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Lexus CT200h 2014 review: road test

The previous model was okay but we like the sharper styling of the new one.
EXPERT RATING
7
What constitutes a luxury car? In days gone by it was lashings of leather and wood grain trim. The new Lexus CT200h has neither, at least in entry grade “Luxury” form

What constitutes a luxury car? In days gone by it was lashings of leather and wood grain trim. The new Lexus CT200h has neither, at least in entry grade “Luxury” form – yet Lexus still refers to the car as a luxury hatch.

It’s not just about the car, Lexus Australia boss Sean Hanley explains, it’s also about the little extras. Such things as a free loan car, roadside assistance, pick up and drop off service and of course the Encore privileges program that provides access to concert tickets and other exclusive events. Still...

Price / Features

The line-up has been rationalised from four to three models, but the starting price remains the same $39,990 even though it includes $3000 in extra value. Entry Luxury model starts with cloth trim, leather wheel/shifter, dual zone climate air, 16 inch alloys, cruise control, auto lights and wipers (manual interior mirror), daytime running lights, a reverse camera, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth phone plus 10-speaker audio (up from six speakers).

BUT the Luxury model misses out on navigation, lumbar adjust, electric adjust/heated seats – a number of enhancement packs are available that deliver these but boost the price. Popular F-Sport is priced from $48,990 while the top of the line Sports Luxury is $56,990 – both include extra value.

Engine / Transmission

No changes here. It’s still the same 1.8-litre hybrid, petrol-electric powertrain -- same as that in the Prius. Essentially the CT is the Lexus version of the Corolla hybrid that we don’t take here. 

Combined the petrol and electric motors produce a maximum of 100kW of power and 207Nm of torque, delivered to the front wheels through a CVT style, continuously variable transmission -- minus paddle shifts or a manual mode. Apparently they offer paddle shifts in Japan but without any stepped gear ratios they offer no real benefit apart from making a bit of noise.

The CT can operate in electric only mode up to a speed of 45km/h or with very light throttle application at greater speeds.

Safety

Scores a full five stars for crash safety with eight airbags including knee bags for both the driver and front passenger as well as plenty of driver assistance systems.

Driving

They’ve just given the car a mid-life makeover, with some cosmetic changes but quite a few mechanical tweaks under the skin. The result is a car that still produces an amazing 4.1 litres/100km, but in a more refined manner, with a more supple ride and perceptibly quieter interior.

The previous model was okay. We like the sharper styling of the new one, particularly the honeycomb grille of the F-Sport model with its larger rear spoiler and contrasting black roof. It’s front-wheel drive but handles well enough and can be punted hard with confidence. Still needs more performance though. Around town it’s not an issue, but out on the open road it’s uninspiring.

Fit and finish is first rate, with self-healing paint in case of scratches while the fit out inside is second to none - like all Lexus vehicles. F-Sport looks the part but needs a little extra in the tank to give some model separation. Higher grades feature Enform connectivity that provides access to a number of apps via a smartphone.

The system, still in its infancy, will be rolled out across the Lexus range, with features like Fuel Finder that searches the nearest servos for fuel price and availability. Push of a button and the nav system will take you straight there. The satnav now includes warnings for school zones and speed cameras as well as SUNA traffic updates – but still no digital speedo nor will the new navigation system keep you informed of the current speed limit. Maybe next time?

Verdict

It’s a bit quieter and more refined and arguably better value, but unless it just has to be a hybrid you could do better.

Pricing Guides

$28,888
Based on 13 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$20,990
Highest Price
$34,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
CT200h F Sport 1.8L, PULP, CVT AUTO $24,888 – 34,900 2014 Lexus CT 2014 CT200h F Sport Pricing and Specs
CT200h Luxury 1.8L, PULP, CVT AUTO $20,990 – 24,880 2014 Lexus CT 2014 CT200h Luxury Pricing and Specs
CT200h Prestige 1.8L, PULP, CVT AUTO $21,010 – 26,620 2014 Lexus CT 2014 CT200h Prestige Pricing and Specs
CT200h Sports Luxury 1.8L, PULP, CVT AUTO $24,200 – 29,920 2014 Lexus CT 2014 CT200h Sports Luxury Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7