The CT Lexus has a lot on it shoulders.
In fact, nothing less than recruiting the next generation of Lexus buyers that'll sustain the company for like the next 20 years and this particular model is their longest ball toward that goal.
Let's drive the 2012 CT 200h Premium with the F-Sport package and check the tech.
Now as I told you before we'll review the previous Lexus CT we had.
I love the ergonomics in this guy.
This lay down console is kinda mid 60's Thunderbird and it's exactly where your hands wants to go for climate, your media controllers but here's where your ergonomics start to fall apart.
This hole right here is for this thing.
The Lexus electronics holder.
Pretty clever huh?
You stick it in there and it kinda sits in the hole, you turn that around, you can stick your phone in there in a little universal kind of a clamp holds it but its got issues.
First of all when you're driving it rattles and creaks.
That is not in the Lexus playbook of quality.
Then there's this deal.
It's always crooked, that makes me crazy.
It gets in the way of reaching other knobs.
How do I get to the drive knob?
How do I get to the tuning knob without kinda contorting myself and worst of all if the seat heater buttons are up, and your passenger turns this thing, they sheer that button off right there.
Okay enough of that.
The ergonomic nightmares continues.
Small as they may be, here's your USB Aux port.
Right here where a door wants to close on it but can't because anything you plug in there is gonna keep the door from closing and even if they didn't, where's the little port for the cables to trail out so I can leave that closed.
The little Lexus details are missing right here.
It make me nuts.
Now more substantial stuff.
We've got the head unit here with a generally excellent Lexus interface that's a little popped up kind of a deal.
You can set different angles of tilt and we've shown you this many times on Lexus cars.
I like everything on it, I like the way they lay things out.
It's clear, it's easy to use and I have actually fallen in love with this, the remote touch controller which has this little upside down little (jug pack?) right here.
You move around things by moving a cursor.
It has haptic feedback which locks you or makes those things sticky, really great for using this minimal distraction and in these days when the federal government is talking about killing all distraction, this is a leader.
Once you get to where you're going you use enter, menu, map or the scroll rocker here to make things happen.
This big knob here does not control the interface.
It just controls he drive mode.
Counter clockwise for Eco, push to be normal, all the way over for sport.
Sport puts this guy in a mode where it's gonna have a revised throttle curve, more aggressive acceleration.
It ups the voltage from the battery to electric motor to get more umf out of it and it tightens up the electric power steering.
Over here is EV mode.
If you press that, the car will do whatever it can to run up to 1 mile at up to 25 miles an hour on battery only directly to the electric motor and things on the dash change as you change the drive controller.
When you're in normal mode, you get a charge or discharge gauge turn to sport and that dynamically turns into tech very trick and notice it all turns red too.
The media options are pretty excellent.
You got AM, FM, satellite, radio, a single slot CD and you've got AUX and USB as I showed you, Bluetooth hands free and Bluetooth streaming.
A genuine note about all these options, I'm only gonna ballpark roll this tech cost, somewhere between 5,100 and $6,500 to get this car CNET style.
I'm ball parking it because this car has the most complicated configuration I've ever seen in any car in all the years we've been reviewing tech in cars.
It's bewildering on their website.
You're gonna need the dealer to help you through it or just buy what's on the lot.
Under the hood the CT 200 is basically Prius stuff.
1.8 liter in-line 4 Atkinson cycle which is a lean burn motor and then coupled to that is an electric motor.
The numbers are kinda funky.
98 horsepower on the engine, 80 horsepower on electric motor but it sums to 134 horse.
It's totally additive.
105 foot pounds of torque but that doesn't include the electric motor's various contributions depending on drive mode and throttle profile.
Gets this 3,155 pound car to 60 in a mid to high 9 second range and delivers 43/40 MPG.
One choice only on the drive train.
It's an electronic CVT gear box with that little funky upside down putter shifter, front wheel drive only and of course the drive mode selector is the key tech feature...
And the thing I wanna find out mostly on this little quick drive is how does the sport mode compare to the standard mode or the eco mode.
So when I go to sport here, I get my tech, I get my red gauges now, and we'll try a little acceleration.
So I've been driving the car around mostly in normal mode.
I think all the tech if it's significantly different in a 1, 2, 3 sort of a launch here.
Yeah, there's definitely a little more spine in it when you get to the sport mode...
The steering does tighten up a little.
The ratio seems to change or the weighting changes at least as electric power steering in this car and no point does it make a very interesting sound.
It's a hybrid.
It's meant to be more refined than it is growling and that ECVT keeps the RPMs largely in one range all the time, but I think what Lexus has done here is they put together a car that has that Lexus quality with the exception of that damn phone holder and a lighter footprint.
It doesn't have some of the bombast that you associate with a Lexus being a sort of Mercedes Fighter but I could definitely learn to like this car an awful lot.
Again the ergonomics in the cabin are one of my favorite things.
Second favorite thing is the integration of the power train.
It's very elegant and the third thing is the practicality of the body style.
It's a small car but you can get enough in here to make it an everyday sort of a hauler for small runs for things.
Okay a CT done CNET style is gonna run you a 37-38 grand given one of those complicated optional (raise?) you're gonna pick.
That's not bad for a Lexus but a lot of folks look at this and say that is not what I have in mind as a Lexus.
It's a compact car.
That's one challenge they've gotta figure out.
The bigger issue though is Americans have yet to find a place in their head for the concept of a premium compact.
It's gonna have to be a matter of time before this car and others like it make a slot for itself.