Review: Lexus CT 200h (2011)
Upmarket hybrid hatchback powered by the same hybrid system as the Toyota Prius. Exceptional front seat legroom. High quality interior.
Poor ride and handling. Slow performance. Lack of any driving pleasure.
Lexus CT 200h (2011): At A Glance
- New prices start from £25,150, brokers can source from £23,717
- Contract hire deals from £270.98 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 15–20
- On average it achieves 75% of the official MPG figure
Lexus is very proud (and very keen) to point out that the CT 200h was the world’s first 'full hybrid' to be launched in the premium hatchback market. The 'quiet revolution' as it called it. The Japanese firm has taken the technology used in the Toyota Prius and applied it to a hatchback that sits alongside the likes of the BMW 1 Series and the latest Audi A3.
It's powered by a 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine alongside an electric motor and together they develop 134PS - similar to the power from a BMW 116i. The hybrid system is incredibly clever and can operate in petrol and electric modes alone as well as a combination of both.
As a result it's incredibly efficient and according to the official figures it can average 68.9mpg with CO2 emissions of just 94g/km. The later S model, introduced when the CT200h was revised in 2014, is even more efficient with economy of 78.5mpg.
The CT 200h is most at home in the city. It's very refined at low speeds and thanks to the fact it can run purely on electric power up to 25mph it's very quiet too. The torque is available from a standstill too which makes for effortless performance away from the lights but with no noise. It all seems very impressive and every inch the luxury hatchback Lexus claims.
The problems arise once you leave traffic-laden streets and head to open roads. Here the CT 200h fails to impress with sluggish performance and poor steering while the CVT gearbox means the engine sits at high revs when you accelerate with any vigour. Not exactly in keeping with the refinement the CT 200h is supposed to offer.
On the motorway it's slightly better but it lacks in-gear performance and if you're heavy with your right foot, fuel consumption quickly drops.
The CT 200h is certainly different from other premium hatchbacks thanks to its advanced technology. If you live in London and regularly travel into the congestion charge zone it could make sense. However it's not cheap with prices starting at around £24k and for many a diesel version of a rival hatchback will probably be a better buy.
What does a Lexus CT 200h (2011) cost?
Lexus CT 200h (2011): What's It Like Inside?
There's no denying that the interior of the CT 200h is well built, but it's not especially modern, which is a surprise given the cutting edge technology that powers the CT 200h. The design is pretty forgettable and there's very little that grabs your attention. The small metal gear lever is a nice touch as is the leather steering wheel but apart from that it's fairly drab.
Lexus says the interior majors on luxury with features such as electric windows which slow down for the last few millimetres, to minimise the sound of closure.
Which makes the fact it has a foot operated parking brake, rather than an electric version, even more baffling. That aside, the CT 200h is very quiet on the move and there's good refinement but it's not spectacularly better than other premium hatchback this size. However, there's plenty of space and a good driving position too.
Other positive are the impressive finish - the CT 200h feels a high quality product, but sadly it lacks sophistication and style compared to other premium hatchbacks such as the latest Audi A3. Small details such as the dated climate control display (which looks like it's come straight from the 90s) and the clunky infotainment system are further evidence.
The latter uses a strange 'mouse' mounted (this is part of the satellite navigation system fitted as standard to the SE-L Premier models), on the central stack which looks bulky while navigating the system on the central display is awkward. Controlling the mouse when you're on rough and bumpy roads is frustratingly difficult too.
Boot space has often been an issue with hybrids with luggage space taken up by the batteries but there are no such problems with the CT 200h. The hybrid battery as located as low possible beneath the boot floor so it still has 375 litres - more than a BMW 1 Series - while folding the rear seats increase this to 985 litres. The boot is usefully wide too plus there's only a small load lip
Equipment from launch (2011):
SE-I is the entry level trim and comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, rain sensitive wipers, active brake lights, push button start, front foglights, LED daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, a USB port and Bluetooth.
SE-L adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors and cruise control.
F-Sport adds aero front and rear bumpers, flared side skirts, a deeper rear spoiler, dark-finish 17-inch alloy wheels, aluminium pedals, scuff plates, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, F-Sport black leather upholstery, electrically folding and auto-dimming door mirrors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with parking monitor, F-Sport steering wheel and the lateral damper system.
SE-L Premier models get LED headlights, smart entry and start, electric drivers seat adjustment, a Mark Levinson 13-speaker audio system, HDD satellite navigation, remote touch control and a rear-view camera.
Child seats that fit a Lexus CT 200h (2011)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Lexus CT 200h (2011) like to drive?
Unlike other premium hatchbacks there are no conventional petrol or diesel engines in the Lexus range - just the CT 200h hybrid.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system combines a 1.8-litre VVT-i four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 98PS with an electric motor to give a system that has 134PS in total. The electric motor works in tandem with the petrol engine to boost acceleration or can actually power the car on its own when it's in EV mode.
At low speeds the electric motor gives the CT 200h a huge advantage over conventionally powered cars. It has 207Nm of torque and this is available from zero rpm so performance from a standstill is incredibly quick and effortless too. In town it makes the Lexus feel swift and it's great for nipping in and out of traffic.
It also fees very refined helped by the fact the engine is mounted on a four-point suspension system, with the rubber used for the mounts optimised for suppressing noise and vibration.
On clearer roads the CT 200h isn't as impressive though. It looks pretty good on paper with a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds but it's not an enjoyable or pleasurable car to drive. The steering is very artificial and lacks any feel while the hybrid system seems sluggish and unresponsive at higher speeds. On the motorway it can make passing a long and drawn out affair, even when you have your foot to the floor.
It's not helped by the CVT gearbox which seems to sap a lot of the power. It also means that any acceleration is met with continual high engine revs along with plenty of noise. It's not a pleasant sound either and not what you'd expect from a supposedly 'luxury' hatchback. The ride isn't anything to write home about either and it particularly struggles on rough roads which are all too common in the UK.
There is the F Sport version which has performance dampers, designed to absorb body vibrations, give a more linear steering feel and improve ride comfort (it's also an option on the SE-L). It makes the CT 200h more comfortable but it's still not especially good to drive and while the steering has more weight, there's barely any more feel.
Of course it's the economy figure of 68.9mpg that really stands out along with CO2 emissions of just 94g/km. This means the CT 200h is free to tax and cheap for company car drivers too. It's also exempt from the central London congestion charge.
|1.8 Hybrid||64–74 mpg||10.3 s||82–101 g/km|
|1.8 Hybrid S||74–79 mpg||10.3 s||82–87 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Lexus CT 200h (2011)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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