” I was impressed – that’s a real world figure, achieved driving normally. With my driving style I would expect high 30’s or low 40’s for a petrol powered hatchback. I imagine using “Eco mode” would have made it better still, but I found the throttle response too tardy when that was selected.

It felt like you had to stamp on the pedal to get anywhere, which kind of defeats the object. The car I tested didn’t have cruise control, and I suspect that would have made a significant difference as I spent a lot of time on motorways.

I found the front seats really comfortable, and never felt the need to stop to stretch my legs. The steering wheel is beautifully bound in leather, which is much nicer to use than the wood Lexus sometimes offers, and all the controls were exactly where I wanted them to be. Rear vision is pretty poor from the tiny back window, especially when there’s spray coming off the road, but otherwise the Lexus is easy to see out of.

Rear seat room surprised me, but the boot space was pretty small as the batteries are stored under the floor. There was plenty of room for oddments in the interior, with two large cup holders ideal for phones and wallets! There’s a socket for phone charging and a USB connection to allow music to be played through the excellent stereo.

If I was planning to downsize, I’d go for the CT200h, without question. As with all Lexus products, it feels a little special, a little different, and in this class that means a lot. My biggest single gripe is with the low speed ride, which is just too fidgety for me, and I’d be happy to trade off some of the handling prowess to get a better ride.

That apart, and with the addition of cruise control, I’d plump for the Lexus and enjoy it’s uncannily quiet cruising and better than 50MPG fuel economy.

With thanks to Toyota GB – Lexus Division for the use of the car. See their website for details of cars and dealers: Lexus


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