It’s been three years since I last drove the Lexus CT 200h. At the time, I found it to be a great looking car that failed dynamically to live up to the promises of its sporty appearance.
As time goes on, we all become older and hopefully wiser, and maybe a little mellower. During the last three years, Lexus has made a few evolutionary changes to their entry level offering, but nothing to reinvent what has proved to be a reasonably successful model for Toyota’s upscale division. Sales continue to be steady, if moderate, though Lexus still moves roughly 1/3 as many CTs as either of their larger IS and ES models.
When considered for its merits, and its primary raison d’être as a luxurious compact hybrid, it’s a rather glowing result. The fluid and flawlessly finished “Nebula Grey Pearl” paint of our test car is a contemporary and classy choice for the CT 200h and, like the design overall, is likely to appeal to the young, upscale urban dwellers searching for something a little flashier than the Prius on which this model is mechanically based. I’ll circle back to some of the styling details after we address the CT’s core mission.
With the CT 200h, Lexus has delivered one of the most fuel-efficient luxury cars on the market today and they (along with parent Toyota) have more experience with hybrids than anyone. This lineage shows in the CT 200h where the driver often only notices the transition from EV to gas mode by sound rather than feel, and even then you’ve got to pay attention given how impressively smooth it is.
During a week with the CT 200h, we saw a combined (city/highway) driving consumption rate of 5.5 L/100 km, which is right where it should be based on the published estimates of 5.5 L/100 km city and 5.8 highway. Admittedly, this figure was only achieved once I resolved myself to focusing on hypermiling and not trying to get any sort of motoring pleasure out of the CT 200h (more on that later). Aside from trying out the Sport and Normal modes initially, the Eco mode was selected early on and that’s how it stayed the rest of the week.
Aside from the comfortable seats, the rest of the interior is pleasant enough, too, feeling sufficiently luxurious for the Lexus brand. What’s more, the Lexus “mouse-controlled” infotainment system may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have no issues working with it. Plus the screen is perched high on the dash, in clear line of sight and features bright, crisp graphics.
2015 Lexus CT 200h, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Rear passenger space is on par with other compact cars, which is to say that fitting three adults abreast will result in some grumbling. Two should be fine. The cache of batteries beneath the luggage space floor compromises cargo capacity, but being a hatchback, it still provides reasonable functionality for most daily applications.