Lexus CT hatchback
Price £21,245 - £29,745
- Good quality interior
- Low CO2 emissions
- Impressive reliability
- Poor ride quality
- CVT gearbox makes car noisy and slow
- Batteries cut into rear-seat and boot space
At a glance
“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 200h is designed to compete with the Audi A3 and BMW 2 Series, while offering Toyota customers a car to trade up to if they get bored of their Toyota Prius. The CT is only available with a hybrid powertrain, which marries a 1.8-litre petrol engine to an electric motor for low running costs.
The problem is it that when you compare the CT to efficient diesel versions of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, it becomes apparent that it doesn’t actually deliver good enough fuel economy to really make it stand out in what is now a very competitive class. The weight of the hybrid technology affects its performance, handling and practicality, too.
Part of Lexus’ appeal has always been how comfortable its cars are, but when the CT was first launched, it seemed as though the engineers had sacrificed that in pursuit of more agile, sporty handling. Lexus attempted to rectify this as part of a facelift in 2014, which stiffened the CT's body and softened its ride, but the car still seems very firm on rough roads and doesn’t really feel sporty, either.
Limited steering feel and the car's poor CVT gearbox mean it’ll disappoint driving enthusiasts, while the firm ride will irritate those buyers who want the ultimate in refinement.
The Lexus CT 200h is a bit of a mixed bag, then. There are positives in its favour, including low running costs, a luxurious interior and an excellent reliability record, but it also underperforms in a few key areas, especially given how Lexus has positioned it in the marketplace.
With the CT's ultra-low CO2 emissions, Lexus has company-car buyers firmly in its sights, but the car doesn’t deliver the combination of a sporty driving experience and upmarket style we were hoping for. It's not a terrible car – it just promises more than it can deliver.
The Lexus CT 200h comes in six main trim levels: entry-level S, SE, Advance, Luxury, 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.
The Lexus CT is free from road tax and running costs are reasonable
The Lexus CT isn't especially quick and steering could be better
Ride is harsh, but luxury and a quiet drive are assured in the Lexus CT
Batteries cut into the Lexus CT's boot and passenger space
Lexus CT's hybrid system has proved reliable in other models