Lexus has been at the forefront of hybrid technology and has transformed our view of hybrids by combining relative efficiency with genuine pace. The Lexus CT 200h takes a different tack by taking the hybrid bits straight out of the Toyota Prius without any Lexus fettling. So is it a welcome new approach or has Lexus sold out?
Initial impressions are mixed. We haven’t been the biggest fans of Lexus styling over the years but recent offerings have struck a much brighter note. However the CT 200h to our eye misses the mark with a strangely awkward and dated look. In this trim the small wheels and lack of fog lights don’t help either. Step inside and things do improve with a reassuringly mature and high quality interior.
SUV models aside, this is the first Lexus not to be rear-wheel drive. The decision is at odds with the brand’s sporty aspirations and is the first sign of Lexus making compromises. The second sign becomes apparent when you press the start button; the 1.8-litre four cylinder petrol engine lacks character and isn’t the quietest when pressed.
Talking of being pressed, with a modest 134 bhp available you have to work the engine hard to make quick progress. With a 0-62 mph time the wrong side of 10 seconds it’s slower than rivals and the chassis isn’t sharp enough to inject sufficient fun into the equation. The CVT gearbox doesn’t help here either.
A 100 g/km Lexus is a tempting proposition but we think that the Lexus philosophy has been watered down too much in the process. However it’s competitively priced compared to its closest direct rivals, the Toyota Corolla and Prius, and with a premium badge many buyers may choose an entry-level Lexus over an expensive Toyota.