March 2014 will see the launch of the new Lexus CT 200h in UK and across Europe. The CT200h is the world’s first full hybrid entering the “premium compact” sector and is their first vehicle entering this model sector too.
A whole lot of changes have been made to improve not only the styling but also comfort and quality with a new grill and multimedia interface.
Power comes from the petrol-electric parallel hybrid powertrain that has seen use in Toyota’s 3rd generation Prius, a system that has been worked on since its initial launch in the 1997 Prius.
The engine/electric set-up produces a total output of 134bhp which isn’t too impressive but it they do claim it can achieve an impressive mpg of 68.9 on the combined cycle.
Design wise the car has a new Lexus spindle deign front grille with the F-Sport models having a sportier mesh effect. There is also a new front fog lamp design with full LED running lights available on some models and a new design of 10 spoke alloy wheel.
Previous owners who put their Lexus through an automatic car wash will be pleased to know that the removal ariel has now been replaced with a shark-fin design which doesn’t need removing.
Inside the interior has been given a makeover with a new steering wheel similar to the IS and a leather gear gaiter.
As mentioned the multimedia interface has been updated too. It is now the same system available on the IS range with a new fixed display 4.2inch TFT screen which can be controlled using buttons on the steering wheel for the European market with the old popup system remaining for Japanese models.
Lower end models without Sat-Nav have their menus controlled by a dial similar to BMW’s i-Drive system.
Body rigidity has been improved by 5 per cent by the use of laser screw welding which is also used on the IS range. This has allowed the CT200h to make use of a softer suspension setup and address owners of the previous model’s complaints about the vehicle ride being too harsh.
The CVT automatic gearbox has also had software changes along with the whole car being better sound insulated to make the ride quieter when traveling at motorway speed, another complaint from owners of the previous model.
The new CT200h goes on sale March 2014 in the UK with prices yet to be confirmed.
However prices for the current CT200h start at £21,995 moving up to £30,995 and it is rumoured that the new model should be cheaper.
· Performance – 2 out of 5
The car makes use of both a 1.8 litre petrol engine and an electric motor to produce 134bhp which for this size of car is a little under powered. Mid range power is the main bugbear with the electric motor struggling to compensate for the engines lack of power, even with the “sport mode” engaged.
· Ride & Handling – 1 out of 5
Despite their attempt to improve the ride quality of the new CT200h, it is still harsh with steering offering very little in the way of feedback. Handling isn’t too bad with good grip and little body roll. Even with the F-Sport models suspension changes things improve very little.
· Refinement -1 out of 5
With the CT200h running totally on battery power alone the car is obviously extremely quiet, but this is only possible at low speed. Because of the small 1.8 petrol unit struggling, the engine noise is high when you attempt any type of acceleration.
· Space & Practicality – 2 out of 5
With this sector of car you cant really expect huge amounts of space and if you do you are going to be disappointed here. The boot is small, not helped by the fact that the battery is stored benefit the boot floor and cabin space isn’t going to be great for more than 4 average sized adults.
· Equipment – 4 out of 5
As usual with Lexus, trim levels are high. Even the entry model “S” comes with Alloy wheels, climate controlled air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity. SE spec benefits from additional fog lights and privacy glass whilst the Luxury model adding Leather, parking sensors and cruise control. There is also an F-Sport which comes complete with a body styling kit, sports suspension and a Premier boasting premium SatNav and Mark Levinson Hi-Fi.
· Quality & Reliability -5 out of 5
As you would expect from Lexus the build quality both inside and out is superb and with the companies previous track record I would be very surprised if you have too many problems with things going wrong.
· Safety & Security – 4 out of 5
The CT200h has achieved a five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP. Safety comes from eight airbags, an electronic stability control system and traction control. Things like immobilisers, shielded locks etc. all make the car no interest to wood be car thieves.
Information about selling your Lexus can be found here : Selling your Lexus