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CT 200h Model (2011-present)

CT 200h Reviews

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Old 01-22-11, 08:09 AM   #16
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Based on the above....Is it correct to say you guys in Texas have them at the dealers already?
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Old 01-22-11, 09:02 AM   #17
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Its most likely they experienced driving pre-production CT's through a dealer preview or CT drive event. The cars are not ready to go on sale until March.
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Old 01-22-11, 12:40 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by flipside909 View Post
Its most likely they experienced driving pre-production CT's through a dealer preview or CT drive event. The cars are not ready to go on sale until March.
That is correct. I drove a prototype CT at a Lexus event in Dallas several months ago. They had 4 cars there that came from California. There were 12 cars in the US at that time. My dealer let me know where and when it was.

I understand there is an event in Houston Next weekend.
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Old 03-02-11, 09:23 PM   #19
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Our road test for the 2011 Lexus CT 200h includes a full evaluation of the 2011 Lexus CT 200h from the inside out. We evaluate not only engine and handling performance for the 2011 Lexus CT 200h, but also interior cabin and cargo space. Let our comprehensive road test ratings for the 2011 Lexus CT 200h help you decide if a 2011 Lexus CT 200h is right for you.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
4 4 6.3

The CT's powertrain is very similar to that of the Toyota Prius, and since the 2 cars also weigh about the same, acceleration is also similar. While the CT doesn't jump away from a stop, it feels a bit livelier than a Prius, and thereafter picks up quickly and steadily. Acceleration on the go is nearly instantaneous. It's quite strong at around-town speeds, less so in highway passing maneuvers. The car feels even more responsive in Sport mode. Lexus says the CT does 0-60-mph in 9.8 seconds (same as the Prius), and that felt about right in our test drive. Like the Prius, there is a bit of shudder whenever the gas engine kicks in.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
10 10 6.2

No opportunity to measure, but the trip computer on our press-event car indicated we'd averaged 39.8 mpg during a day-long run of mixed city/highway driving. Oddly, the CT is rated at 43 mpg city, 40 mpg highway vs. 51/48 for the similar Prius, with which we've averaged 49-52 mpg. The CT uses regular-grade gas.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
5 5 5.4

Although the Florida roads encountered on our press preview lacked the potholes found in our Chicago environs, it was evident the CT rode fairly stiffly for a luxury car. Even small bumps registered through the firm suspension, but on the plus side, the ride was very well controlled.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
6 6 7.2

Touchy on-center steering makes the CT a bit darty on straight roads, but it also makes the car quick to respond to inputs and feel quite sporty. Sport mode amplifies the effect and adds more weight to the steering at low speeds; perhaps too much for some folks. There's little body lean in fast corners, and the overall impression is of a car that's more nimble than the hybrid norm. Brakes are also a bit touchy, with some surging just before coming to a stop.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
5 5 5.8

Wind and road noise are fairly muted at highway speeds. Bump noise intrudes around town, and the engine groans loudly under acceleration.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
6 4 6.3

With or without the navigation system, the climate controls are mounted high within easy reach, but nearly all are tedious repetitive-step pushbuttons. The audio controls are mounted low and recessed, but are also easy to reach. Without navigation, they consist of simple buttons and *****. With navigation, however, everything but the volume control is absorbed into the dashboard screen, making adjustments more complicated. The navigation system operates off a console "joystick" **** and is not particularly intuitive.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
7 7 7.2

Many surfaces have padding, but it's thin. Available 2-tone color combinations spice up an otherwise sedate cabin, as does the optional light wood, medium wood, or metal trim that can replace the standard black. The standard NuLuxe upholstery does a fair job of looking and feeling like leather, but the optional leather is noticeably richer. Heated seats are optional, but cooled/ventilated ones are not available. The overall effect is one that fits the CT's premium aura.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
5 5 6.5

Sufficient headroom and legroom for adults on comfortable seats, but the seating position is low enough to make ingress and egress awkward for taller folks. When rotated to the side, the sun visors don't come close to covering the side windows, and they neither extend nor have pull-out panels. Visibility is good to the front corners but only average to the sides. Rear-corner visibility is poor with the rear-seat headrests up, but lowering them (a rather awkward process) unveils a helpful rear-quarter window.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
3 3 3.3

CT is considered a compact, and it shows in rear-seat accommodations. There's sufficient headroom, legroom, and toe space for someone nearly 6-feet tall, but legroom virtually disappears if the seat in front is pushed far back. A center rider will be squeezed. The door opening is narrow enough to catch your hip on the way out.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
7 7 4.3

The squared-off hatchback body style makes for a useful cargo area, but a high floor, which sits level with the top of the rear bumper, limits the height of objects that will fit. The optional audio system adds a rear speaker in the side wall that limits the width behind the rear wheel. The rear seat backs fold easily and completely flat as long as the rear headrests have been folded down or the front seats aren't far back. Cabin storage consists of a good sized glovebox, small console box, 2 cupholders, a shallow console tray and small console bin (both of which are lost with the optional navigation system), and map pockets.

Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
6 6 6.1

Lexus is positioning the CT 200h as a fuel-sipping alternative to the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series coupe, and Volvo C30. While it sacrifices ultimate performance to those rivals, its level of luxury and utility meets or beats any of them. With a base sticker price of about $30,000, the CT appears to be a good value when compared to those competitors, if not against its thriftier, roomier, and more practical Prius cousin.

Total Score
Base Base w/navigation system Class Average
64 62 64.6

Total Score: 63

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Old 03-03-11, 05:50 AM   #20
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Lexus has never turned my gears.

For the most part, Lexus cars will run nearly forever. The designs are clean but never memorable, and they are primarily bought by baby boomers — that defining group of people who brought us a summer of love, a decade of yuppies and an imminent Social Security crisis.

Lexus provided their flagship for 20 years, but during that time, we've seen the brand go from young, hip and successful to Buick (the old one). Really, Buick today feels younger and hipper than Lexus.

So it was a pleasant surprise to get into the 2011 Lexus CT 200h, a car that is much more exciting than the cobbled-together letters and numbers of its name suggests.

The CT 200h, a compact gas-electric hybrid, is designed with European sensibilities by a Japanese company and it will become wildly successful in America. Maybe.

It should: the CT 200h is a smart piece of transportation that provides great gas mileage, Lexus elegance and some on-road chops, as far as a hybrid goes.

The jury remains out on hybrids that don't carry a Prius badge. There is a growing band of gas-electric hybrids silently trolling through mall parking lots and on city streets like so many H.G. Wells invisible men, but none has captured the consumers' imagination or willingness to buy in bulk.

This Lexus could change that, because it's more than a hybrid — it's a good car.

Its performance certainly feels more sporty than hybridy. The powertrain includes 2 electric motors, a 1.8-liter VVT-i 4-cylinder engine and an electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission.

The car delivers 134 total horsepower, which is by no means a powerhouse, but a true performance hybrid really doesn't make much sense. Consumers want high gas mileage first and foremost when buying a hybrid.

The CT 200h delivers just that: 43 mpg in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are downright diesel. (The compact VW Jetta hits 42 mpg on the highway.)The cool part about this little Lexus is the way engineers have made it feel fast. (Lexus boasts that this car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 9.8 seconds, which is typically not a boastful number.)

Set the mood

The car sits low to the ground and the body is pretty stiff. Coupled with a programmable suspension system, the CT 200h has a certain racer feel when you muscle around corners and gun the gas. This car also includes a Lexus first: a lateral damping system that helps smooth out the ride even more.

There are 2 driving settings — dynamic and relaxing — that work with the 4 on-demand powertrain modes: EV, Eco, Normal and Sport.

The settings adjust how the car reacts to the driver's input with noticeable differences in each setting. EV mode means it will run on electric power (the CT 200h can drive up to 28 mph on just electricity), while the modes allow for incrementally more aggressive driving.

When you switch to the Sport mode, the instrument panel lights switch from blue to red.

The electric motor assists the gas engine on aggressive takeoffs and that instant torque is noticeable, though unheard. This car is extremely quiet, even when the gas engine is on, which sometimes I found difficult to determine by ear.

Lexus has adopted a number of features, such as an electric air conditioner, LED headlamps and a juice-sipping stereo, to draw less power from the nickel-hydride battery pack. The basic idea is to use gasoline to move the car, not crank the stereo, cool the cabin or run the steering wheel.

Talking points

There is also some eco-cred throughout the cabin, something future Lexus owners will mention at every possible occasion.

"How's work?"

"It's going almost as well as my bamboo charcoal-based resign diaphragm speakers in my Lexus."

"Umm, great."

"Did I mention that my new Lexus also uses bioplastic that is 30% plant-based polyethylene terephthalate."

"Only 6 times today."

But owners should be proud of this car. The hatchback design provides more than 14 cubic feet of space in the back, while still giving front and rear passengers lots of room, despite the compact design.

Plus, the exterior has great lines and sharp edges everywhere. The wheels are pushed out to the corners, but it still looks well balanced.

The face is aggressive, but not overly so like many compacts coming out. It's an adult's car with a sporty edge to it. The high belt line and tiny rear window, while not my favorite feature, look good on the CT 200h.

Inside, the cockpit is pure Lexus. The excellent leather seats are snug and keep you in place very well. The 2-tiered instrument panel is modern and crisp and allows you to switch the hybrid gauge to a tachometer when the car is put in Sport Mode.

The 8-inch display at the top of the center stack is operated by the Remote Touch feature on the center console.

It takes a few minutes to adjust to this system, which operates similarly to a mouse pad, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy to use. (The screen annoyingly would not stay on the page I wanted, constantly switching back to the map if left alone too long.)

Bucking the boomers

There were little reminders that this car is still a hybrid, which, for the most part, I forgot much of the time. That's about as big of a compliment you can give to any hybrid. It just feels like a car, a really well-appointed car with all of the modern features you'd expect in it.

But all the while, its regenerative brakes are pushing energy back into the battery pack, the 2 electric motors are running, nudging the car along its away. Everything is seamless and operates in the background.

Part of the success of the Prius is how the driving experience reminds you every day that you're in a hybrid. It embraces its unique place in the car market while most hybrids try to blend in to the scenery.

The CT 200h stands out for a much different reason. It's a hybrid that delivers good fuel economy, has a starting price under $30,000 and it's still fun to drive. Baby boomers may not like it, and that might be a good thing. In a generation, they'll be dead.

Last edited by GS69; 03-03-11 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 03-05-11, 10:38 AM   #21
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xfirechief, I bought one yesterday and I'm your size. I tend to ride pretty reclined, and it is really comfortable for me (minus the right arm rest being too far back). If you sit upright.... probably not as much.
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Old 03-06-11, 04:42 PM   #22
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it looks like a Mazda 3 5dr from 03-08 even with the navi coming out of the center of the dash like the Mazda
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Old 03-10-11, 06:35 AM   #23
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Every car should be built to the standards that Lexus set for its CT 200h hybrid hatchback.

To make certain this car would not be confused in any way with the Toyota Prius, from which it shares the hybrid powertrain, Lexus’ chief engineer reinforced, bracketed, gussetted and braced the foundation of this car to the point that it would be a qualified track car.

The duality of this car – enhanced fuel economy but a pleasure to drive – shows the intent of Lexus to move toward a sharper performance edge to its vehicles.

Pricing starts at $29,995 and can go to almost $40,000 with all the factory options. And Lexus has created a couple dozen accessories, including a “device” holder to keep a smart phone secure and accessible.

The CT is a hot-looking hatch – nothing like Prius inside or out. It has EPA fuel economy ratings of 43 mpg city and 40 highway, which is less than Prius but forgivable.

The CT is more about fun, than conservation. It is slightly larger and heavier than Prius, has more emphasis on luxury and doesn’t use low-rolling resistance tires. Even with more soundproofing materials, the CT is fairly trim at 3,130 pounds.

The Atkinson-cycle, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and motor generator spin up a combined 134 horsepower. The full hybrid system applies the expected features to save fuel and emissions, such as regenerative braking, engine start-stop, energy recapture on deceleration and on downhills and EV, Eco, Normal or Sport driving modes. Under ideal battery-charge and terrain conditions, the CT can be driven on battery power only about 1 mile up to about 23 mph.

The ride quality is tight and well damped with little transfer of road harshness. The CT is front-wheel drive but acts like all-wheel drive when pushed hard along a curvy road. Lift the throttle in a corner and there is no upset to the balance of the car.

The chassis is bolstered with front and rear suspension braces, while a peppering of spot welds tighten areas that typically flex when the car is under dynamic stress. A tight car is a quiet car.

For aerodynamics, the underside has 9 spats, covers and moldings to cheat wind and resistance.

Full-on acceleration to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds is not overly demonstrative, but the peak 650 volts give plenty of power for freeway merging. The continuously variable automatic transmission – CVT – doesn’t have a mode to simulate stepped gear changes so the sportiness will be lessened for some drivers. (Honda offers a 6-speed manual with its Insight hybrid coupe and this Lexus calls out for the option, too. Its CVT causes the typical “motor-boating” effect, which on hard acceleration makes the engine wail like a French police siren until the power catches up.)

Driving efficiency can be monitored in the eco-meter, which through virtual imagery turns into a tachometer in Sport mode. Like many hybrids now, the gauge illumination changes from blue in economical driving to red in sporty driving.

The interior introduces a new lightweight leather-like material Lexus calls NuLuxe. The front seats are sport-sedan supportive with good bolstering and 10-way power adjustment for the driver. The seats are long-distance comfortable with a breathable, perforated center. Leather is available, but may seem out of place in such an environmentally sensitive car. Much of the interior materials are recycled products and will be recycled again before the car goes to the crusher. There are two wood trims, including bamboo, and a metallic treatment.

The CT fulfills a general interest in environmental sensitivity and this sporty, 40-mpg Lexus should make a lot of new friends for the brand.

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Old 03-10-11, 07:16 AM   #24
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I think when the other options shown in the owners manual become available i.e. heated steering wheel, park assist, etc., a loaded CT will be well into the low $40k range with all the goodies.
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Old 03-15-11, 06:43 AM   #25
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The CT200h is both the least expensive and most fuel-efficient Lexus you can buy. At $29,995, it undercuts the IS250 by $3500, and its EPA numbers of 43 mpg city, 40 mpg highway easily surpass the HS250h’s 35/34 mpg ratings.

The true energy miser won’t be tempted out of his Prius by this car, because the Prius gets even better fuel economy (51/48 mpg). The Prius is also has a much roomier rear seat and more cargo space.

Against that, the Lexus justifies its price premium with a premium-level interior, and a superior driving experience. Standard is a surprisingly convincing—and cruelty-free!—faux leather, while the real stuff is optional. The well-finished cabin is nicely padded throughout, and the caramel-and-black color scheme in my test car was richer looking than the usual gray or beige. The premium model includes a huge sunroof and seat heaters, while active cruise, a backup camera, and navigation with weather and traffic are optional. Like other recent Lexus models, the navigation-equipped CT200h uses a mouse-like controller to access items on the pop-up screen. It’s a little weird but not hard to adjust to. The controller sits on the raised, sweeping center console, which is kind of cool even if it makes the already-small interior feel even more confined. (The back seat is particularly snug, with head- and legroom in short supply.)

The CT200h uses the same 1.8-liter Aktinson-cycle 4-cylinder with battery assist as the Prius. There’s 134 hp on tap, and 142 pound-feet of torque, fed through a continuously variable automatic. As in the Prius and the HS250h, the shifter is a dweeby little nub with a separate button for Park; perhaps because of the unusual shift pattern, the car beeps like a garbage truck whenever it’s in reverse. Again we ask: Why can’t a hybrid have a conventional gearshift?

There’s also a choice of driving modes: EV (which you’re kicked out of before you even leave the parking lot), Eco (which totally kills throttle response), Normal, and Sport (which calls up higher steering efforts and quicker throttle mapping). You might leave it in Sport all the time, except that you have to re-select it each time you start the car, and it’s really not that much different from Normal mode.

Even in Sport mode, the CT200h doesn’t live up to its maker’s billing as a sporty hybrid. It’s just too slow. Lexus puts the 0-60 time at a shade under 10 seconds, and the CVT has the tiny 4-cylinder droning at the top of its rev band when you ask for quick acceleration. In mellower driving, the electric motor’s torque helps somewhat to mask the weak engine. The chassis is a happier affair, with steering that’s far better than the lifeless Prius’s, and an absence of body roll—the latter at a cost of considerable impact harshness.

Sorry Lexus, but the sporty offering in this—admittedly tiny—segment is the Audi A3 TDI. Virtually the same size, and listing for about the same price, the Audi may be only 1 second quicker to 60, but it puts nearly 100 pound feet of additional torque at your disposal, meaning it drives much more energetically. It also has more accomplished chassis tuning. The A3 TDI’s city fuel economy (30 mpg) doesn’t come close to the Lexus, but the Audi beats it on the highway, with 42 mpg.

The Lexus HS250h may find an audience willing to trade some Prius practicality for a little Lexus luxury, but a sporty hybrid it’s not.

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Old 03-15-11, 03:08 PM   #26
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here's a review that is pretty thorough and well written:


the most important tidbit i found interesting was the information regarding the 0-60 times. lexus of usa confirmed with the author that the testing was done on "normal" mode and that possibly the higher output "sport" mode may produce quicker times. of course, we didn't buy this car for 0-60 times, but it may just quiet down some of the gripe regarding worse 0-60 times than the prius.
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Old 03-24-11, 07:30 PM   #27
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Summary Rating: Complete Rating

Styling (75%)
Accessories (74%)
Space and Access (72%)
Comfort (77%)

Performance (65%)
Driving Dynamics (77%)
Safety (75%)
General Appreciation (80%)
Calgary, Alberta – Lexus has just introduced a new ‘gateway’ vehicle to their lineup. Considered the entry point for the brand, the CT 200h is meant to attract young upwardly mobile urbanites to the premium marque while also providing the older, “well to do” segment, with a highly practical luxury vehicle.

The 3 keys to success
3 key words define the CT 200h: handling, technology, style. These three targets were the focus during development. As a result, the car exhibits superior handling prowess, the latest in Lexus Hybrid Drive technology and the future iteration of Lexus’s L-Finesse design language.

There’s a 4th key to mention too, and it’s value. The CT 200h is tagged in Canada at $30,950, and depending on option packages, ascends to $39,350 for the chart topping Technology version. Independent of the option packages—referred to as Touring, Premium and Technology—the CT 200h is a well-equipped luxury car.

Key 1: handling
Getting the ride-versus-handling equation right is a challenge in any car but it’s particularly tough when a smooth ride is essential due to the ‘luxury car’ status of the vehicle in question. It seems the eggheads at Lexus got it right.

This 5-seat sportback CT 200h delivers a highly composed and surprisingly absorbent ride quality that I thought was quite commendable for a vehicle that’s described by Lexus as “fun to drive”. The ride dynamics are taut and quite Euro-like but not at all harsh or intrusive.

Lexus set us free on a cone course to test the handling limits of the CT 200, and I came away impressed. The car is fairly tenacious in tight corners while responding predictably and immediately despite noticeable body lean due to the forgiving nature of the suspension.

While on the topic of underpinnings, the CT 200h felt solid and tightly assembled when road abuse was encountered; and in general terms, the car is remarkably quiet. Very little road or wind noise permeates the cabin, even at high speeds on wet pavement with snow tires.

Key 2: technology
It’s no secret that the CT 200h utilizes the same Lexus Hybrid Drive technology that powers their HS 250h sedan and similar to the Toyota Prius's Hybrid Synergy Drive; this setup just gets better with time. It transitions between power sources seamlessly while the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) smoothly manages the flow of power en-route to the front wheels.

The overall operational refinement of the powerplant is pleasing, and consistent with the vehicle’s upscale positioning. If there’s a downside to be found beneath the hood, it is the genteel nature of the beast.

The CT 200h, while being fun to drive, is not a powerful vehicle by any stretch. It’s adequately powered, and while about-town driving is satisfying, the highway stints can leave one yearning for more gusto. The passing lane on an uphill stretch is not where the CT 200h stands out. Fill its 5 seats with bums, and the car will struggle to meet expectations.

Key three: styling
There’s definitely no such struggle when it comes to style. The CT 200h displays bold lines and plenty of fresh styling cues that define it as a Lexus without subjecting it to “me too” symbolism. And while I’m not captivated by the CT’s looks, I do believe that Lexus has come up with a level of distinction that’ll draw 2nd glances and inquiries around its pedigree.

In addition to catching eyes, the CT 200h will catch plenty of cargo while leaving space to comfortably seat four adults. It can handle 5 occupants in a pinch, however, the three occupying the rear seat had better be friends or exceptionally tolerant of contact; this isn’t a wide vehicle.

Despite potential rear seat crowding, front seat occupants are certain to appreciate the substantial support and side bolstering that these perches provide. After hours behind the wheel, I couldn’t be more pleased with their comfort.

Thanks to its 4 wide doors, ingress and egress is less contortion-inducing than one may think; and with little effort, the rear seat folds flat to create a cargo hold capable of ingesting lots of gear. When the bench is in place, up to 405 litres of volume are at one's disposal. That’s pretty decent given the diminutive size of the CT 200h.

Wrapping the CT 200h
I think that Lexus is onto something here, something quite satisfying but only if frugality and environmental care outweigh acceleration and speed in one’s hierarchy of automotive needs. The CT 200h is a highly enjoyable vehicle to drive in everyday traffic or out on the open road, lest you live life in the passing lane.

It delivers a quiet, stable ride that’s absorbent yet sufficiently taut to give credibility to its “fun to drive” claim while inspiring confidence in corners and switchbacks. Thanks to its hybrid technology, the CT 200h is rated at a most impressive 4.6L/100km of combined city and highway driving.

My experience in such environments was more in the range of 6.6L/100km. Some of the offset is due to my less than frugal driving habits and I suspect some may be attributable to the shiny newness of the cars we drove. They weren’t fully broken-in and had not likely reached their peak of efficiency. Still in all, the differential between the posted and realized figures is significant.

There’s plenty of competition in the $30-40K range of upscale compact wagons and sportbacks. Lexus has just upped the ante and put the others on notice with their luxury hybrid sportback, an industry 1st.

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Old 03-29-11, 04:42 PM   #28
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And now for something completely different from Lexus… The Lexus website says that the CT 200h is “unlike any hybrid you have ever known,” but this rather small hatchback explores new territory for the brand, as well. Well-known for their posh and isolating sedans and SUVs, the CT 200h instead aims to be sporty to drive, as well as being an efficient hybrid.

The CT 200h is powered by a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine. The batteries and 2 electric motors can propel the car on electric juice alone under low-load conditions. While this 134-hp powertrain is very similar to the 1 in the Toyota Prius, the heavier and less-aerodynamic Lexus can’t match the Toyota’s fuel economy. EPA estimates for the CT 200h are 43 mpg city, 40 mpg highway; the Prius is 51/48. (We averaged 44 mpg overall with our 2010 Prius.) The other small Lexus hybrid, the 187-hp HS 250h, returned 31 mpg in our testing.

Upscale hatchbacks like the CT 200h haven’t done well in the United States. For example, even though the Volkswagen Golf is an excellent car, the Jetta sedan vastly outsells it. The CT 200h’s most direct competitors, the Audi A3 and Volvo C30, haven’t set American sales charts ablaze. Intended originally for European and Japanese markets, Lexus must be hoping that the CT 200h will grab fuel-conscious buyers worried about gas prices or recession-wary consumers lured in by a Lexus with a sticker starting under $30K.

You might think there’s another group of potential buyers. No doubt there are plenty of Prius owners out there who would like (and could afford) a hybrid with a nicer interior and more aggressive styling. The Lexus delivers that, but those Prius owners would have to be willing to give up their car’s roomy interior and take a considerable fuel economy hit for the style and sharper steering of a CT 200h.

Not surprisingly, the typical CT 200h will cost more than the just-under-$30,000 base price. Our CT 200h Premium has a moon roof and heated seats. An accessory package of vaguely-useful bits (cargo net, cargo mat, wheel locks) brought the total to $31,012. That money doesn’t buy you leather seats; our car has NuLuxe seats, a synthetic leather substitute.

1st thoughts? The CT 200h is sportier than the average Lexus, but that isn’t really a big stretch. If your idea of “sporty” is “quick,” this isn’t the car for you. The interior is tight with a narrow driving position, cramped rear seat, and not much cargo space. We got 42 mpg with it on the mostly-highway trip home from the dealer.

Once the car’s broken in, we’ll see how well it does in our instrumented fuel economy tests. We’ll also see if this sporty hatchback matches the expectations of its Lexus badge.

—Tom Mutchler
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Old 03-30-11, 07:17 PM   #29
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Lexus recently introduced an all-new car, the CT 200h, and it's a hybrid in more ways than 1.

Unless you're a descendant of Gregor Mendel or his peas, it's likely you think of hybrids in strictly automotive terms.

But let us not forget that the term has long been more broadly applied to the result of 2 dissimilar entities being combined. Think of the pluot, a sweet combination of the plum and apricot.

To that end, this 5-door hatchback is a hybrid of performance and efficiency, entry-level economics and stylish luxury and, unfortunately, Lexus and cost cutting.

The CT 200h sits at the bottom of the Lexus lineup, and the company hopes to use the car as a gateway drug to lure younger consumers into Lexus dealerships for the 1st time. Frankly it's surprising Lexus didn't come out with this car sooner.

The car starts at $29,995 for a well-equipped base model, and a short options list can top out a CT at an eyelash shy of $40,000. This price range, the hatchback styling and the younger, more urban target audience mean its competitors become other premium compact cars such as the Audi A3, Volvo C30 and BMW 1 Series.

Putting the "hybrid" in this hybrid is the same drivetrain that's in the current-generation Prius. In this application, the Environmental Protection Agency rates fuel economy at 43 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Over about 250 miles, I averaged almost 38 mpg.

The engine is a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder piece that puts out 98 horsepower. Working in tandem with this engine is an electric motor with a maximum output of 80 horsepower (60 kilowatts).

Yet the total horsepower for this Lexus is 134. Do not adjust your calculators; 98 plus 80 still doesn't equal 134. Lexus says the car puts out only that much because the nickel-metal hydride battery is capable of transferring only 36 horsepower from the electric motor, hence the total of 134 horsepower.

Drivers can choose how to wield this power using the standard Drive Mode Selection feature. Using a dial on the center console, drivers can choose from Eco, Normal (the default setting) and Sport settings.

The Eco mode limits your ability to accelerate and restricts the air conditioning to maximize efficiency. Sport mode bumps the electric motor's output to its maximum voltage, firms up the steering and allows the gas engine to rev high. It delays the point at which the CT's standard traction control and stability control intervene. Unfortunately, these aids cannot be turned off completely.

Putting the CT into Sport mode also switches the efficiency gauge next to the speedometer into a tachometer and changes the backlighting to an ominous red.

Although this display change is a nifty trick, it has no practicality. Knowing your engine speed is useful in other cars, but that's because you can control the gear you're in. However, this Lexus uses a single-speed, continuously variable transmission (CVT) to route its power to the front wheels. In this instance, rpm is meaningless.

The transmission worked fine in Eco and Normal modes; it was content to keep the engine operating at a low speed, making things quiet in the cabin. Only when switched to Sport and the engine was allowed to explore higher rpm did things get uncharacteristically noisy for a Lexus.

Had Lexus added the ability to simulate shifts, as seen on other CVTs, it's reasonable to think passenger enjoyment and driver engagement would have been greater.

Also making things unfortunately loud given the Lexus pedigree was road noise. You notice too much of it while driving on the freeway. Purely anecdotal evidence points to the insubstantial body panels and doors that close with a thin sound that might be acceptable on a low-end Toyota Yaris but not a Lexus that can run you $40,000.

Noisy oversights aside, driving the CT can actually be fun. It's here that 1 can appreciate the, ahem, "hybridization" of fuel efficiency and driving dynamics. Can you say that about your Prius?

With a 0-60 acceleration time of 9.8 seconds, this car views performance through the lens of handling prowess rather than brute strength. Neck-snappingly powerful it isn't, not even close.

But the CT's balance, composure and communicative steering make for an entertaining dance partner on twisty roads. This was especially true with car in Sport mode. It gripped well throughout turns, showed only hints of understeer and generally made the most of its independent rear suspension.

The inside of the CT also welcomes spirited driving. The seats are wonderfully supportive and comfortable. The size and shape of the steering wheel merits a mention. I wanted to take it with me to my next car.

The rest of the cabin has a substantive, upscale feel to it with 1 exception.

Base CTs come with a stereo system that looks like it was pulled out of the original Lexus LS 400 (circa 1989). But at least it's attached to decent speakers. Adding the optional navigation system is a pricey venture at $3,545, but the upgrade includes a better sound system and a backup camera.

The $32,325 CT 200h Premium I tested lacked the navigation system but did have fake leather seats, XM satellite radio, eight air bags and Bluetooth connectivity. A moon roof, heated front seats and a backup camera that's cleverly placed in the rear-view mirror were options.

Lexus expects to sell 1,000 a month, but hitting this goal will depend on whether enough buyers can look past the CT's noise and pricey options list and find that it strikes the right balance of economics and luxury.

Which it does. It's a hybrid hybrid. Gregor Mendel would be proud.
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Old 03-30-11, 07:25 PM   #30
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Vehicle Style: Hybrid luxury hatchback
Price: $49,990 (plus on-road costs)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 4.1 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 5.0 l/100km

What's hot: Frugal fuel consumption, open-road dynamics.
What's not: Not exactly quick, slightly cramped back seat.
X-Factor: The CT 200h F Sport is a bowser-shy hatchback that doesn't compromise on luxury – perfect for the well-to-do commuter.

The arrival of the CT 200h is a major milestone for Lexus. It's the Japanese company's 1st foray into the luxury hatchback segment, and its 1st hybrid-only model line.

It's much more than a gussied-up Prius though. A unique platform and a premium interior gives it its own personality, and its chassis dynamics are a delight.

Quality: The CT 200h's cabin signals Lexus' new interior direction, and aside from a button-heavy centre console it's easy on the eyes and ergonomically sound.

Despite being the cheapest in the Lexus stable, the CT 200h receives the same high level of build quality enjoyed by other Lexus models and the same premium materials.

Comfort: The front seats offer a good blend of comfort and support, however only the driver's seat is electrically adjustable. All controls fall easily to hand though, and there's plenty of legroom and headroom up front.

Headroom is a little tighter in the back seat, but it's otherwise spacious back there. A lack of face-level air outlets for rear passengers may be a disadvantage during a hot Australian summer.

Equipment: The CT 200h F Sport sits in the middle of the CT range, and gets cruise control, sat nav, a reversing camera, Bluetooth telephony, heated front seats, a 10-speaker stereo with 6-CD stacker, dual-zone climate control, trip computer, auto-on headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a trip computer and auto-dimming rear view mirrors.

Storage: The CT's boot is rather shallow but can take up to 375 litres of luggage, or 985 litres with the 60/40 split fold rear seats folded flat.

Driveability: The CT 200h's 100kW petrol-electric hybrid powertrain produces adequate performance for urban duty. There's enough power to keep with traffic when accelerating down highway on-ramps and moving away from traffic lights, but highway overtaking can require careful planning.

The CVT gearbox is smooth, while the transition between petrol and electric power (and vice-versa) is barely perceptible.

The CT 200h can operate under electric-only power in EV mode, although only up to 45km/h and for a maximum range of around 2km. However, even without using EV mode it's not difficult to get fuel consumption below 5.0 l/100km.

Refinement: There's some tyre roar from the low-profile Yokohama dB tyres, but thanks to a whisper-quiet powertrain and a range of sound-deadening measures the CT 200h is tranquil inside.

Suspension: F Sport models get firmer springs and dampers, as well as chassis-stiffening Performance Dampers mounted between each suspension tower.

The result is a ride that's surprisingly stiff – perhaps too stiff for average-quality Australian roads. On the plus side, the CT 200h has great grip when hustled down a country lane and the electrically-assisted steering feels quite direct (but a little too light).

Braking: The F Sport's brakes are shared with the rest of the CT 200h range, and have a lot of initial bite thanks to the regenerative braking system. They're very responsive though, and certainly inspire confidence.

ANCAP rating: Not tested

Safety features: 8 airbags (dual front, dual knee, dual front side and full-length curtain), 3-point seatbelts (front pretensioning), ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control and traction control are standard.


Warranty: 4 years/100,000km

Service costs: TBC (unavailable at time of launch)

Audi A3 Sportback 1.8 TFSI automatic ($45,400) – It's got more power, more torque and retails for less than the CT 200h F Sport. It's got a greater thirst for petrol though, and when optioned to the same spec as the F Sport it's easily the more expensive machine.

BMW 118d automatic ($44,500) – The 118d has grin-inducing RWD dynamics and a grunty (and thrifty) diesel to its credit. It's pretty bare in base specification though, and gets pricey when optioned up. (see 1 Series reviews)

MINI Cooper D Chilli automatic ($41,050) – It's cheaper than the Lexus by a fair margin, but also a lot smaller and less prestigious. Its combined fuel economy of 5.0 l/100km is good, but not a match for the CT 200h. (see ____ reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.


It isn't quick enough to be considered a genuine hot hatch, but the CT 200h's true merit lies within its fuel-sipping hybrid powerplant. If you want to save fuel but don't want to sacrifice your mod-cons, the CT should definitely be on your shortlist.

The stiff performance-oriented suspension of the F Sport may not be to everyone's tastes, but there are other models in the CT range that have a more comfortable ride. All told, the CT 200h is an excellent addition to the Lexus line-up.
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