I can’t believe I’m saying this: but through my week with the Lexus CT 200h, the little Lexus hybrid really started to impress me.
I’ll admit that I had a bias going in: “It’s a Prius with Lexus badging,” I thought. “And once I get past the fancy leather and infotainment, that’s all it’s going to be.” That’s not quite it, though.
First of all, the arrival of a new product from a (now former) Toyota brand is actually having a positive effect on the CT. When the world finally saw the production-ready Scion iM hatch, the internets were almost immediately abuzz/ablaze with what the brand got wrong. The production iM was so much more conservative than the slammed, wide-bodied iM concept. It looked tamer. It looked flatter. It looked… like something Lexus might do.
Then, as I began to further consider the iM, I realized that it looked like something Lexus had already done, and that’s the car you see here. Which, in one of those great automotive ironies, began to change my perspective on the CT for the better. Where the iM may not have been aggressive enough to fit the wacky Scion brand, that the CT sits so close to it stylistically is a boon for the lil’ Lexus hatch.
Especially in F Sport Special Edition guise – this is not a bad-looking car.
F Sport alone adds a special front grille (which got the trademark Lexus “spindle” treatment for 2014), rear spoiler and some interior bits, but my car’s F Sport Special Edition package kicks things up yet another notch, adding blacked-out wheels, taillight surrounds, wing mirrors and door handles, as well as two-tone NuLuxe (read: faux; it gets upgraded to real leather if you add the F Sport 3 Package) leather seating inside. The black and red seats may not be to everyone’s taste (especially when paired with our car’s fairly tame Atomic Silver exterior paint), but I would be surprised if anyone argues with how purposeful, even racy, the exterior looks with all those black accessories.
It’s got a nice stance, it has presence and if I’m honest, it drew more looks during my time with it than I thought it would. That bloody great big grille and those LED DRLs probably help, but either way, this is a good-looking car.
Obligatory Crossover Reference: 2015 Lexus NX 300h
Apart from the red seating trim, the rest of the interior is pretty standard Lexus fare. You’ve got your upsweeping centre console and weird dash overhangs, with a centralized control knob for your drive modes (ECO, Normal, Sport), a smattering of other buttons and a scroll wheel for your infotainment system.
You can upgrade to a cursor-style Lexus Display Audio interface (controlled via joystick), but I think I prefer my car’s “all scrolling, all the time” interface. I found it to be easier to work with than the other system, which I found either too sensitive, or too imprecise when I sampled it in other Lexus products. My one complaint about my car’s system is that scrolling through the menus didn’t happen as smoothly on-screen as I’d like.