The Lexus CT 200h is a full hybrid compact 5-door replete with Lexus fit and finish and priced around $32,000. The CT 200h was created and developed originally for the European market, but is available in the U.S. and aimed directly at America's young, highly discerning and environmentally conscientious customers.
The driver-centered cabin is designed with clearly defined display and operational zones. Audio and telephone controls share the steering wheel, while three multi-function stalks are just behind, only an inch away. The shift lever is mounted high on the console, inches from the wheel. A console-mounted "mouse" operates the display on a large, central, pop-up eye-level screen for multiple control functions at a glance.
Seating surfaces are trimmed in a soft synthetic, but leather is available. Front seats are designed in the deeply bolstered sports style. The rear bench is also bolstered as two separate sports seats and folds flat in a 30/70 split to add carrying capacity. Lexus-level safety is standard, as is dust and pollen filtration in the dual-zone climate control system.
Available options include navigation system that includes a backup camera, Bluetooth, Lexus Enform smartphone integration and a 10-speaker premium audio system.
A Premium package adds variable rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror and HomeLink.
An F SPORT package adds exterior trim upgrades as well as aluminum pedals, sportier suspension tuning, and unique 17-inch wheels as well as other tech upgrades inside.
The powertrain for the CT 200h comprises an Atkinson-cycle 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission and a pair of 650-volt motor/generators. The system's total combined output is 134 horsepower, which is capable of delivering 0?60 mph times of 9.8 seconds and EPA fuel economy of 43 mpg city, 40 highway. The electric-assisted rack and pinion power steering includes power-splitting traction control.
Despite many advances in engine efficiency, the tussle between power versus fuel economy remains alive and well. For today's example, the 2014 Lexus CT 200h, fitted with F Sport performance improvements, achieves extraordinary fuel economy but drives like a slug.
The CT 200h is an odd duck, not only as the entry-level Lexus model, but also as a dedicated hatchback and hybrid. It joins the, , and all-new NX as front-wheel-drive architecture cars in the Lexus line-up. In the US, the base price comes in at only $32,050, rock-bottom for a premium segment car, but adding navigation, the F Sport Luxury package, and F Sport LED headlights took my example up to $41,815 with destination. The CT 200h's driveline remains the same for UK and Australian buyers, although option packs will vary. The UK base price comes in at £20,995 while Australians will pay AU$45,751. Unfortunately, CO2 emissions of 82 g/km won't exempt the CT 200h from London congestion charges.
I have always liked the hatchback styling of the CT 200h, and the 2014 model, which received a design update, looked excellent in its Redline exterior color. Really setting off this example was the F Sport package, which added a slick spoiler above the hatch and a black roof, nicely offsetting the red body. 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels completed the look.
The Good In F Sport trim, the 2014 Lexus CT 200h handles well and looks sharp, while average fuel economy tops 40 mpg. The Enform app suite adds excellent functionality for online destination searches, music, and other app services.
The Bad With 134 horsepower from the hybrid drive system, the CT 200h doesn't have the power to back up its looks. The Remote Touch cabin tech interface controller can be difficult to use accurately.
The Bottom Line Excellent app integration with the cabin tech suite and excellent fuel economy are high points for the 2014 Lexus CT 200h, but it needs more power to justify its F Sport tuning and looks.
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