Review

Lexus CT hatchback

Price  £21,245 - £29,745

Lexus CT hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Good quality interior
  • Low CO2 emissions
  • Impressive reliability
Cons
  • Poor ride quality
  • CVT gearbox makes car noisy and slow
  • Batteries cut into rear-seat and boot space

At a glance

The greenest
CT200h S 5dr £21,245
The cheapest
CT200h S 5dr £21,245
The fastest
CT200h Executive Edition 5dr £22,995
Top of the range
CT200h Premier 5dr £29,745

“The Lexus CT 200h is cheap to run, but delivers neither the sporty performance nor the comfort we expect from this brand.”

The Lexus CT hatchback is intended as a rival to the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 but also as an upgrade for Toyota Prius owners who want a hybrid with a little more luxury. There are no pure petrol or diesel CT models; it’s only available with a 1.8-litre petrol engine that’s married to an electric motor to help make the car greener and cheaper to run.

Unfortunately for Lexus, comparisons between the CT and the most economical diesel A3 and 1 Series models are not favourable. In reality, the CT isn’t economical enough to justify the compromises involved with buying a hybrid. The hybrid drive system itself does not deliver particularly sparkling performance and when you add in its extra weight, the car feels sluggish and hefty in corners too. The bulk of the hybrid system also impinges on the car’s practicality.

The enduring appeal of cars wearing the Lexus badge has been their comfortable, refined nature but when the CT first hit the road it felt like that trait had been sacrificed in an effort to make the car feel sporty. In 2014, Lexus tried to remedy the problem by softening the car’s ride and stiffening its body, but in truth the car still retains its very firm feel on rough roads and the adjustments haven’t helped its driving dynamics.

To add to the problem, driving enthusiasts are unlikely to fall in love with the rather inert steering and noisy, slow CVT gearbox, while owners after a really comfortable car will be disappointed by the firm ride.

The Lexus CT isn’t an awful car – running costs are low, the interior is luxurious and it’s proved extremely reliable - but it falls short of the best in class in key areas, especially when you consider the characteristics buyers traditionally look for in a Lexus.

Low CO2 emissions means the CT makes an attractive company car but for private buyers it’s neither sporty enough nor comfortable enough to make it a hatchback we can heartily recommend over the alternatives on the market.

The Lexus CT 200h comes in a bewildering amount of main trim levels: entry-level S, SE, Advance, Luxury, Advance Plus, Sport, F-Sport and top-of-the-range Premier. The higher specification cars are seriously expensive, so we’d suggest the SE trim or Advance if you can afford it, which features kit like sat-nav and heated seats that will add to the car’s appeal when you come to sell it.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.7 / 5

The Lexus CT is free from road tax and running costs are reasonable

Engines, drive & performance

2.1 / 5

The Lexus CT isn't especially quick and steering could be better

Interior & comfort

3.3 / 5

Ride is harsh, but luxury and a quiet drive are assured in the Lexus CT

Practicality & boot space

2.9 / 5

Batteries cut into the Lexus CT's boot and passenger space

Reliability & safety

4.6 / 5

Lexus CT's hybrid system has proved reliable in other models

What the others say

3 / 5
based on 3 reviews
3 / 5
Under the skin is the familiar Prius driveline, comprising a four-cylinder petrol engine, an 81bhp electric motor and a nickel metal hydride battery. The brilliance of this is that the engine can drive the front wheels and/or charge the battery at the same time.
3 / 5
Posh small hatch with hybrid tech, which means low emissions, high mpg and small tax bills. It’s nicely appointed inside, with plenty of kit for the money.
3 / 5
Prius engined compact hatchback hybrid with low 96g/km CO2 that makes it London Congestion Tax exempt from 2011. Can go 2km at up to 45kmh on battery power alone.
What owners say 
4.0423076923077
4 /5 based on 26 reviews
69%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
1 Jun 2016
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