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 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.
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