Lexus CT 200h Review logo

Lexus CT 200h Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2011
      Body type
      Family hatch
      Fuel type
      Hybrid
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Near decade old Lexus curiosity ”

Best bits

  • Epic Mark Levinson audio – if you pay for it  
  • Standard safety equipment is comprehensive  
  • Quiet around town and relatively inexpensive

Not so great

  • It’s far from its first flourish of youth
  • Infotainment controller is needlessly fiddly
  • Never much fun to drive, it’s seriously out-classed on the road by its competition

Read by

Lexus CT200h frontright exterior

Overall verdict

Lexus CT200h front interior

On the inside

Lexus CT200h left exterior

Driving

Lexus CT200h left exterior

How much does it cost to run

Lexus CT200h boot open

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The time for the CT was around when it was launched, and even then it wasn’t particularly resolved against its premium hatchback rivals on anything other than tax-efficiency. The goalposts for that have moved, too, and the hybrid market has caught up and significantly surpassed the CT. We’re actually surprised Lexus still puts the CT on a boat and brings them here, outclassed when new, its age hasn’t done it any favours."

Lexus CT200h frontright exterior

A lot has happened in the world in the near ten years since the Lexus CT (then CT 200h) was launched by diminutive pop princess Kylie Minogue. Lexus’s smallest car, it brought a self-charging hybrid option to the premium hatchback marketplace, giving buyers of the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz a low-emission, tax-dodging petrol-electric alternative to Germanic thrusting turbodiesels. 


That economic and environmental pragmatism was mixed with a bit of hope from Lexus that the CT would appeal to a more youthful audience, which goes some way to explaining Miss Minogue’s part in its introduction. We’re not sure that ever really happened, or it may have, but in the ensuing years those youthful buyers have grown up.


The Lexus CT has had work done to it during those ten years to keep it up-to-date, with revisions in both 2014 and 2018, but even when fresh-faced and new in 2011 it was a choice mired in compromises. 


It borrows its tech from that most familiar of hybrids, the Toyota Prius, Toyota being the parent company of upmarket Lexus, in the CT it mating a 1.8-litre petrol engine to an electric motor. Unlike the plug-in hybrids that are increasingly the norm, the CT’s hybrid system is ‘self-charging,’ scavenging back otherwise wasted energy when coasting, braking, or diverting some from the engine, to charge its small onboard battery pack. 


The CT defaults to electric drive when possible – at speeds up to 28mph – but the limitations of its hybrid system mean you’ll flatten those batteries in around a mile, and even then you’ll need to be driving like a saint to achieve that. 


The best of its rivals offer commuting range EV potential, with cars like the plug-in Mercedes-Benz A-Class A250e able to cover as much as 42 miles on electricity alone, though we concede that the Mercedes-Benz’s starting price is where the CT’s range price tops out. That it’s bettered by Toyota’s own Corolla hybrid is perhaps more of a concern, and start putting turbodiesels into the mix and the CT’s case becomes even more difficult to justify. 


Lexus dared to be different with it though, but it’s never felt like it really knew what it wanted to be, with excellent refinement – at town speeds at least – ruined by over busy suspension that promised sharp handling but never really delivered it. Given the strength of its rivals, all of which have at least been replaced once in the CT’s lifetime, that’s meant it’s always been a relatively low-volume, obscure seller in the market it aims to compete in, despite its low emissions status, and the advantageous tax position that puts it in for company car drivers.


Even Lexus seems to have forgotten about it, it more than likely, like its bigger IS300h relative, that it’ll quietly depart the price lists and showroom floors soon, with the few potential buyers for it pushed into Lexus’s UX crossover instead.

Is the Lexus CT right for you?

If you’ve gotten this far, then you might still be considering it, so there’s a chance. If anything, the CT was too far ahead of its time, with the backlash against diesels now suiting its petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain.


 The thing is, in the years since it was introduced, its rivals have all caught up, with most able to offer some sort of mild hybrid, if not a superior plug-in hybrid, wrapped in bodies that are more contemporary than the CT. It’s decently equipped as standard, while the interior feels superbly built and Lexus dealers apparently treat customers incredibly well, so if that appeals, and you’re not too fussed about having the newest, latest car on your driveway then the CT could be just the thing, though we’d suggest if you are buying one new that you haggle a massive discount for it. 

What’s the best Lexus CT model/engine to choose?

There’s only one engine and transmission so the concept of choice is out of the window, leaving you with the decision between the entry-level CT, the more sporting looking F Sport or the range-topping Takumi. With the CT and F Sport you can get mired in some option box ticking for things like the biggest screen infotainment screen, auto headlights and suchlike, which are available via a number of add on packs, with titles like Tech Pack, Sport Pack or Premium Pack.


If you’re mad enough to go for a CT anyway, then go all-in and have the Takumi, which comes fully-loaded as standard, and, crucially, comes with the superb Mark Levinson premium surround sound system which will make anything you listen to, even Kylie, sound incredible.

What other cars are similar to the Lexus CT?

As a compact, premium hatchback its most obvious rivals come from the same class, which encompasses rivals like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as well as more mainstream rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3 among many others. 


There are a number of plug-in hybrid choices to rival it, but its closest ‘self-charging’ hybrids hail from its parent company, Toyota. The Prius and the Corolla hybrid are in the same sort of price bracket, and both feel far newer – because they are – and actually drive far better than the CT. 

Learn more

Lexus CT200h front interior

On the inside

Lexus CT200h left exterior

Driving

Lexus CT200h left exterior

How much does it cost to run

Lexus CT200h boot open

Prices, versions and specification