Test Drive: 2011 Lexus CT 200h videos car test drives reviews makes luxury cars lexus auto articles
2011 Lexus CT 200h. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2011 Lexus CT 200h

The Lexus CT 200h is a luxury compact sport hatchback with hybrid power that gives buyers the opportunity to get into a Lexus at a lower price point. With a starting price of $30,950 – $1,950 less than the IS 250 – Lexus hopes to attract younger, eco-conscious buyers to the brand. It is the fifth Lexus hybrid and the first luxury compact hybrid from any brand, and is an all-new model for 2011.

The CT 200h uses the same1.8-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine and electric motor combination found in the current-generation Toyota Prius. Both have two electric motors – an engine-driven electric motor-generator as well as a drive motor. The former generates electricity to charge the battery pack and to provide additional power to the drive motor as needed. The drive motor is driven by electrical power from the battery pack or the engine-driven motor, and it drives the front wheels. The battery pack is located under the rear cargo area, ahead of the rear axle. Although there are differences between the Prius and CT 200h with respect to intake and exhaust components, the power output is the same – 134 horsepower.

Test Drive: 2011 Lexus CT 200h videos car test drives reviews makes luxury cars lexus auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 Lexus CT 200h videos car test drives reviews makes luxury cars lexus auto articles
Test Drive: 2011 Lexus CT 200h videos car test drives reviews makes luxury cars lexus auto articles
2011 Lexus CT 200h. Click image to enlarge

The CT 200h is also built on the same platform as the Prius, known internally at Toyota as MC. This platform is common to a number of Toyota/Lexus/Scion vehicles, including the Toyota Corolla and Matrix, Scion xB and Lexus HS 250h. As well, the CT 200h uses many of the same hybrid components found in all other Toyota and Lexus hybrids. Using common technology and components maximizes production efficiency.

But the CT 200h is not just another body slapped on an existing platform and drivetrain. Far from it. The Prius is a mid-sized sedan; the CT 200h is a luxury compact. It has a wheelbase that is 100 mm (3.9 inches) shorter than the Prius. Although it is a bit wider than the Prius (by 20 mm or less than an inch), the CT 200h is shorter by 140 mm (4.5 in.) and lower by 40 mm (1.6 in.). The CT 200h also has less cargo space, less front and rear legroom and less shoulder room for both front and rear occupants. It is definitely a smaller car in almost every respect.

Yet despite its more diminutive measurements, the CT 200h is 40 kg heavier than the Prius (1420 kg/3,130 lbs. versus 1380 kg/3,042 lbs.).

If all decisions were based on practical considerations, one might, at this point, take a pass on the CT 200h, However, buying a car is as much an affair of the heart as it is an outcome of logical decision making. The Prius appeals to the practical minded, with its combination of maximum efficiency, maximum space and maximum utility, in a recognizable package that says, “Look at me, I’m a practical guy!” The Lexus CT 200h will appeal more to those who see themselves as drivers, people who want a vehicle that is much more than practical transportation, yet (maybe secretly) wish to retain their eco-conservatism.

In this respect, the CT 200h is a tremendous success. It is a nice-looking sport compact. I wouldn’t call it gorgeous, at least not in the Daybreak Yellow Mica paint that adorned my test vehicle, but wearing a different dress, it would definitely catch a second glance. You might want to visit a Lexus dealer and go out on a date. Who knows, if you like what you see and you like how it drives, a lasting relationship could develop.

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