Lexus Tweaks CT Styling, Lower Prices, Lower CO2

What am I looking at?

This is the new Lexus CT 200h, available to order now with deliveries starting in March.

Anything new?

Tweaks here and there - it's not an all-new car, rather a facelift of the CT 200h that's been on sale since 2010. The biggest difference externally is the new Lexus corporate 'spindle' grille, which extends through the bumper and looks a little less dramatic here than it does on some of the more recent Lexus models.

There's another F Sport version too which replaces the slats with a mesh grille and there's a host of minor detail changes, new alloy wheel designs and subtle interior tweaks. Of these, it's the new steering wheel, seven-inch display in the centre console and new hybrid shift lever that'll draw the most attention.

2014 Lexus CT 200h rear

What powers it?

There's only one engine option in the CT 200h, and as the lower-case 'h' suggests it's a hybrid. It's broadly similar to the power unit you'll find in Toyota's Prius, using a 134-horse 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and electric motor setup. A continuously-variable planetary gearset juggles power between the two and sends it to the wheels - smooth, and among the simplest of transmissions from a mechanical standpoint, despite the perceived complexity.

For the facelift, all models are Euro 6 emissions compliant and all now drop below that all-important 100 g/km CO2 barrier - meaning free car tax and a lowly 10 percent BIK rating for business users. Lowest is the 'S' version at just 82 g/km, which is also most economical at 78.5 mpg. Other CTs manage 68.9 mpg.

2014 Lexus CT 200h dashboard

How much does it cost?

Plump for the basic model and it's actually a grand cheaper than before - 20,995 is your new point of entry.

Other CTs have dropped by 1,500 - Lexus hasn't revealed detailed pricing, but you can expect to pay between 24k-25k for a CT in 'Luxury' trim 26k-27k for an F-Sport and if top-end Premier models get the biggest drops, under thirty grand for that trim level. S, SE, Advance, Luxury, F Sport and Premier grades all carry over from the existing car.

Anything else I should know?

Lexus promises under-the-skin changes have improved the handling and ride quality of the CT - an area where existing models are often marked down next to rivals. You shouldn't expect BMW 1-Series levels of fun, even so...

2014 Lexus CT 200h cabin

Any alternatives?

Aside from the 1-Series mentioned above, common alternatives for the CT also include the Audi A3 Sportback and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

If you're shooting from left-field and appreciate the Lexus's low-emissions ethos, then you might also cross-shop with Nissan's Leaf. It's not quite as versatile as the petrol-powered Lexus, but as a tool for city driving it's even more refined and comfortable, and pricing starts at the same level - before you subtract the 5,000 government grant.

In a line:

Quirky luxury hybrid hatchback becomes a little more compelling.

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