2011 Lexus CT 200h
2011 Lexus CT 200h. Click image to enlarge

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Lexus CT 200h on Autos.ca

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Lexus Canada

By Paul Williams; photos courtesy Lexus Canada

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2011 Lexus CT 200h

Calgary, Alberta – There aren’t many Sportwagons introduced to the market these days, let alone luxury Sportwagons with a performance-tuned suspension. Lexus has got one: the all-new 2011 CT200h.

In case you’re wondering, “CT” stands for Creative Touring; the “200” refers to the power equivalent of a conventional 2.0-litre engine, and “h” stands for “Hold on a second; is that thing a hybrid!?”

Okay, it doesn’t quite stand for that, but yes, with its starting price of $30,900, the front-wheel drive CT200h is indeed a hybrid. Under the hood you’ll find the Toyota Prius drive-train modified for a bit more snap and badged as Lexus Synergy Drive, but still making a combined 134-horsepower from its combination of 1.8-litre gasoline engine and electric motor; same as the Prius.

2011 Lexus CT 200h
2011 Lexus CT 200h
2011 Lexus CT 200h. Click image to enlarge

What the CT (let’s just call it that…) lacks in neck-snapping acceleration, it makes up for in what car dealers call “eyeball.” That is, it’s a great-looking car — sporty and sleek, the extended roof tapering back to an aggressive rear that would look just fine with a dual-exhaust as a finishing touch.

The Lexus CT is a four-door hatchback with a rear seat that folds flat, producing over 700 litres of cargo room behind the front seats. The hood and rear liftgate are made of aluminum to help save weight (the CT’s curb weight is 1,420 kilograms) and the coefficient of drag is a very low 0.29.

On the road the CT acquits itself well, with a drive mode system that toggles between Eco, Normal and Sport (it defaults to Normal), and a drive-train that can run in full Electric Vehicle (EV) mode when conditions allow. Like all hybrid vehicles, the gasoline engine shuts down at intersections to save fuel, instantly starting as required.

The Sport mode sharpens the steering and throttle response, and turns the instrument panel lighting from blue to red to indicate that you’re in more exciting territory. But there’s also a “B” transmission setting (stands for “Braking,” as in ‘engine braking’) that should be designated as “Sport Plus” or something similar. It keeps the engine speed on the boil, holding the rpms when cornering and descending hills, imparting much more throttle response than Normal or even Sport. It does that without consuming more fuel, too.

The suspension (front Macpherson strut; rear double wishbone) is tuned for handling and ride, which translates to satisfyingly sharp and direct steering and minimal body lean in corners, while maintaining a ride is that is comfortable and quiet.

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