The Lexus CT hatchback was first unveiled back in 2011, when it shook the automotive world simply because it was the first fully-hybrid luxury hatch. It was relatively inexpensive, and appealed to a new demographic of buyers.
BMW and Mercedes quickly pricked up their ears and set about developing (pricier) contenders. Which then meant Lexus had to come up with something even smarter, more refined and more efficient. Have they succeeded? Let’s find out with our review.
Lexus CT Test Drive
One thing that BMW and Mercedes have so far failed to nail in this class of hybrid luxury hatchback’s is refinement. Lexus, though, haven’t. Indeed, as soon as you press the “Start” button in the cabin, the silence is deafening – and it’s vastly different from the turgid thrum emitted by its rivals. From start-up to 28mph, the Lexus CT operates in EV mode only, which guarantees that sweet musical silence.
The engine itself is a 1.8-litre VVTi petrol power plant that is also used in the Toyota Prius. It adds an extra 99bhp to the 82 of the EV motor – but never at the same time.
Once you’re on the road with petrol and battery power running in tandem, you can use a centre drive controller to customise your ride experience. You have three options:
If you opt for Sport, you get a further 150V of electric motor power which allows you to get from res to 62mph in 10.3 seconds. This drive mode also sharpens your steering an throttle response, and holds your engine revs for longer. Moreover, stability control becomes less intrusive.
The suspension settings have been improved for the CT hatchback, which ensures better body control when you’re out and about. The ride is also less firm than last time around, thanks to modified suspension. Overall, ride enjoyment is not that dissimilar from a traditional automatic.
The Interior, Design And Build Of The Lexus CT
Lexus have implemented their signature spindle grille here which ensures the CT hatch benefits from some sassy styling. The two bottom corners of the grille are stretched further apart, which helps the car achieve a wider track and an impressive low-front profile. It looks good.
The interior again shames its more expensive German rivals. The driving position is set low, which gives the cabin a real cockpit feel. The controls are all tidily arranged and are easy to operate. The smart steering wheel is borrowed from the Lexus IS, while the Optitron instrument binnacle comes complete with a neat 4.2” TFT screen that hooks up to your multimedia system. The multimedia screen, meanwhile, is slimmer than last time around, while the Remote Touch Interface controller benefits from some modifications that make it more user friendly.
Everyone always expects hybrid cars to come up short when it comes to practically. After all, designers have somehow gotta figure out a way of dumping a huge battery pack in there somewhere. Things can easily get messy, but thankfully Lexus have done a pretty grand job with the CT. The rear wheels don’t eat into the boot space too much, which means that a 375-litre capacity is actually pretty swell and is much than what you’ll find in the latest BMW 1 Series. If you fold the rear seats, you can increase this space to 985-litres. Moreover, head and legroom is good both up front and in the back, and is much better than what this car’s rivals are offering.
Lexus CT Price And Running Costs
Prices for the new CT start out from around £21,000 and rise to about £30,000. Equipment levels have been improved throughout the range, with even the baseline model offering 17” alloys, USB compatibility, rain sensing wipers and Bluetooth compatibility. It also offers buyers rear privacy glass and a leather-coated steering wheel. It’s lovely suff. There are also eight airbags in this car, which helped bagged it a 5* Euro NCAP rating.
In rems of running costs, this Lexus hatchback really does a job on its rivals. The parallel hybrid technology is pretty traditional here, but that’s no bad thing at all, and you get a five year warranty. If you opt for the S-grade model with the 15” alloys, you’ll be emitting just 82g/km of CO2 – which is around 30g/km better than the BMW 1 Series or the Audi A3 at their best.
Our Favourite: Lexus CT200h
The CT hatch really broke the mould when it was first unveiled, because it was the first hybrid that wasn’t a compact car. It was actually quid large. Combining eco sensibility with a terrific, childlike nose for fun, it offers more efficiency, better looks, and a much quieter drive – up to 28mph, it’s even silent.
Sure, the ultimate driving machine will always offer better drivability, as will the Audi A3. But if you want something cheaper, quieter and more spacious, the Lexus CT hatchback wins hands down.
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