If it’s good enough for Kylie, then it’s good enough for me! Lexus’ new CT200h is the first in its class to feature Hybrid technology as a premium compact, and has nestled itself snugly amongst the competition. Boasting class, performance and a derriere even Miss Minogue herself would be proud of.
Our destination was Eaton Rowing Club, greeted by a cuppa and a bacon sandwich, we sat and admired as Eaton’s fine rowers passed by, glistening in the sun (all slow motion like in the movies). After, we headed down to see what the CT had to offer…the perfect start, some would argue, to the day ahead.
The CT200h has been designed with a new focus for the Lexus brand, however keeping that same elegance and comfort we have come to expect from the premium marque. A chunky exterior with sharp lines and a kinetic design makes the CT stand out from its competition, namely the 1 series and A3. Face on, the car sits very wide and sweeps neatly into the body’s grooves, all encompassing an expression of precision and power, enticing the new, younger demographic that Lexus are so keen to impress. A strip of 8 LED running lights underline the headlights and from the rear you’re left with a view of tiny red dots, completing the exterior light show, backing up the ‘small but powerful’ impression.
The model I tested was the entry level SE-I with the standard 1.8L petrol engine, starting from £23,485 – which in my opinion is worth every last penny. That is to say if you’re the lucky ones sat in the front! (More on that later…).
Offering a top speed of 112mph and reaching 62mph in a respectable 10.3 seconds, the CT200h is built for a balance between performance and efficiency. The hybrid technology, we are all so familiar with from the Japanese car giant, works well in this baby Lexus too. Conserving fuel by cutting the engine at stops like traffic lights and road works, its like having your mother with you on a shopping spree, designed to stop you wasting money unnecessarily.
In ‘Normal’ mode the CT switches between using the battery and petrol engine, or both, to achieve optimum performance and efficiency. ‘Eco’ mode sees an efficiency-biased driving style and ‘Sport’ persuades a more power orientated ride. If you’re looking for optimum ride comfort and smooth acceleration, ‘Normal’ or ‘Eco’ modes will suit you just fine, however for a more dynamic driving experience, switch to ‘Sport’ - just be sure to expect not much more than the dials changing to red. Unfortunately the CT is a little underwhelming when it comes to ‘Sport’. Yes, the steering tightens and becomes more weighted and the way it handles is very tight, but Lexus seem to have forgotten about good old-fashioned speed in the CT200h’s case, a flaw in targeting the livelier hatchback driver.
Designed with middle management in mind, the CT200h offers an airy and spacious cabin with an interior width big enough to fit Kylie and her entourage, there’s also enough luggage space for all she would need to create an unplanned stage show when she saw a need for it. But here is where I come to find issue – the backseat. Now I don’t know about you, but I like to know that when I’m on my pilgrimages to the Mecca that is London’s West-End to see a musical or engage in other duties as a true Fag Hag, that my boys are comfortable on our journey. This however can’t be the case for the CT, as there is just no room for your bottom! Leg room is important I agree, however if I can’t get comfortable on the seat itself, then legroom is the least of my worries.
Apart from this personal issue that I have, although others have assured me I’m not alone my thinking it, I really do love the new CT200h. It’s a car that gives you all the luxury of a premium brand, with the fun and engaging drive offered by a luke-warm hatch, priced reasonably and won’t cost you the earth to fuel, a total of £0 to tax and free from congestion charge, perfect for any country folk visiting the ‘big smoke’, and perfect for doing the Loco-motion - so long as I’m the one driving, that is.