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New Lexus CT Review

Hybrid hatchback has cheap running costs

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Good fuel economy
  • Clever technology
  • Low emissions
  • Unadventurous styling
  • No fun to drive
  • Poor ride quality

£25,150 - £32,000 Price range

5 Seats

64 - 67 MPG


Lexus’s very first compact-premium car, the CT, also happens to be the first full-hybrid entrant into that particular market.

Offering a luxurious interior and very cheap running costs, at first glance it would appear to be a tempting option for those looking for an alternative to a BMW 1-Series or VW Golf.

A makeover in early 2014 gave the Lexus a slightly more defined look, and the ride quality and engine noise saw some improvement.

Ultimately, however, the CT remains let down by a few flaws that have left the critics feeling distinctly underwhelmed with the whole package.

The air of quality and refinement inside the CT’s cabin belies its comparatively low price tag. Indeed, it is the one place where the CT does truly excel.

The leather is beautifully soft, and the well appointed dashboard feels solidly made from good-quality plastics. The driving position is low, and comfortable, helped in no small way by an excellent range of adjustment.

Room in the back is far from generous however, and headroom for rear passengers isn’t great thanks to the battery pack underneath the rear seats and boot floor.

The boot space is also affected but not to the extent that the car becomes uncompetitive; it’s larger than the boot in a 1 Series or an Audi A3 Sportback, and isn’t far away from 1,000 litres with the seats folded.

On the flip-side to the praise received by the quality of the interior, reviewers found little good to say about the drive.

Any passable handling characteristics are muted by vague, woolly steering and a ride harsh enough to rattle your fillings loose.

Noise suppression is excellent however, although it doesn’t quite do enough to stop the CVT (scooter-like automatic gearbox) transmission whine being intrusive and irritating when the engine is activated, which is most of the time if you leave the town centre behind.

Around town, using only the electric motor, the CT makes next-to-no noise at all, and begins to make a lot more sense.

The CT is only available with one engine, badged “CT200h”, a 1.8-litre petrol coupled to an electric motor, taken from the Toyota Prius, hidden underneath the boot floor for near silent city running.

It can go for short distances on electricity alone, though when running, the engine can power both the wheels, and be used to charge the batteries at the same time.

It’s not fast, far from it in fact. It takes over 10 seconds to reach 62mph from stand-still, and it tops out at 113mph. Recent revisions have made the engine sound less harsh under acceleration. It should be capable of delivering nearly 70mpg though. 

The Lexus CT promises excellent savings for company car drivers and bullet-proof reliability, on top of its impressive environmental credentials. The Lexus certainly won’t break the bank to run.

The Lexus CT is a safe car, scoring the maximum five stars from Euro NCAP in crash tests. It has eight airbags, including knee airbags for front seat passengers, and traction control as standard.

On top of that, there is electronic stability control and traction control, as well as seats that minimise the possibility of whiplash injury in the event of a rear collision.

It’ll be reassuring for buyers to know that Lexus have strived to ensure the CT has a stiff and very safe structure for occupants who are involved in an accident.

Adjusted for equipment levels, the CT works out quite a bit cheaper than the BMW 1-series or Audi A3, both of which are dynamically superior to the CT.

All models have alloy wheels, climate control and bluetooth as standard, while higher spec models get leather, sat-nav and an excellent stereo.

Options are costly, however; cruise control is available as part of an option package that could add nearly £3,000 to the price-tag, which would make this Focus-sized car cost as much as a 5-series.

Testers found it difficult to achieve the quoted mpg figures (with one barely making the mid 40s), and combine this with weak residuals and stubborn Lexus dealers who aren’t known for negotiating prices, the CT doesn’t quite seem as a good value as it first appeared.


It may have a sumptuous interior and eerily quiet electric motor, but the poor handling lets the CT200h down.

The hybrid engine, admittedly very clever and rather pleasant around town, won’t fulfil the needs of many when compared to the superior light diesel engines being produced by BMW, Volkswagen and Audi.

At the moment it’s difficult to recommend the CT200h over its rivals, when there are so many similarly priced and sized cars that have the same low running costs but get far better reviews.

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