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Lexus CT200h 2011 Review

The exterior design doesn't shout "alternative'' and the inside doesn't feel as if it's made from recycled plastic bottles.

TO have a chance of working, the Lexus CT200h has to be the most convincing hybrid yet, and in many ways it is.

Although it relies on Prius technology, it distances itself by being, in every other respect, a mainstream pitch at the small luxury buyer.

Unlike the Prius, it's attractive inside and out. The exterior design doesn't shout "alternative'' and the inside doesn't feel as if it's made from recycled plastic bottles. There's a freshly styled dash and, overall, it mimics the cockpit feel of the IS junior executive, which is a plus.

Against its rivals, the super frugal A3 1.9 TDIe or BMW 118d, it's slightly heavier but a little less thirsty.

If it were more expensive, as hybrids have been in the past, then it would attract only buyers committed to the technology because it would take forever to recoup the difference at the pump. By taking the premium out of the price, Lexus has levelled the playing field.

It also has sharpened the driving experience itself, with pleasing steering and likable dynamic qualities.

The downside is a firm ride that may not offer enough bump absorption for grumpy commuters and, on some roads, quite a lot of tyre noise.

Otherwise, the interior is fairly refined and comfortable. Roominess and cargo space are unlikely to rule it out, and there's an equipment level befitting this type of car with some technology -- such as a pre-collision safety system - new to the segment.

However, Lexus hasn't been completely successful in writing the driveline out of the equation. Out of sport mode, it lacks responsiveness and no one would accuse this car (or its diesel rivals) of being quick.

It's too much to expect an appealing engine sound at this level, but there is something especially unpleasant about the noise of four-cylinders under load driving through a continuously variable transmission.

Of course, CVTs are not unique to Lexus and its diesel rivals are hardly music to the ear.

So in one crucial respect this car is exactly like the Audis and BMWs about this price: in each case the driveline, frugality apart, is the weakest link.


Price: Below $50,000
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol and electric motor
Power: 100kW at 5200revs
Torque: 142Nm at 4000revs
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic, front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 3.8L/100km
Emissions: 87g/km

Pricing Guides

Based on 18 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

CT200h F Sport 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $16,888 – 19,880 2011 Lexus CT 2011 CT200h F Sport Pricing and Specs
CT200h Luxury 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $15,900 – 22,900 2011 Lexus CT 2011 CT200h Luxury Pricing and Specs
CT200h Prestige 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $13,995 – 17,900 2011 Lexus CT 2011 CT200h Prestige Pricing and Specs
CT200h Sports Luxury 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $14,080 – 18,590 2011 Lexus CT 2011 CT200h Sports Luxury Pricing and Specs